Five visionaries between the ages of 18-30 from the U.S., Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and the Philippines have been selected to receive the Rolex Award for Enterprise in the new Young Laureates Program. Chosen from among 200 candidates worldwide, these social entrepreneurs impressed the judging panel with their passion and conviction to overcome challenges in the areas of science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.
Each Young Laureate will receive a $50,000 grant along with mentoring and the international publicity that comes through media coverage.
The winners are:
Reese Fernandez, 25, from the Philippines (pictured above), for establishing an innovation center in order to assist impoverished women to earn a decent wage by creating ‘eco-ethical, elegant’ products. Since cofounding Rags2Riches in 2007 to help hundreds of families living in a Manila waste dump who recycled scrap material to make rugs but who only earning pennies on the dollar, Fernandez has assisted 300 women in transforming their business into a high-value coop.
Jacob Colker, 26 from the US, for his smartphone application that allows users to become volunteers by donating spare minutes to charitable, scientific and community organizations. Since co-founding The Extraordinaries in July 2008. Nearly 30,000 volunteers have now signed up for “micro-volunteering”, carrying out a wide range of tasks, from helping Nasa identify galaxies to translating the resumes of newly arrived immigrants who are looking for work.
Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, 27, from Nigeria, for developing an interactive, rural radio service to improve the lives of farmers in Nigeria. In 2003, he founded the Smallholders Foundation to provide the rural community a radio show delivering information on how to improve agricultural methods and conserve the environment, helping the 90% of Nigeria’s population that exist on less than $2.00 a day as small farmers. His 250,000 daily listeners also receive advice on HIV/Aids and opening and running a bank account. They will also be able to contribute information, thanks to interactive mobile radios — small, solar-powered machines allowing listeners to send voice messages, free of charge, to radio stations, which can, in turn, broadcast them.
Piyush Tewari, 29, from India, for training a network of police officers and volunteers to provide rapid medical care to road accident victims in Delhi. After his 17-year-old cousin died following a road accident, Tewari investigated the length of time it took to provide basic life support on the congested streets of Delhi and found that 80 percent of the injured receive no emergency care within the first vital hour after the accident. He set up the SaveLife Foundation to prevent thousands of unnecessary roadside deaths and has already provided training sessions in basic life support to almost 1,200 police officers, as well as 100 ordinary citizens.
Bruktawit Tigabu, 28, from Ethiopia, for developing a health-education television program for preschool children to help reduce the staggering number of children under age 5 who die each year, many from preventable illness. In 2005, she began producing “Tsehai Loves Learning” from her living room, using sock puppets, computer graphics and her own voice. Twenty-six episodes of this highly successful program have now been created, each one seen by an estimated 2.6 million children.
Visit the Rolex Young Laureates website for more information.