The World Economic Forum (WEF) has honoured five African innovators in its roll of Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2012 Klaus Schwab, founder and executive Chairman of the WEF, presented the award to the five on Wednesday, the opening day of the summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“Social entrepreneurs use innovative approaches to extend access to healthcare, education, energy and housing to marginalised populations that may not otherwise be included in the traditional markets. They ensure that growth, such as that experienced in Africa, is and will be inclusive.” said Hilde Schwab, chairperson and co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
The five winners are: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, co-founder and managing director, SoleRebels, SoleRebels taps into Ethiopia’s artisan heritage to create durable, stylish and eco-friendly footwear for international markets. The company offers training and employment to hundreds of underprivileged workers and uses environmentally friendly practices.
Sameer Hajee, Chief Executive Officer, Nuru Energy Group, was recognised for coming up with LED light bulbs, which can be recharged using an off-grid, pedal-powered platform. The LED light gives up to 26 hours of light and costs a sixth of the price of petrol. Nuru Energy has set up 70 village-level entrepreneurs who have sold 10,000 LED lights.
Paul Scott Matthew, director Africa, North Star Alliance, South Africa, was rewarded for his work on combating HIV and Aids in mobile populations. In the 1990s, Paul Matthew saw the alarming impacts of HIV and Aids on mobile workers such as truck drivers and realised these workers lacked access to basic healthcare. North Star Alliance provides mobile workers and related communities with continual access to high-quality health and safety services through a network of interlinked clinics known as “Roadside Wellness Centres”. Since opening its first centre in 2005 in Malawi, North Star has grown to 22 centres in 10 countries.
Andrew Muir, executive director, Wilderness Foundation, South Africa received the award in recognition of his environmental work. The Wilderness Foundation, founded in 1972, integrates conservation programmes with social and educational programmes. It has trained thousands of youths to be community leaders and national park rangers. The Wilderness Foundation has helped rehabilitate more than 200 000 hectares of forestry.
Seri Youlou and Thomas Granier, co-founders of Association la Voute Nubienne from Burkina Faso received the award for their work in training farmers to construct affordable end ecologically sustainable housing. More than a decade ago, Seri Youlou, a farmer from Burkina Faso, and Thomas Granier, a French mason, built a Nubian vault home in Burkina Faso, Association la Vaute Nubienne.
By training farmers in the construction of homes with vaulted earth-brick roofs, provides an affordable, ecologically sustainable housing alternative and source of income to farmers during the off-seasons. Today, more than 200 masons have built over 1,300 Nubian vault homes in West Africa.
Schwab and his wife, Hilde founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was founded. Since its inception in 2000, the foundation has been identifying the world’s leading social entrepreneurs in over 40 countries around the globe.
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