Social innovation as a key to addressing global challenges

The “Social Innovation Awards” goes to 16 organizations

We live in a time of growing global challenges, from violent conflicts and geopolitical tensions to economic uncertainties and climate concerns. In this polarized environment, trust around the world is declining. However, amidst these difficulties, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship recognized the value of 16 organizations that, with innovative approaches, are helping to regenerate trust and shape more inclusive, equitable and sustainable societies.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

For more than a quarter of a century, the Schwab Foundation has acted as a catalyst for exceptional models of social innovation. This year’s 16 winners join a community of 477 champions who, through their collective work, have improved the lives of 891 million people since 1998. This recognition is more than an award; it’s a sign that positive change is possible when the global community comes together.

Over the past three years, organizations recognized with the Schwab Awards have generated extraordinary economic value, reaching $902 million. These benefits spread from rural villages in Africa to megacities in Asia and Latin America, to disadvantaged parts of North America and Europe. Globally, social innovators are implementing high-impact models in over 190 countries, setting the common good above profit.

Global is the key word, as social innovators are scaling their high-impact models to more than 190 countries. This diffusion is guided by the principle of putting purpose before profit, demonstrating that it is possible to reconcile social objectives with economic ones. By working collaboratively with communities, social innovators demonstrate that trust can be rebuilt. This collaboration instills agency between individuals or groups, allowing them to develop solutions to chronic problems. In a world where mistrust is widespread and less than a third of people are willing to collaborate with those who hold different opinions, the bottom-up approach is changing entrenched power dynamics.

The social innovation awards

This year, the Schwab Awards encompassed organizations addressing critical issues such as healthcare, education, finance, women and youth empowerment, poverty reduction and the impact of climate change.

For example, the Financing Alliance for Health is helping African governments establish autonomous health programs, reducing dependence on external development agencies. The Colombian Mi Sangre Foundation works one-on-one with young people, providing them with the skills needed to lead the future of their country.

Other organizations are at the forefront of unique projects, such as recycling electronic devices for education in the Middle East, responsible management of Amazon forests by indigenous peoples, promoting youth development through sport and access to legal services in most disadvantaged communities in rural Africa.

This year’s award winners were recognized in four distinctive categories, each aiming to celebrate and promote a specific aspect of social innovation:

social entrepreneurs: They stand out for using innovative, market-oriented approaches to directly address social issues

  • Ajaita Shah, Frontier Markets (India)
  • Mohamed Amine Zariat, Tibu Africa (Morocco)
  • Catalina Cock Duque, Fundacion Mi Sangre (Colombia)
  • Gerald Abila, BarefootLaw (Uganda)
  • Rudayna Abdo, Thaki (Lebanon)
  • Shuchin Bajaj, Ujala Cygnus Hospitals (India)
  • Temie Giwa-Tubosun, LifeBank Group (Nigeria)
  • Xia Li, Shenzhen Power-Solution (China)

public social innovators: operate within governments or international organizations and use the power of social innovation to create a public good through public policy, regulation or initiative

  • Chantal Line Carpentier, UNCTAD (Switzerland)
  • Ibu Vivi Yulaswati, Ministry of National Planning (Indonesia)
  • Juan Manuel Martinez Louvier, Instituto Nacional de la Economia Social (INAES)

corporate social innovators: leaders within multinational or regional companies who drive the development of new products, services, initiatives or business models aimed at addressing social and environmental challenges

  • Saugata Banerjee, EssilorLuxottica (Singapore)
  • Ruchika Singhal, Medtronic LABS (USA)

collective social innovators: organizations that, by bringing together diverse resources, expertise and perspectives, work together to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to critical social and environmental challenges.

  • Financing Alliance for Health (Kenya), led by CEO Angela Gichaga.
  • Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance (Cuencas Sagradas Amazonicas), led by CEO Angela Gichaga.
  • StriveTogether (United States), co-led by Jennifer Blatz, President and CEO, Vanessa Carlo-Miranda, Chief Operating Officer, and Colin Groth, Chief Advancement Officer.

In a rapidly evolving world, these social outperformers of 2024 are a beacon of hope, demonstrating that social innovation is the key to meeting the challenges of our time and creating a better future for all.