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On March 24, the Schwab Foundation announced the “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2014.” The foundation, in collaboration with the Huffington Post, awarded thirty seven social entrepreneurs working in a variety of fields including education, health, employment and the environment.

Hilde Schwab, co-founder of the foundation, said in the announcement that “Social entrepreneurs are the driving force behind innovations that improve the quality of life of individuals around the world, and they represent an integral and dynamic community of the World Economic Forum.”

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and his wife, Hilde, founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in 2000. Since it was started, its mission has been to identify social entrepreneurs and form a community to work together to solve difficult problems.

The Schwab Foundation chose social entrepreneurs who have been able to work with governments and businesses to truly have a global impact. The awardees, as a group, operate in over 20 different countries and their work aims to find solutions for both social and environmental problems.

All of the awardees will now be included in the Schwab Foundation “Community of Social Entrepreneurs,” which is made up of 250 social entrepreneurs from 60 countries. These individuals work with the World Economic Forum to exchange and to interact with world leaders in politics, business, the media, and civil society.

David Aikman, Senior Director for the World Economic Forum and the head of the Schwab Foundation, said, “We are seeing greater appetite among other stakeholder groups of the Forum to learn from social innovation models and collaborate with social entrepreneurs in innovative ways.” Aikman went on to discuss his belief that this idea will continue growing and that there will be more collaboration in the future.

One of the notable winners was Shelly Batra of India, who co-created Operation ASHA with Sandeep Ahuja to make India a tuberculosis-free country. Since it started in 2005, Operation ASHA has been able to treat people living in over 2,000 slums in six states in India as well as in two provinces in Cambodia.

Another winner from India was Chetna Viay Sinha, who had previously won the same award from the Schwab Foundation in 2013. Sinha works with the Mann Deshi Group of Ventures and the Mann Deshi Foundation, where she is responsible for the largest microfinance operation in Maharashtra. Since it was founded in 1997, her operation has gained 185,000 clients after starting in just a single village.

The Schwab Foundation also honored five groups of American social entrepreneurs in its 2014 list. One of the awardees was Nancy Lublin of dosomething.org, which works to engage teenagers in causes that interest them. Do Something uses various forms of technology to reach out to over 2 million people ages 13-25 and brings 26 campaigns to these people every year. Some of the organization’s most successful campaigns include the “Give a Spit” campaign that led to a bone marrow registration drive, the “Bully Text” campaign that had over 80,000 young people participate, and the “50 cans” campaign that resulted in over 1 million aluminum cans being recycled.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: The Schwab Foundation, World Economic Forum, The American Bazaar
Photo: Social Enterprise Network