David Auerbach :: Sanergy
A particularly gruesome public toilet in China and a guy trying to run a toilet business in Nairobi's slums inspired David to start Sanergy. With co-founders Lindsay Stradley and Ani Vallabhaneni, the Sanergy team saw a better way and came up with a "build–collect–convert" approach to pay toilets.
Tyler Gage :: Runa
Just after college, Tyler went to the Amazon to do linguistics research. While he was there, he decided to dedicate himself to a bright future for the region's indigenous communities and spent five years developing Fair Trade initiatives and cultural preservation programs. After he and Dan MacCombie started Runa, Tyler turned down a Fulbright scholarship in order to run Runa full-time.
Anushka Ratnayake :: MyAgro
Anushka has lived in nine countries and traveled in 40, and she spent five years learning the ropes at Kiva and One Acre Fund. She saw poverty as a winnable battle, and realized that local businesses in Africa have amazing potential. Well-armed with extensive experience and a new idea, she launched her own venture with smallholder farmers in Mali.
Mark Hemsworth :: Rent to Own
In 2003, Mark discovered Engineers Without Borders and began raising money for the cause. In 2008, he went with the organization to rural Zambia and volunteered with Africa's largest honey exporter. There, he found that most entrepreneurs couldn't grow their business because they didn't have access to capital or to equipment that could improve their productivity. That's when he started Rent-to-Own.
Laurie Marker :: Cheetah Conservation Fund
Laurie came to conservation through a circuitous route. She starting working as a veterinary technician, and eventually found herself running a wild animal park in the US. She fell in love with the cheetah, got herself a PhD on the subject, and in 1990, she moved to Namibia to set up the Cheetah Conservation Fund to make sure that the cheetah could thrive.
Raj Panjabi :: Last Mile Health
At age nine, Raj narrowly escaped a civil war in his home country of Liberia. He went to the US, attended medical school, and in 2005, Raj returned to serve the people he had left behind. Raj worked with fellow Liberian refugees to rebuild village health care in his home country by pioneering a new community-based health worker model.
Nat Robinson :: Juhudi Kilimo
Raised in a rural mountain town in Colorado, Nat has traveled, worked or studied in 40 countries across six continents in the areas of business, nonprofit and government. After working as a financial consultant in China and the U.S., he accepted a short-term project in Kenya with the K-Rep Development Agency (KDA). Three years later, Nat turned Juhudi Kilimo from a non-profit pilot program within KDA to a fully operational for-profit enterprise serving smallholder farmers.
Pema Yangchen :: Lhasa Maternal Healthcare
Pema grew up in Tibet and trained in maternal child healthcare at the Lhasa Medical School. She formed a remarkable partnership with an American midwife from Utah, and they worked successfully to save lives at birth in several Tibetan counties. When the international organization left, Pema formed an indigenous NGO to carry on the work in her home country.