Apparently, Rolex is about more than just watches. Not only does the company have a set of Awards for Enterprise, but last year it launched an extension of the Awards, the Young Laureates Programme. This arm recognizes five young social entrepreneurs, "enabling them to implement inventive ideas that tackle the world's most pressing issues in five areas: science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation."
This year's winners hail from all around the world and are being honored for ventures ranging from improving emergency response on India's roadways to enabling information-sharing among Nigerian farmers. Allow me to introduce the Laureates:
- Jacob Colker, 26, from the United States, is using mobile communications to pioneer "micro-volunteering," wherein volunteers donate spare minutes while they're waiting for a bus or a doctor's appointment to charitable and scientific organizations.
- Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, 27, from Nigeria, is creating an interactive, mobile radio network to allow farmers to exchange information on sustainable farming practices and health.
- Bruktawit Tigabu, 28, from Ethiopia is using video to teach preschool children and their parents about health to reduce the numbers of children under five who die from diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, measles and malnutrition.
- Piyush Tewari, 29, from India is finding new ways to train police officers and volunteers to respond more efficiently and effectively to highway accidents and administer immediate medical care.
- Reese Fernandez, 25, from the Philippines is helping women recycle scrap materials into fashionable accessories through an enterprise called Rags2Riches.
Please note that none of these extraordinary people is yet 30, which just goes to show that one can make a difference at any age. These social entrepreneurs demonstrate that experience isn't the most important thing when you're looking to change society. Instead, they "impressed the judging panel with their passion and conviction to overcome challenges."