This is how 15 leaders are changing the world through trust

Why is trust so important for social innovation?
Image: Jan Sahas
  • Social innovation can help transform our economic, political and societal systems - and is needed now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our health systems and expose global inequality.
  • The Schwab Foundation’s 2022 Social Innovators of the Year includes a list of outstanding founders, multinational and regional business leaders, government leaders and recognized experts.
  • Through value based and innovative approaches, centring on inclusivity, collaboration and sustainability, these fifteen change leaders are transforming the world for the better for us all.

Our world is in dire need of healing and rebuilding trust, while also needing us to transform our economic, political and societal systems. From using hiphop to transform the lives of favela dwellers in Brazil, unlocking ancient storytelling through augmented reality in Australia, decentralising healthcare in the Netherlands, eradicating hidden hunger in Costa Rica and mobilizing over $200 million in healthcare innovation in Switzerland, the Schwab Foundation’s 2022 Social Innovators of the Year includes a list of outstanding founders, multinational and regional business leaders, government leaders and recognized experts. The work of this extraordinary cohort of social innovators helps us recognize that change towards a better future is not only possible – it is already at work.

'Buurtzorg', the Dutch word that could revolutionize healthcare

Jos de Blok, CEO & Founder, Buurtzorg, The Netherlands

‘Buurtzorg’, meaning ‘neighbourhood care’, allows nurses to act as a ‘health coach’ for their patients, advising them on how to stay healthy, caring for their needs and using their initiative. This proactive process has enabled the Dutch healthcare system to reduce costs by around 40%, while the time it takes to administer care has been slashed by a staggering 50%, as per a case study by KPMG. Founded by Dutch nurse Jos De Blok in 2006, Buurtzorg has evolved from a team of four nurses into an internationally recognised healthcare model adapted in over 30 countries.

The dad scientist who’s taking social media by storm to take toxic kids products off the market

Wei Wenfeng, Founder, DaddyLabs, People’s Republic of China

With over 50 million followers, Jim Wei, better known as Daddy Wei is using his presence on social media to keep consumers safe from toxic products. His organisation Daddylab was founded in 2015 to safeguard the health of his young daughter after finding toxic chemicals on the cover of her children’s book. Today Daddylab is a trusted social platform that combines the function of a third party testing agency, a market watchdog, a consumer rights advocacy forum and an ecommerce platform selling over 300 categories of products that are tested in a transparent, scientific, verifiable and reproducible way.

Unlocking ancient wisdom through augmented reality

Mikaela Jade, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Indigital, Australia

Imagine 80,000 years of human knowledge and rich stories coming to life right in front of you. Mikaela Jade, a Cabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking nation of Sydney, founded Indigital to preserve and proliferate generations of wisdom while also engaging First Peoples in education that leads to skills, jobs, and wealth creation to build a stronger future for all. Indigital Schools, their flagship programme, is the only pioneering programme in Australia that brings together Indigenous cultural knowledge, language and law with frontier technology education.

From street kid to the NYT bestselling author and world famous social innovator

Kennedy Odede, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities), Kenya

Kennedy Odede grew up in Kenya's Kibera slum, the largest in Africa, where, as a street child, he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty first hand. He started Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in 2004 with passion, 20 cents, and a soccer ball. SHOFCO proposes to eradicate extreme poverty in urban slums by first establishing strong community-led relationships, and then layer on the delivery of critical services including health care, clean water and sanitation, girls’ education, and job readiness. In 2020, SHOFCO reached 2.4 million individuals across 17 urban slums through COVID response at scale.

A simple scientific formula to get kids reading

Rana Dajani, Founder and Director, We Love Reading (WLR)/Taghyeer, Jordan

As a scientist, Dr Rana Dajani knows the importance of observation and research in coming up with solutions to problems. She observed that many children in the Middle East region do not read for pleasure. Through research, she found that reading aloud to children is one very effective solution to tackle this problem. This is when she founded We Love Reading (WLR). Today WLR is active in 63 countries worldwide and has brought the joy of reading to nearly half a million children, including tens of thousands of young refugees in Jordan and beyond. WLR is creating systems change by changing mindsets through reading to create changemakers.

Fusing street life, hip hop, literature and cinema to transform the lives of favela dwellers in Brazil

Celso Athayde, Founder, Central Unica das Favelas (CUFA) and Chief Executive Officer, Favela Holding, Brazil

Celso Athayde was born in one of the most violent areas of Rio de Janeiro, and by the age of 16, he had already lived on the streets and in three favelas. Celso’s exposure to hiphop music dramatically changed the way he saw society, which led him to create CUFA, with the goal of inspiring political awareness among favela residents, mostly people of colour. Currently, the largest non profit organization focused on favelas in Brazil, CUFA uses hiphop and sports as tools to help young people formulate opinions about social issues and propose solutions. In 2013, Celso Athayde also founded Favela Holding, a consortium of 24 companies geared towards social inclusion and the economic empowerment of favelas through the generation of jobs, business opportunities and entrepreneurship.

Inside out: Awakening young people’s inner world to transform their outer world

Ashraf Patel, Founder, Pravah & ComMutiny Youth Collective (CYC), India

Pravah has been a pioneer in shaping the field of youth development in India. ComMutiny - The Youth Collective (incubated by Pravah in 2008) is a community of practice of over 100 leading youth engaging organisations that are working towards accelerating and amplifying the agency of young people. Founded by Ashraf Patel and her partners, Arjun Shekhar and Meenu Venkateswaran, Pravah and ComMutiny, have actively engaged over 1200 youth organizations, supported the learning and leadership of 700,000+ young people and have had an estimated reach of over 6.5 million young people.

