How can we provide healthcare in the remote mountains of Nepal? Can radio be a tool to empower women in the Palestinian Territories? Why shouldn’t every child excel at math and science? The Schwab Foundation’s 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees are tackling these issues and more with sustainable business solutions. The awardees are joining the world’s largest network of over 320 late-stage social enterprises in The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the sister organization of the World Economic Forum.

From Seoul to San Francisco, from Beirut to Brasília, this year’s awardees are truly global, including winners from underrepresented countries such as Bangladesh, Colombia and Morocco. Of the social enterprises selected this year, 44% are headed by women, a fact I am particularly proud of.

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Our 2015 awardees collectively reach more than 40 million low-income customers and beneficiaries. They are disruptors and visionaries, and in many cases they are redefining market-based approaches to social issues. Take for example Dhaka-based Kamal Quadir, of bKash. Kamal has revolutionized mobile financial transactions for low-income households in Bangladesh. The platform has a simple interface that can be accessed by a cheap mobile phone, and in an effort to keep the service affordable, customers pay a flat fee of $ .04, irrespective of the size of the payment transaction. To date, bKash has over 16 million users.

In the United States, Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey of Revolution Foods aim to close the access gap to healthy food for millions of low-income children in America by serving healthy, locally prepared and affordable school lunches to low-income schoolchildren. Starting in a few schools in California, Revolution Foods has now grown to serve 1.4 million children weekly in K-12 schools in 27 US cities.

Social Entrepreneurs are, by definition, solution-oriented. Where others see problems, they see opportunities. The Schwab Foundation’s 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees are leading examples of entrepreneurship in the global public interest, and as such, they are essential stakeholders to engage in World Economic Forum activities and initiatives to help solve complex global challenges.

Find out more about the Schwab Foundation’s 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees here.

Author: Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Image: People join fists in solidarity in New York May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton