Founder and CEO of
DriveHER Ride-sharing App
In 2016, Toronto-based entrepreneur Aisha Addo founded DriveHER, a ride-sharing service for women by women. The service provides women with a transportation alternative that’s safe from harassment by male drivers while creating jobs for women.
The idea came after many women shared their experience of being harassed – either verbally or physically – by male cab drivers. “The purpose of the company is not to bash men, it is more about empowering women to take their safety into their own hands and give them a choice,” Addo says.
Before starting the ride-sharing service, Addo – now 28 – founded the Power to Girls Foundation, a non-profit organisation working in the greater Toronto area and in
Ghana. For Addo, being an entrepreneur is not about making a profit. Instead, she focuses on the social impact of her work. “When founding my company,” she says, “I thought of how to make it a social enterprise.” In 2018, her ride-sharing service really took off. DriveHER now has 60 women drivers; about 3,000 customers downloaded
the app and signed up during the beta-phase. — Franziska Andre
Founder and Managing Director of
In 2015, five years after his family had to pay thousands of pounds in fees to sell their home, Akshay Ruparelia founded Doorsteps.co.uk, a UK-based online real estate agent. In its early days, he worked during lunch breaks in school and knocked on people’s doors to ask them if they wanted to sell their house.
His hard work paid off. Today, his startup is the tenth largest real estate agent in the UK and is valued at GBP 18 million. In 2018, Akshay was included in the London Power 100, a list of 100 most influential people in London.
Doorsteps’ “unique selling proposition” is its low fees. In an industry where even online estate agents charge at least GBP 800 upfront, Doorsteps charges just GBP 99. Instead of hiring full-time professionals, “mums and dads” across the UK freelance for him. Then, using the Internet, he made it super-easy to list properties. He backed this with responsive customer service – which helped him get positive reviews online — and word-of-mouth. “When the public saw the need for a service, they got behind it,” he says. — Sankalp Khandelwal
Founder of Bare Necessities
Three years ago, Sahar Mansoor, 27, turned her zero-waste lifestyle into a profitable business. Her company ‘Bare Necessities’ sells recyclable home and personal care
Mansoor, who grew up in India, calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur.” The inspiration for her company came in 2015, when she moved home after studying in the UK. Her sister had just had a baby, and Mansoor was shocked at how much waste is produced when raising a child. “That’s when I decided to stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution,” she says.
Sahar began leading a zero-waste life, producing her own soap, shampoo and toothpaste. When people started asking where they could buy the products, she founded ‘Bare Necessities’, a company that balances profit and sustainability by selling environmentally-friendly goods in reusable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
The Bangalore-based company now has six employees. “My goal is for less waste to end up in the landfill,” Mansoor says. “That’s my mission.” — Silvia Ellena
Co-founder of Adalah
What does capital for purpose look like in post-war Yemen? “Taxes,” Shady M. Qubaty says.
The 22-year old is the first Yemeni undergraduate
admitted to Yale University.
These days, he’s working on a plan for Yemen’s post-war economic recovery. He co-founded Yemen’s first non-aligned, legal non-governmental organisation in 2016. Adalah (“Justice”) works as the official secretariat for the UK parliament on Yemen-related issues.
Qubaty hopes the future brings peace – and prosperity. “As soon as the war ends, that is the beginning of the new Yemen,” says Qubaty. “Economists have predicted that [post-war] Yemen could have the highest GDP growth in the world.”
How can this capital be used for a sustainable future? “Tourism [could be] a huge resource to employ people and generate sustainable income,” Qubaty says.
Another sustainable way for the government to run itself could be raising taxes. “In Yemen, just 5 to 10% of GDP is taxed – a very low amount.” Cutting corruption, too, would free up capital for other purposes. — Julia Neumann
Tokyo Medical & Dental University doctor
Tokyo clinician Marie Kitano is the Wonder Woman kids didn’t know they needed. She works as a medical doctor on weekdays, and as a mental health researcher on weekends.
“I study the effects of toxic stress on children,” says Kitano. “It happens when they are under pressure for a long time, and can cause irreversible effects to the brain.” The stress can be induced in many ways, from parental neglect to bullying, natural catastrophes, verbal, physical and sexual violence, and more.
Although stressors can be hard to control, Kitano aims to raise awareness about their consequences. “I want to contribute to research from a medical point of view by measuring the stress and seeing how it affects the brain,” Kitano says.
She shifted her field of interest from developmental disabilities to child abuse a year ago, when she read about a five-yearold in Tokyo who died because of neglect. “When I was her age, I didn’t even have a conception of death,” Kitano says. She decided to make children a priority. “Nobody stands up for them,” she says, “so I had to.” — Laurianne Croteau
Founder of AMBIZ
In Indonesia, unemployment for college graduates is a serious issue. Each year, half of the country’s 1.5 million graduates can’t find a job. The obstacle isn’t job skills. “It’s because there isn’t a good match between the employer and the employee,” says Rani Khodija, a 23-year-old Indonesian entrepreneur.
To solve this problem, Khodija co-founded a platform called AMBIZ, meaning ambitious. The idea is that by providing good internships, AMBIZ can help college students find a job after graduating.
Because it is difficult for young but fast-growing companies without name recognition and recruiting budgets to attract graduates, AMBIZ focuses on startups. “At young companies, your contribution really matters,” Khodija says. “Our generation needs flexibility, real projects, and real empowerment. We can provide them with these experiences.”
Meanwhile, Khodija tries to convince companies that training interns is an investment, not an expense. “When you teach them much-needed skills, they will be thankful and loyal to you,” Khodija says. — Hongtao Hao
Founder of Sahara Sparks
Africa is on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the way its policy-makers embrace technology to develop its industries will determine whether or not it can be a leader, according to Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike.
The young Tanzanian entrepreneur founded his consulting firm, Sahara Ventures, five years ago. After studying in India, one of the world leaders when it comes to start-up incubators, Rajabu Mtambalike noticed the lack of innovation hubs in Tanzania. “I wanted to create a platform that would help to build Tanzania’s innovation ecosystem,” he says. He co-created Sahara Sparks, an event that brings entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers together in Dar es Salaam and other African cities to discuss innovation.
The event is a chance for start-ups to pitch their businesses and find mentors. Rajabu Mtambalike is convinced Africa is ready for a change – and that the rest of the world has a role to play. “We don’t want aid,” he says. “Don’t consider giving us grants. Instead, let’s discuss what kind of business we can do together.” — Laurianne Croteau
Environmental engineer at the University of California, Davis
Partly due to climate change, water resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Relying on existing water supplies is not enough. At some point, we have to find ways to reuse dirty water.
Hannah Safford, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Davis, is exploring the potential of a technology called flow cytometry to monitor waterborne viruses. “If we’re ever going to achieve widespread recycling of wastewater into drinking water, we need fast and reliable ways to ensure
that treatment processes are working as intended,” Safford says.
The former White House aide sees herself as a bridge linking “the science and the policy-making community.” But, she says, you don’t need an engineering degree to make a difference. Everyone can step up and contribute to a more sustainable environment. “You can show up to your city council meeting and you can provide comments about what issues you care about,” Safford says. “ It’s amazing to me how many opportunities there actually are for people to get involved in policy processes, and how few people take advantage.”— Hongtao Hao
Co-Founder and CEO of ImmerLearn
Wladimir Nikoluk wants a new approach to the use of algorithms in the social sector.
Immerlearn aims to build ethical and transparent data solutions. “Algorithms can cause a lot of damage,” the Ukrainian-born, German-raised entrepreneur says. Improperly implemented, “they create biases against ethnic minorities, biases against religious minorities, biases against genders, and so on.”
Nikoluk’s experience working with victims of the Syrian crisis in Amman, Jordan helped crystallise his thoughts. “People lacked the insights to know which programmesto fund,” he says. He met his future co-founders in Amman and began to work on software solutions.
Multiple insights emerged to help Nikoluk and his colleagues tackle their goals, such as “segmentation,” which considers the needs of distinct groups in different populations and how their services are experienced. Data-based predictive algorithms, meanwhile, calculate the odds of events such as famine and predict who will suffer, in order to prepare for them and mitigate the consequences. — Connor Bilboe