Meet the Young, Tech-Savvy, Civic-Minded Innovators Driving The Fourth Industrial Revolution

16 Mar 2016

Maxwell Hall, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 (0)79 329 3500, Email:

· 121 men and women, aged under 40, have been invited to join the Young Global Leaders (YGL) community of the World Economic Forum

· New YGLs are at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: a woman whose company regrows damaged human bones; a scientist developing technology that reuses radioactive waste; ministers shaking up politics; future business leaders; and human rights activists.

· The new class of YGLs show what the future of global leadership could be: more women, more leaders from emerging economies, more innovators from tech and the public sector.

· Find out what makes a YGL: see the Class of 2016 at

Geneva, Switzerland, 16 March 2016 – The World Economic Forum announced today 121 scientists, government leaders, future business leaders, social activists and artists, aged under 40, who are shaking up policy, society and the world around them.

Over half of the Young Global Leaders Class of 2016 are women and the majority are from emerging economies. Taken together, they represent the very best of this generation and, as public services worldwide face funding shortfalls, they emphasize the need for future leaders to be tech-savvy, civic-minded innovators.

The full list can be downloaded here

Of the 121, the majority have already agreed to join the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGLs), a diverse community whose members work together on initiatives that benefit society. YGL efforts to date have led to initiatives and businesses aimed at tackling global water shortages, the working conditions of factories in poor countries, a waste-free world, poor health and education for schoolchildren and spinal injuries. A list of notable initiatives involving YGLs is available here.

Current and former YGLs head governments and Fortune 500 companies, win Nobel Prizes and Academy Awards, become UN Goodwill Ambassadors and Social Entrepreneurs. The new YGLs will be asked to work with one another over the next five years resolving some of the world’s toughest challenges.

“Technology is reshaping the way global economies work and how jobs are created. For young leaders, this encompasses the most promising innovations of our day but also the challenges of huge disruptions to labour markets, socio­economic and demographic changes, resource scarcity, global conflicts and slowing productivity. We want these young leaders to be part of the solution and to provide a community that helps them to break down silos, work across sectors, bridge cultures and have the skills get things done in private, public and civil society organizations,” said John Dutton, Head of the Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum.

The Class of 2016 includes:

· Penny Abeywardena (f), Commissioner for International Affairs for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. She previously advised Hillary Clinton on women’s rights and is now responsible for one of the largest diplomatic corps in the world, which included the Pope’s visit to New York.

· Sam Altman (m), the head of Y Combinator, one of the world’s most profitable start-up accelerators which has invested in well-known names like Airbnb, Dropbox and Zenefits.

· Eleni Antoniadou (f), a Greek scientist and co-founder of Transplants Without Borders, which is pioneering the development of lab-generated organs in clinical transplants to stop illegal organ trafficking.

· Christopher Ategeka (m), the founder of Rides for Lives, a Ugandan non-profit that builds mobile health units equipped with a doctor, lab and pharmacy. To date, it has served over 500,000 people. An entrepreneur since childhood, he lost both parents to HIV/AIDS when he was seven and supported his family by starting a neighbourhood waste-collection service.

· Abayomi Awobokun (m), who rose from cleaner to oil company CEO as head of Oando Downstream, Nigeria’s biggest indigenous oil-retailing major.

· Farida Bedwei (f), a Ghanaian software engineer and co-founder of Logiciel, who is considered to be one of the most powerful women in financial technology in Africa.

· Hina Butt (f), a member of the Punjab Assembly with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) who is also a successful businesswoman who founded her own fashion company in Pakistan. She is passionate about countering child marriage and promoting women’s rights in Pakistan.

· Julie Chappell (f), the UK’s youngest ever ambassador who is now building a forum to help talented young girls become global leaders.

· Umer Cheema (m), co-founder of the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, an International Press Freedom Awardee and Pearl fellow with The New York Times.

· Chih-Han Yu (m), a world-class researcher in artificial intelligence who co-founded Taiwanese start-up Appier. He was on the Stanford University team that developed the winner of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge which laid the foundations for Google’s self-driving car.

· Amal Clooney (f), a barrister who specialises in international criminal law and human rights. She has represented governments, advised the UN’s Kofi Annan on Syria, been appointed to international human rights investigations and conflict-resolution panels, and defended high-profile clients before international courts.

· Leslie Dewan (f), who co-founded Transatomic Power, a start-up whose technology reuses nuclear waste for fuel.

· Nima Elbagir (f), Senior International Correspondent for CNN who was named the Royal Television Society’s Specialist Journalist of the Year. She has been instrumental in CNN’s coverage of the refugee crisis, the rise of Islamic extremism and the missing schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014.

· Nima Elmi (f), a Somali-born lawyer and current adviser to Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the country works to gain international recognition as an independent country.

· Aria Finger (f), the CEO of, a New York non-profit that helps young people take action for social change.

· Roland G. Fryer (m), a Harvard economics professor who rose from working at a McDonald’s drive-through to become a nationally respected authority on education, race and inequality in America. The youngest African-American, aged 30, to receive tenure at Harvard, Roland’s research focuses on designing more effective policies in education reform and combating police violence.

