The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship helps amplify innovative solutions to the most serious social, cultural and environmental issues.
The Schwab Foundation helps advance models of social entrepreneurship towards more systemic change by demonstrating best in class examples, creating opportunities for collaboration with the private and public sectors, and developing practitioner-oriented research and training for more collaborative and transformative actions.
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Tom Szaky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, announced a major new initiative to address the alarming density of plastic in the oceans. The initiative, called “Loop”, was developed in partnership with some of the world’s largest plastics producers: Unilever, Nestlé and Suez among others, to design high quality packaging that can be reused and refilled at least 100 times.
Another well-established social entrepreneur in the Schwab Foundation community, Jordan Kassalow of VisionSpring co-founded a multi-sector coalition to address the problem it had been working on in its entirety. VisionSpring continues to ensure affordable access to eyewear in a world where 90% of the 2.5 billion people who need it live in low-income countries. VisionSpring sold its one millionth pair of eyeglasses in 2012. VisionSpring also recognised the opportunity to bring in new public and private sector actors to tackle the global problem holistically.
In 2014 EYElliance was launched as a new multi-sector coalition to make the case that eyeglasses are a development solution, not only a health solution. They partnered with the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum to publish: Eyeglasses for Global Development: Bridging the Visual Divide
report which has galvanized the global development community and the eye care community outlining a compelling economic and moral case for glasses in global development.
The platform provided by the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum also aids social entrepreneurs by presenting them as peers to government and corporate leaders at the highest levels. 2015 Schwab Awardee and founder of Triciclos, Gonzalo Muñoz, was appointed as Chile’s High-Level Climate Action Champion at the 2019 December UN Climate Change Conference COP25.
Innovative social entrepreneurs are addressing the world’s most serious challenges ranging from illiteracy to water and sanitation, girls’ education, prison reform, financial inclusion and disaster relief. To achieve maximum impact and start to address root causes, they need greater visibility, credibility, access to finance, favourable policy decisions, and, in some cases, a better understanding of global affairs.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was founded in 1998 to provide the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs with global exposure, and to facilitate wider adoption and scaling-up of their innovations. There are now more than 350 social entrepreneurs in the community, globally selected through the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Between them, they are developing and implementing solutions to the foremost social, cultural or environmental issues.
The Schwab provides unparalleled national, regional and global platforms to this network of social entrepreneurs, enabling them to advance their work. Recent awardees are tackling problems like refugee family reunification, blood delivery by drones, and the protection of oceans and wildlife.
The Schwab Foundation recognizes that social innovation takes place throughout multiple sectors and dimensions. To stay on the cutting edge of social innovation, recognize the diversity of social innovation models across multiple stakeholder groups and to further stimulate public-private collaborations, the Schwab Foundation will be recognizing new awardees in the following categories:
Social Entrepreneurs of the Year
Corporate Social Intrapreneurs of the Year
Public Social Intrapreneurs of the Year
Social Innovation Thought Leaders of the Year
You can learn more about each category and eligibility criteria here.
While the Schwab Foundation does not accept unsolicited applications for all award categories, our global network of experts, partner institutions, and World Economic Forum constituents and business members are invited to nominate outstanding social entrepreneurs.