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Skoll Announces Social Entrepreneur Recipients

22 April 2015 at 11:06 am
Xavier Smerdon
The Skoll Foundation has announced the four recipients of the 2015 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship worth $5 million.

Xavier Smerdon | 22 April 2015 at 11:06 am


Skoll Announces Social Entrepreneur Recipients
22 April 2015 at 11:06 am

The Skoll Foundation has announced the four recipients of the 2015 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship worth $5 million.

The announcement was made at the 12th Annual Skoll World Forum being held this year in Oxford, UK.

The Foundation says the Skoll Awards distinguish transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised to make an even greater impact on the world.

This year’s winners are social entrepreneurs involved in developing new solutions to help preserve the world’s resources by building sustainable coastal communities, expanding transparency to fight pollution, investing in the promise of girls and securing a better future for the rural poor.

Each awardee receives a $1.25 million, three-year core support investment to upscale their work and increase their impact.

“Social entrepreneurs dare to change the world,” Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation said.

“Within every social entrepreneur is an unwavering belief that big, seemingly intractable problems offer unsurpassed opportunities. By instigating seismic change in our society where it is desperately needed—in the education of girls and the protection of resources like our air, oceans, and public lands—these four entrepreneurs are giving us good reason to believe in a radically better future.

“The Skoll Award recognizes social entrepreneurs whose innovations have already had significant, proven impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems, and invests directly in the promise of even greater impact at scale.

“By investing in organizations when an innovation is ripe for accelerated and scaled adoption, the Skoll Awards help unleash the full global potential and reach of social entrepreneurs.

The winners are:

Alasdair Harris from Blue Ventures: Building sustainable coastal communities

Ten years ago, in a coastal village in Madagascar, Alasdair Harris tested an elegantly simple model that put Blue Ventures on the map. He encouraged residents to take charge of their local fishery by cordoning off a small section of their octopus-fishing area for a designated period of time. When the area was re-opened, the community saw huge increases in their catch and incomes. Building on this success, local communities created Madagascar’s first local committee to manage and conserve marine resources. Since that auspicious start, Blue Ventures has helped replicate this model along thousands of miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean. Beyond managing fisheries, Blue Ventures has integrated family planning and health services into its livelihoods and conservation work, showing the world that protecting the ocean can and should go hand-in-hand with improving lives.

Learn more at

Ma Jun from the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs: Lifting the veil on pollution

Rapid economic progress in China has come at a steep cost—severe degradation of the environment. In the past, communities had no way to track or report industrial pollution. Ma Jun addressed this gap by creating tools for people to access information about the land, air, and water around them using existing government data. The result has been increased public participation in environmental governance, resulting in nearly 2,000 factories taking action to clean up their operations. The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) also promotes sustainable global supply chains by getting large corporations and multinationals like Apple, Hewlett Packard, H&M, and Gap to monitor the environmental performance of their suppliers. This innovative, encompassing approach to transparency allows people in China to play a central role in improving the health of their communities, helps people around the world make environmentally responsible consumer decisions, and helps consumers and brands make greener purchasing decisions. Learn more at

Safeena Husain, Educate Girls: Investing in the promise of girls

In recent years, India has enacted policies and invested in girls’ education, resulting in dramatic gains in access to education. However, in many areas, community expectations and accountability for educating girls remain low—a majority of girls do not complete their primary education. Safeena Husain founded Educate Girls to ensure that girls in India’s most marginalized rural communities are able to achieve their full potential. Educate Girls partners with public schools, trains local champions for girls’ education, and mobilizes communities to create their own action plans to make education more accessible and accountable to girls. Since 2007, Educate Girls has grown from a 50-school pilot project into a large-scale effort reaching 1 million children in 7,500 schools. With plans to achieve even greater scale over the next few years, Educate Girls is preparing a generation of young women to enter the formal economy and help lift their families out of poverty.

Learn more at

Jagdeesh Rao Puppala, Foundation for Ecological Security: Securing common land ensures a better future for the rural poor

In India, many poor rural communities rely on publicly-owned lands for their food and livelihood. Yet these lands have been managed poorly, leading to degradation and exploitation. Jagdeesh Rao Puppala has long promoted the idea that the well-being of rural communities depends on the balance of social and ecological systems. The Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) helps villagers secure community rights to publicly-owned land and support regulations to manage it in a more sustainable and productive way. The result of this collaborative work has been higher quality of soil, water, and biodiversity, leading to improved agricultural productivity and economic security for the rural poor. To date, FES has secured community rights to nearly 4 million acres of land in India, providing communities a solid foundation on which to build local democracies, sustainable livelihoods and better futures.

Learn more at

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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