· Sheng Fu (m), an icon among Chinese internet entrepreneurs who heads Cheetah Mobile, the largest app developer that grew from a six-person start-up to a $2.7 billion market cap company on the New York Stock Exchange.

· Joe Gebbia (m), co-founder of Airbnb and the company’s chief product officer.

· Hannah Hopko (f), a member of parliament in Ukraine known for her pro-democracy and anti-corruption activism.

· Forsan Hussein (m), the co-founder, with Ami Dror, of Zaitoun Ventures, an Israel-based tech investor focused on joint Jewish-Arab start-ups. It is poised to invest $100 million in 2016.

· Melanie Joly (f), Minister for Canadian Heritage in Canada’s new government, headed by Justin Trudeau.

· Ashton Kutcher (m), the actor and emerging tech investor who launched an innovation lab to fight child sexual exploitation.

· Avid Larizadeh-Duggan (f), an entrepreneur and partner at Google Ventures in the UK. She oversees the UK activities of and Hour of Code, which launched in 2013 with one of its aims to encourage more women to learn to code.

· Emmanuel Macron (m), France’s Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs.

· Seth Moulton (m), who became a member of the US House of Representatives in 2014.

· James Mworia (m), who rose from filing clerk to become CEO of the Kenya-based Centum Investment Company, one of East Africa’s largest publicly traded private equity firms.

· Ada Osakwe (f), founder of Agrolay Ventures, an investment firm targeting early-stage food and agribusiness companies that aim to boost Africa’s food production. She used to advise Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture.

· Zunaid Ahmed Palak (m), the youngest MP in Bangladesh who is is leading the government’s tech drive and aims to create more than 1,000 start-up companies by 2021.

· Danae Ringelmann (f), as head of Indiegogo, the tech start-up she co-founded, she is known as the “Mother of Crowdfunding”. She had previously quit her job on Wall Street to change finance.

· Juliana Rotich (f), a leading tech voice in Africa who works with $50 million venture capital fund Africa Technology Ventures and founded Ushahidi, a non-profit which has helped seed the fast-growing East African tech industry and offers crowdsourcing platforms that help communities track everything from violence to floods.

· Wafa Sayadi (f), a Tunisian entrepreneur who started waste-management company Proclean. She also heads CEED, a company which fosters entrepreneurship within Tunisia.

· Julia Shakhnovskaya (f), a former lawyer and director of Moscow’s Polytechnic Museum who is credited with transforming it from a post-Soviet institution to the leading Russian science museum.

· Sheetal Amte-Karajgi (f), who works with one of India’s leading non-profits, Maharogi Sewa Samiti, which builds the livelihoods of the most marginalized people, especially those with disabilities.

· Shivani Siroya (f), the founder and CEO of InVenture, a data-led microfinance enterprise that helps people access credit through phone apps. It aims to unlock credit for 2.5 billion people in the informal economy. In Kenya, it has loaned $1.5 million to businesses and individuals with 85% repayment rates.

· Dhivya Suryadevara (f), Harvard-educated, Indian-born CEO of GM Asset Management – one of the largest pensions in the US, where she manages $80 billion in assets.

· Hadia Tajik (f), a Norwegian MP who was Minister of Culture until 2013, the youngest ever, and the first Muslim to serve in the Norwegian Cabinet.

· Nina Tandon (f), who founded Epibone, the world’s first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction.

· Lila Tretikov (f), the Moscow-born head of the Wikimedia Foundation, the world’s largest source of free knowledge.

· Shu Wang (m), Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission in China who was involved in Beijing’s climate policies in the run-up to COP21 in Paris.

· Amira Yahyaoui (f), a founder and President of Al Baswala, a respected NGO and government watchdog pushing for recognition of human rights, transparency and good governance from Tunisia’s democratically elected civilian leaders.

· Rebecca Yang Yuancao (f), the self-made CEO of media company IPCN and known as the Queen of TV Entertainment in China. Five of the top 10 most-watched shows in China are produced by her company.

· Julie Yoo (f), co-founder of Kyruus, a US-based software developer that uses data science to make health providers and hospitals smarter about matching patients with physicians. She is a big advocate of women in technology through her support of organizations like Girls Who Code.

· Patrick Youssef (m), Deputy Director of Operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross and former head of delegation to Iraq.

· Farkhunda Zahra Naderi (f), an Afghan MP (one of the youngest elected members of the parliament) and Peace Ambassador of the Universal Peace Foundation.

Previous YGL nominees include: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group, People’s Republic of China; Marissa Mayer, Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo, USA; Larry Page, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; Claudia Sender Ramirez, Chief Executive Officer, TAM Linhas Aereas, Brazil; Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director, Mara Group, United Arab Emirates; Naoko Yamazaki, astronaut and mission specialist on the crew of STS-131 Discovery, Japan; and Zhou Xun, Actress and Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Development Programme, People’s Republic of China.

Notes to Editors

More information on the YGL Class of 2016 at

Meet the new YGLs on our blog: Agenda.

More information on the YGLs on our website, brochure.

Follow us on Twitter at

Follow us on Facebook at
Nominate a potential Young Global Leader through our website

All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum