What does success look like in today’s diversifying world? Leaders League has tallied up a two-part series of 20 young and inspiring entrepreneurial personalities from across the globe whose goals and ambitions have given them the courage to turn their dreams into action. (Please note that the order is alphabetical by country).
1. Minhaj Chowdhury, Drinkwell, Bangladesh
The 25-year old’s Drinkwell has transformed a water crisis into an entrepreneurial opportunity for rural Bangladesh by blending proprietary filtration technology with a franchise business model. Drinkwell has helped clean up drinking water for 200 million people in Bangladesh and India in areas where the water was contaminated by arsenic and fluoride. Drinkwell’s filters, which are valued at $8,000 per unit, are 40% cheaper to operate and are now used at over 200 water sources in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos and Nepal.
2. Alain Nteff, GiftedMom, Cameroon
Due to the high death toll among newborns and pregnant women in Nteff’s community in Cameroon, he decided to use technology to do something about it. Nteff developed a mobile app which allows teenage mothers and health workers to calculate due dates. His application has more than 500 downloads (which is considered very much in for the area) and is integrated with locally made phones, therefore not limited to smartphone usage. The application called GiftedMom has 1,200 pregnant women and mothers as beneficiaries and has led to a 20% increase in antenatal attendance rate for pregnant women in 15 rural communities. He plans to reach 50,000 pregnant women and mothers by the end of this year and 5 million across the continent by 2017.
3. Senai Wolderufael, Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Company, Ethiopia
The 27-year-old Ethiopian entrepreneur is the founder of Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Company, an Addis Ababa-based outfit that produces and exports popular Ethiopian spice blends. The company distinguishes itself by only employing women. It exports spices such as shiro, mitmita, korarima and berbere to the United States and Europe. Recently, demand for Ethiopian spices has increased significantly in Asia and Latin America, opening up new markets of opportunity for Feed Green.
4. Karan Chopra, GADCO, Ghana
Karan Chopra grew up in Ghana and is now helping the nation's poorest farmers gain higher profits. GADCO is an agricultural food business that offers integrated and sustainable solutions in cereal and protein-based food markets. He hopes to make the idea that starving farmers an “oxymoron” in the future by helping local farmers grow their crops by providing them with seeds and fertilizers in order to sell their produce in the global supply chain. GADCO has now become Ghana's largest producer of rice, effectively making it possible for farmers to profit from their labors.
5. Ajaita Shah, Frontier Markets, India
Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, Ajaita has 5 years of microfinance experience as a Credit plus Manager at Ujjivan Financial Services. She has since decided to create rural marketing, sales, and service distribution companies that provide low-income households in India access to affordable and quality consumer durables. To date, Frontier Markets has sold over 20,000 clean energy products in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and is ever-present in 16 districts of each state busy replacing the old hazardous alternative, Kerosene. Ajaita is looking to target 50 million households in the next 5 years in order to provide rural households with clean energy.
6. Nazanin Daneshvar, Takhfifan Website, Iran
With a background in IT, Nazanin Daneshvar worked in the e-commerce field in Iran, the UK and Germany. When she was 26 years, she decided to return to Iran and launch Takhfifan together with her sister Negin. Despite the lack of financial resources, the company proved to be very successful, and after three and a half years became active in Iran’s major cities Tehran, Mashhad, Karaj, Shiraz, Esfahan, Rasht and Tabriz. The company has created over 60 jobs and is currently going live with more than 20 new transactions every day in Tehran alone. Today, Nazanin Daneshvar has become a renowned female high-tech entrepreneur and her projects keep on going. She recently launched the first local search and reviews platform for the Iranian market, called Tarinan, which is available in formats for a computer, for Android, and iOS. This platform allows users to browse a large number of places such as coffee shops, restaurants and more all over Iran, with the option to share their experiences with others and to connect with friends.
7. Trushar Khetia, Tria Group, Kenya
Mr. Khetia, the founder of Tria Group is a 27-year old Kenyan serial entrepreneur with multiple businesses in different sectors across East Africa. The idea of Tria Group gives brands an alternative method of advertising by working with outdoor advertising platforms and using public transit vehicles to market leading consumer goods in Kenya, as popular public transport allows consumers to see the advertising more easily. According to Trustar in Africa, “the retail industry is the largest and most accessible channel to influence society (ies).” the According to Forbes, the company has annual revenues exceeding Sh117M ($1.3M).
8. Manuel Wiechers, Ilumexico, Mexico
In Mexico more than 3 million people live without electricity in their homes. The 24-year old entrepreneur had a vision of using smart solar technology to light up Mexico’s rural communities. Ilumexico has developed a comprehensive model designed to fight poverty through the supply of clean energy. Last year, Ilumexico committed to aiding 3 million people living in Mexico without electricity, by installing 1,500 solar home electricity systems throughout the rural countryside. The company hopes that by 2025 they will have helped 17,000 people from the beginning of their project in 2009. In addition to their commitment to helping people light up their homes, the organization has committed to outfitting 22 schools with solar arrays, lighting and computers, as well as establishing training programs to keep those systems running in the years to come.
9. Lateefa Alwaalan, Yatooq, Saudi Arabia
Alwaalan started her company Yatooq whilst still studying for her MBA. Yatooq is the first company to make ready-made Arabic coffee and Arabic coffee machines. Lateefa got her idea by reflecting on her own experience in how time consuming and complex it was to make authentic Arabic coffee. Lateefa took advantage of what she learned at business school to develop a technological solution. While working in a pharmaceutical company, Lateefa began developing Yatooq and selling coffee blends, which soon led her to partner with a local incubator where she spent the next two years developing her product until it was ready for launch in 2013. The product is portable and reduces brewing time by 75% while preventing the coffee from boiling over. Yatooq is the first company to create a simple alternative to traditional Arabic coffee brewing, and as such, has built a strong distribution network in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the gulf.
10. Jae Lee, Movable Ads, South Korea
Jae Lee the founder and CEO of Movable Ads. He spent years working at some of Korea’s largest companies until one day he decided to venture out and develop a mobile advertising application that empowers sports fans from all over the world to engage and cheer for their favorite teams or players in real time. The company today has offices in Texas and Seoul, and has already begun to expand into the European market with another branch in Germany. According to Lee, the startup mentality in Korea has a lot of room for development and it is hard to find support, since the startup culture requires movement, which he believes is something lacking in the country. He assures young aspirers that “If you’re not willing to go outside the parameters set by conglomerates, that safety net of success, there’s no point venturing out on your own.”
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