- In Africa, 29-year-old Galen Welsch’s Jibu has trained young people in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya to run their own social franchises aimed at making clean drinking water available to their local communities. Since 2012, Jibu has distributed over 13 million gallons of water since launched 140 franchises and created jobs for over 400 people. And in Ghana Emily Cunningham, 26, and Kwami Williams, 25, cofounders of MoringaConnect are using a vertically integrated supply chain that takes the moringa tree and turns it into beauty products and pre-packaged snacks.
- In Lebanon, 27-year-old Sara Minkara’s Empowerment Through Integration is working to instill confidence in blind children, running programming that teaches them skills like how to walk with a white cane or how to use a computer.
- In India, 23-year-old Aditya Agarwalla’s Kisan Network has moved more than 1 million pounds of crops by facilitating sales between small scale farmers and institutional buyers lowering costs on the buyers’ end and securing better deals for the farmers.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. we have organizations focused on veterans, like 24-year-old Sam Pressler’s Armed Services Arts Partnership that is helping veterans transition back to civilian life with the help of the arts community and Robert and Brittany Bergquist’s Cell Phones For Soldiers. Others are focused on career development for young people like 29-year-old Quardean Lewis-Allen’s Made in Brownsville and 24-year-old Oliver Daquan’s WeThrive. And others still are focused on combatting homelessness and poverty through initiatives like Sam Greenberg and Sarah Rosenkrantz’s Boston-based shelter Y2Y, or like Liz Powers’s ArtLifting, Genevieve Nielsen’s mRelief and Tina Hovsepian’s Cardborigami.
On this year’s list the median age is 26, while the most common age on the list this year is 24, with 11 entrepreneurs born in 1992 making the cut. Our three youngest are 23: Corinne Clinch, cofounder of clean water focused Rorus Inc.; Matt LaRosa, cofounder of aquaponics startup Edenworks; and Agarwalla, cofounder of Kisan Network.
And six are 29 years old, including Teju Ravilochan. He’s the cofounder and CEO of the Boulder, Col.-based Unreasonable Institute, an accelerator for startups run by entrepreneurs who want to tackle big social problems, even if they’re unqualified to do so on paper. (Ravilochan himself had never founded a company before starting the Unreasonable Institute.) With an impressive network of mentors like Google X cofounder Tom Chi and capital partners like the Rockefeller Foundation, Ravilochan’s “unreasonable” work is paying off. The institute has since graduated 148 startups that have raised over $155 million to date.
This year’s list was put together by Alexandra Wilson, Parul Guliani and myself based upon research and online nominations, and was selected by our returning judges: Jean Case, cofounder of the Case Foundation; Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green; Randall Lane, Editor of FORBES; and one new addition, an alum of our 2015 Social Entrepreneur list, Kiah Williams, cofounder of SIRUM.