Maybe, with their projects, they will change the world… At any rate, that’s what Forbes magazine thinks. It recently pinpointed 30 social entrepreneurs under 30, identified as « the future leaders » of a fairer society. In this shortlist we find young entrepreneurs behind projects designed to foster a more sustainable world, particularly in the realms of food, health and energy.
Take Arno Zimmerman, 28: the co-founder of Coolar, a Berlin company that has come up with a prototype for a solar-powered refrigerator. This gem of technology has the advantage of emitting 10 times less CO2 than a standard fridge, and of working on solar energy alone: an innovation that could have considerable impact, especially in developing countries where doctors would then be able to store their vaccines safely in areas without electricity.
Access to energy in the front line
Another innovator singled out by Forbes is Govinda Upadhyay, 28, who has created LEDsafari. This Lausanne-based start-up has designed a low-cost solution enabling anybody to make a solar-powered light, no matter how basic their technology skills. The object consists of a small solar panel, a battery, a LED bulb and salvaged material (a can, plastic bottle, etc.). « In India, rural populations use oil lamps for lighting, which each cost €3 and need another €1’s worth of fuel each month, » says the young entrepreneur. « There are a lot of solar lights on the market, but they cost over €15 and have proved very difficult to repair (…). My idea is to supply a low-cost solution so that people can assemble their own lights. » LEDsafari is now training students and auto-entrepreneurs, who can then teach their colleagues to build these objects which are vital for daily life.
Nutrients for everyone
Young people are also contributing highly innovative projects in the area of food and nutrition. For example, Canadian Gavin Armstrong was selected by Forbes magazine for his « Iron Lucky Fish Project ». This project is designed to combat the anemia and lack of iron affecting 3.5 million people throughout the world. It does this with a simple iron object in the form of a fish, which families place in the saucepan when cooking food. The iron infiltrates the food, thus meeting 90% of these families’ iron requirements. The « fish » lasts for five years. Meanwhile, to satisfy the protein requirements of Earth’s increasingly large population, Shobhita Soor and four other students from McGill University (Canada) have launched Aspire, a company that breeds and sells insects to Ghana, Mexico and the USA. The advantage of these creepy-crawlies is that they provide even more nutritional goodness than the meat industry, while polluting far less. But citizens will need to become more aware of the environmental issues and the virtues of healthy food.
Local, healthy food
As it happens, one of the 30 social entrepreneurs highlighted by Forbes has created a new kind of school in one of America’s most shattered cities: the Detroit Food Academy, which teaches young citizens to eat healthily. Through this academy, Noam Kimelman has forged a new collaboration between students, producers and neighborhood grocery stores, with the twofold aim of rebuilding the local economy and promoting sustainable food. The young entrepreneur, a graduate of Michigan University, has also created the Fresh Corner Café, a company designed to link up schools, cafes and service stations with local producers supplying healthy food. Caterers also play a role by providing dishes made on site using fresh products. And it’s all accessible to a huge number of people!
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