The 2023 Social Innovation Awards presented by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum are shining a light on the power of collective change in the face of global crises. With economies and people’s livelihoods being impacted by numerous challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, war, and climate change, it is those who are most vulnerable who are being hardest hit. In these trying times, there is a pressing need for new ways to address exclusion, inequality, and environmental degradation in order to rebuild trust and societal systems.
This year’s 16 award-winning organizations for social innovation provide a source of hope and inspiration. Through their practical and scalable solutions to deeply ingrained problems, they are proving that change is indeed possible and making remarkable transformations through innovative collaboration. Their work is providing support to those at the greatest risk from the current disarray in the world, particularly young people, women, and minority groups.
The 2023 award recipients are 24 leaders working in a variety of sectors who are using technology to make a positive impact in education, agriculture, microfinance, environmental initiatives, and empowering and representing women in the informal economies. Their programs have a far-reaching impact, benefiting communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America, from rural villages to urban areas and even rainforests.
For over 20 years, the Schwab Foundation has been a global champion of social innovation, bringing attention and resources to the efforts of innovative organizations. In 2023, these 16 awardees join a network of 435 social innovators whose collective impact has affected the lives of nearly a billion people.
The focus of these awardees is on inclusiveness and collaboration with the communities they serve, resulting in significant progress in tackling sustainability, health and education, rural development, and youth training challenges. Their unique approach, combining explicit social objectives with equitable and just operations, enables them to tackle issues often neglected by mainstream capitalism. With bottom-up input from historically marginalized groups, this inclusive governance structure provides a nimble solution to complex problems, in contrast to the top-down approach of many large institutions.
Moreover, this network of social innovators operates globally, reaching people in 190 countries and providing better healthcare, finance, and livelihoods. With the economic hardships caused by ongoing geopolitical conflicts, their work is more crucial now than ever.
Above all, the awardees are recognized across four categories: Social Entrepreneurs, Corporate Social Intrapreneurs, Public Social Intrapreneurs, and Collective Social Innovation. The latter, a new award category, highlights the importance of collective action in achieving large-scale social change.
Collective Social Innovation schemes have the potential to bring exceptional scale to important projects. Moreover, the Schwab Foundation awards will bring significant benefits to these innovators, increasing visibility, connecting them to a powerful peer community of change leaders, and providing access to global decision-makers through the World Economic Forum network. The winners will also have the opportunity to participate in a leadership development program at Harvard Kennedy School.
The Outstanding Social Innovators of the Year 2023 include:
Ady Beitler (Nilus, Argentina), Aniket Doegar (Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions, India), Aref Husseini (Al Nayzak Foundation, Palestine), Celina de Sola (Glasswing International, El Salvador), Joseph Kenner (Greyston, USA), Kola Masha (Babban Gona), and Säbeen Haque (DoctHERS, Pakistan).
Corporate Social Intrapreneurs:
Benoît Bonello (SUEZ Group, France) and Kanika Pal (Hindustan Unilever, India).
Public Social Intrapreneurs:
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr (Mayor, Freetown City Council, Sierra Leone) and Bushra Al Mulla (Director General, Family Care Authority, UAE).
Collective Social Innovation:
MapBiomas (Brazil), ProjectTogether (Germany), Punjab Education Collective (India), Tamarack Institute (Canada), and WIEGO (Global). These organizations are co-led by various influential individuals.
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