Recent winners of this award include:
Fumiya Ito, Japan, 2013 During his time at university in Japan, Fumiya Ito participated in an internship that changed his life. During his time working on a local farm, Ito involved himself in a project that would soon provide opportunities for a marginalized part of the local population. Partnering with a city councilor, he took a leadership position at Gokigen Farm and utilized unused land to provide job opportunities to disabled people. This project addressed two of his community's challenges: a shortage of farming workers and increasing unemployment of disabled people.
Ito dedicated time and hard work expanding the farm's land and resources, providing numerous jobs to the disabled. He harnessed the power of social media and blogging to promote the concept and gather more supporters, partners and volunteers. Gokigen Farm revitalized the regional agricultural industry and as demand for the crops increased, so did job opportunities for the local handicapped. Ito also focused on fixing the reputational damage to the farm industry caused by leaks from a nearby power plant. Gokigen Farm produces organic products free from contamination and Ito focuses on creating awareness amongst local customers of the farm's tested and protected produce.
Jobs at the Gokigen Farm have provided not only employment, but also a sense of pride and purpose for the disabled people in his community. Ito continues to work diligently to break down the prejudices and discrimination faced by the handicapped. He has offered them a sense of self-worth and a way to participate fully in society each day through employment and community engagement. Their careers at Gokigen Farm are made possible by the hard work and compassion shown by Ito and his fellow active citizens.
Soon Loo, Turkey, 2013 In the spirit of active citizenship, Soon Loo is an avid entrepreneur who uses his business skills and corporate knowledge to start successful ventures that give back to the community. His innovative journey started at the age of 21 developing successful optical software used in eye-care training colleges and optical stores across Canada and the United States. His talents and business ventures propelled him into his next project, an online shopping engine for disabled people that allows them to grocery shop without visiting the store.
One of Loo's current ventures aims at peacefully guiding a nation from an oil-dependent economy to a diversified one. A native of Brunei, Loo was aware of the country's dependency on oil and gas to its gross domestic product. Since oil is a non-renewable resource, Loo recognized the urgent need for the country to avoid economic and social turmoil by securing other sources of profit locally and internationally. He works with corporate and civic partners to build the trade industry and diversify local companies, offering unique long-term sustainable business solutions to Brunei's challenge.
Loo mentors other aspiring young entrepreneurs by offering advice, encouragement and motivation to pursue their dreams. He teaches at three different universities and takes pride in his ability to educate and empower young people. In 2012, Loo founded, Passion Unleashed, a talk series featuring experts from the business, government and civil sectors who share rich life stories and personal challenges. Through this platform, Loo aims to inspire the next generation and challenge them to harness their passion to make a difference for the underprivileged in their local communities and around the world. Loo is a shining example of the power that entrepreneurial thinking can bring to creating sustainable social good.
Tülin Akin, Turkey, 2013 Raised in impoverished villages in Turkey, Tülin Akin was exposed to the needs and challenges of rural communities early in her life. Her interest in rural development grew as she studied agricultural marketing during her university years. Throughout her studies and search for a place in the working world, Akin realized that Turkey's agriculture sector and local farmers were not present on the Internet. Leaving the classroom behind and returning to the rural farm villages made her aware firsthand of this disconnect.
Akin's trips to rural communities and face-to-face visits with farmers opened her eyes to a variety of problems. Due to their lack of connection with the online world, farmers were losing crops to easily prevented diseases and adjustable growing techniques, and some were selling produce for much less than its value. Forming a solution to these challenges, Akin established Turkey's first e-learning and e-commerce media outlet to help these farmers gain access to information regarding products, marketing and legislation.
Through promotion in the villages she visited and at agricultural fairs, online users quickly grew to 20 000. With support from corporate sponsors inside and outside of the agricultural business, she expanded her infrastructure to reach 800 000 farmers around Turkey. Akin has since then created a free SMS text service through Vodafone sending farmers information about climate, crops and weather warnings. She also created a user-friendly software, Farmers Computer, allowing farmers to manage their farms and fields on their computer. Akin provides resources aimed at the rural farmer encouraging them to fully and actively participate in the economy and society of their country. In the true spirit of active citizenship, she recognized a local challenge and used her passion to create a sustainable solution for the people and economy of Turkey.
Emily Cummins, UK, 2010 Emily developed a talent for sustainable design and built a multi-bracket water carrier to ease transportation throughout southern Africa. Her experience led to the development of a sustainable refrigerator using a simple water evaporator design around a cylindrical storage container, which allows for the safe, uncontaminated transport of items like medicine, regardless of the local water quality. She gave away her initial fridge design for duplication to help as many families in southern Africa as possible.