So, we put our heads together and put this list together with the hopes of spreading some inspiration along the way.
Some of these individuals you may know, some you may not. Our primary goal was to highlight those who have fearlessly stepped out to launch a new program, initiative, business or idea designed to make a difference in the world or community around them.
It was pretty difficult to narrow it down to just 10, so if there ‘s anyone who you think we should add to the list, send us a comment on Facebook or Twitter and tag the person who you think we should include. And of course, don’t forget to include the hashtag #LeadTheChange in your post.
Now, without further ado, here’s our list of 10 Inspiring Change Leaders You Should Know:
Founder, The I AM KENYAN project
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
After the 2007 post-election violence, Sophie launched the I AM KENYAN project, a youth-led reconciliation campaign that uses photography as a unique platform to advocate for countrywide reconciliation and individual responsibility for peace especially during the upcoming Kenyan elections in 2013. The initiative aims to unite all Kenyans from all walks of life, all over the world to affirm their Kenyan identity, in all aspects of their lives and stand-up for peace. Over the course of a year, the I AM KENYAN campaign has reached over 4 million people worldwide, along with conducting 15 local peace marches.
Founder, Moving Windmills Project
Location: Dowa, Malawi
William gained national fame in Malawi when in 2002, he built a windmill to power electrical appliances in his family’s house using blue gem trees, bicycle parts and other materials collected in a local scrapyard. Most recently, William’s project helped to build three classroom blocks for the Wimbe primary school in Malawi’s Kasungu district. These new classrooms have solar panel installations that allow the students to study late into the night. The Foundation has also introduced a one-laptop-per-child initiative, which enables us to expose these youngsters on how to use computers at an early age.
Founder, Moving Windmills Project
Location: Dowa, Malawi
Laetitia is not your average 17-year-old. At the age of 14, her passion for agriculture and education drove her to start the Women’s Rabbit Association in the remote village of Bukura in Kenya. Laetitia launched the rabbit breeding project to support local women in the village. Each of the women who work on the rabbit farm receive a small salary and free farming inputs such as seeds. The project also supports their children’s education with school uniforms and stationery.
Founder & Executive Director, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! INC
Location: Brooklyn, USA
In 2006, New York-based DJ and former model Beverly Bond founded BLACK GIRLS ROCK! a youth empowerment mentoring program for girls. That same year, she created the annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and communities. In 2010, the awards show was picked up by BET, and now, in its fourth year, the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards continues to attract millions of viewers worldwide, celebrating the accomplishments and wide talent of women throughout the African Diaspora.
CEO, Co-Founder, Awethu Project
Location: Johannesburg, S. Africa
After studying and working in the US and UK, Yusuf Randera-Rees returned to his home in South Africa, to launch The Awethu Project, a social enterprise that liberates untapped entrepreneurial potential in the country’s under-resourced communities. Aspirations for Awethu entrepreneurs are unprecedented among peer organizations, and its talent identification process is entirely innovative. Awethu’s story has captured South Africa’s imagination to the extent that founders believe they can inspire an entrepreneurship revolution in a country in which entrepreneurship rates are dangerously low.
Founder, House of Tara
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Following her dream of setting up an African beauty company, Tara founded House of Tara International at age 20, while still an undergraduate at Lagos State University. Starting with only $100 she is now the CEO of Nigeria’s leading cosmetics company. She has since then grown her company it into a successful franchise and took on other projects such as 100 voices which strives to share the stories of 100 Nigerian Micro-Entrepreneurs in the hopes that these in turn influence others. Tara recently made it to Forbes’ 20 Young Powerful Women.
Location: New York, USA
Mark Bustos may be a hair stylist at an upscale New York City salon during the week, but each Sunday, he spends his day off venturing through the city in search of anyone in need who wants a hair cut. It’s a simple gesture, but one that goes a long way. It just goes to show, all of us can contribute in some way to make someone’s life just a little better every day. Read more on Mark’s story here.
Founder & Executive Director of Shule Direct
Location: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Faraja’s organization that creates digital educational content to empower youth and children. In 2014, She won the ‘Tigo Reach for Change—‘Change Leader Award’ for her work in leveraging technology to advance children’s rights particularly education in Tanzania.
Mohamed Amine Belarbi
Social Entrepreneur, Publisher & Speaker
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
By the time he was 19 years old, Mohamed Amine Belarbi had already started an NGO with six branches across the MENA region, a Foundation for social and entrepreneurial support for Moroccan students and a Marketing and Design startup with clients in construction, fashion, branding and technology. Now, the student at NYU Abu Dhabi continues to run several businesses, along with his Gulf Elite Magazine, which has over 35,000 readers per-month. With so much accomplished at such a young age, we can’t wait to see what he does next! More on Mohamed here.
Location: London, UK
In 2010, Ghanaian-British publicist and social entrepreneur Simone-Bresi-Ando noticed that there was a void in the UK for women of colour to meet, share, discuss their challenges and celebrate their accomplishments within a closed environment. After its first launch in 2011, Simone’s I-Am-Possible Conversation quickly became the go-to event for women of colour across the UK. In 2013, she launched her first I-am-Possible Conversation for young girls at the House of Commons and later a US-version in New York City.