Igniting a brighter future with a dash of innovation, a pinch of technology, and a lot of hope

Marlon Parker and Rene Parker, Cofounders, Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs), South Africa

Rlabs is making hope contagious. By creating spaces for people to be impacted, empowered and transformed through technology and innovation, training and economic opportunities, a husband-wife duo, Marlon and Rene Parker have started a movement, one that opens all the closed doors that block so many people’s access to the economy. Today RLabs has expanded its model and work to 23 countries across 5 continents impacting more than 20 million people.

Aiding connections in the fight against AIDS

Pradeep Kakkattil, Office of Innovation, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Switzerland

Public Social Intrapreneur Pradeep Kakkattil founded the Health Innovation Exchange at UNAIDS, which identifies challenges faced by implementers and connects them with innovations that have a high potential for impact. The platform has mobilized over $200 million in investments in scaling up identified innovations, including in establishing the largest production facility for safety syringes in Africa. Kakkattil gave up his media career when a close friend tested positive for HIV in the early 1990s and has since then dedicated his life to responding to the potential threat of HIV and other health challenges.

Open governments make for a trustworthy society

Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Global

Public Social Intrapreneur, Sanjay Pradhan has tirelessly promoted open government through his roles at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the World Bank. At the World Bank, he led the Bank's strategy and support for better governance, social accountability and the fight against corruption, and championed opening the vault of data for public use that released 8,000 economic and social indicators for 200 countries over 50 years. As the Chief Executive Officer of OGP, he works with heads of states, ministers, mayors and civil society leaders across 78 countries to advance transformative reforms that make governments more open, participatory and less corrupt.

Native American and indigenous communities get healthy one step - and one shoe - at a time

Sam McCracken, Founder and General Manager, N7, Nike, USA

Nike N7 was born from Corporate Social Intrapreneur, Sam McCracken’s, vision to leverage sports to reduce inequalities within the indigenous populations of North America. McCracken is a member of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes in north-eastern Montana, and defines N7 as a brand that “encourages and inspires Native youth to dare to rise”. Today Nike N7 and the N7 fund has awarded $8+ million in grants to 250+ communities and organizations, reaching more than 500,000 youth.

Eradicating hidden hunger with high-quality nutrition at low costs

Gisela Sanchez, Corporate Affairs, Marketing, Strategy and Sustainability at Bac International Bank Inc & Board

Nutrivida aims to eradicate the concept of hidden hunger, which two billion people suffer from, by producing and selling highly nutritional food products at the lowest price to enhance access to quality food. Nutrivida was born from Corporate Social Intrapreneur Gisela Sanchez’s social project as an Aspen Fellow in 2010. Since its inception, Nutrivida has provided food to more than 2.5 million people at low costs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and it has donated over 650,000 meals in Central America, Venezuela, and Haiti.

Harnessing democratic power to solve public problems

Hahrie Han, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science, Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Social Innovator Thought Leader Hahrie Han has dedicated her life to studying how to make social movements and organising effective in revitalising democracy and our ability to solve collective problems. Throughout her career, Han has been dedicated to working directly with practitioners and organisations to learn how to better engage citizens tosolve problems together, especially where people who need or want change most lack authority or the power to enable it.

Unconventional collaborations that equalize access to power

Alberto Alemanno, Professor of Law, HEC Paris and Founder, The Good Lobby, European Union

Through an unconventional mix of research, advocacy and coalition building, Social Innovation Thought Leader Prof. Alberto Alemanno’s civic startup, The Good Lobby, kickstarted a movement for ethical, responsible and sustainable lobbying. The Good Lobby continues to lead this movement by combining research, strategic advocacy advice and training (dedicated lobbying for good learning journeys) to a variety of system change actors.

Facilitating breakthroughs in complex socioeconomic and political challenges

Adam Kahane, Cofounder and Board Member, Reos Partners, Canada

Social Innovator Thought Leader Adam Kahane is an internationally renowned facilitator and author who for more than 30 years has been helping diverse stakeholder teams all around the world achieve breakthroughs on their most important socioeconomic and political challenges, including climate change, racial equity, democratic governance, Indigenous rights, health, food, energy, water, education, justice, and security. Adam has pioneered a new general theory and practice for employing multi-stakeholder collaboration to effect systemic change.

What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

Social innovators are addressing the world’s most serious and entrenched challenges, ranging from illiteracy to clean water and sanitation, girls’ education, prison reform, financial inclusion and disaster relief.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is supporting more than 400 leading social innovators operating in over 190 countries.

Since its foundation in 1998, a total of 722 million lives have been directly improved by the work of this community of leading social innovators.

Our global network of experts, partner institutions and World Economic Forum constituents are invited to nominate outstanding social innovators.

Visit the Schwab Foundation website for more information about the award process and the selection criteria.

Through value based and innovative approaches, centring on inclusivity, collaboration and sustainability, these fifteen change leaders are transforming the world for the better for us all. Learn more about these changemakers on the Schwab Foundation website. Nominations for the Social Innovator of the Year 2023 are now open. Learn more here.

Social innovators have improved the lives of 722 million people.

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