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Profiling 15 young global leaders in business who are changing the world

Mathieu Flamini, Miroslava Duma and Mustafa Suleyman were among the entrepreneurs featured in the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders 2018 list - which has previously included Google CEO Larry Page, human rights barrister Amal Clooney and astronaut Naoko Yamazaki

From curing diseases using DNA analysis to discovering greener energy, this year’s World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders list features 100 people under the age of 40 – who have created unique, selfless businesses and non-profit organisations.

The list is complied of entrepreneurs – selected from more than 40 countries – including investors and philanthropists who have been recognised for their commitment to finding the answer to difficult issues affecting the world.

This includes a cleaner environment, better education for all and an end to poverty.

Alumni from previous years included Google CEO Larry Page, human rights barrister Amal Clooney and astronaut Naoko Yamazaki.

This year’s list includes well-known faces such as GF Biochemicals co-founder and international footballer Mathieu Flamini and Russian entrepreneur Miroslava Duma, as well as others who are yet to hit the mainstream.

Here’s a selection of 15 young entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe.

 

Mustafa Suleyman, UK

Mustafa Suleyman is a 34-year-old British entrepreneur, activist and co-founder of DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company acquired by American multinational conglomerate Alphabet – better known as the parent company of Google.

At the age of 19, Suleyman dropped out of Oxford University to set up a Muslim Youth Helpline, which focused on counselling over the phone and went on to become one of the largest mental health support services in the UK.

After this, Suleyman worked for a wide range of clients including the UN, Dutch Government and WWF.

DeepMind recognised itself as one of the leaders in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector and was supported by venture capital firm Founders Fund and entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Scott Banister.

As it continued to flourish, in 2014 the company was bought by Google and is now responsible for integrating Al technology across Google products.

In February 2016, Suleyman launched DeepMind Health at the Royal Society of Medicine, which builds clinician-led technology for the NHS and other partners.

 

Xavier Duportet, France

The co-founder of Eligo Bioscience and CEO of Hello Tomorrow, Xavier Duportet is already leading the way in revolutionary pharmaceuticals.

Aged 26 when he was working towards his PhD, Duportet became a pioneer in  science and technology and created the pre-clinical-stage and synthetic biology company Eligo Bioscience along with Dr David Bikard and associate professors Timothy Lu from MIT and Luciano Marraffini.

Xavier Duportet CEO of Eligo Bioscience

The French company treats illnesses such as Crohn’s disease by creating targeted antibiotics that fix the problem of drug resistance.

Now 30, Duportet is also the president of non-profit organisation Hello Tomorrow, which helps science entrepreneurs solve the world’s pressing issues.

The company operates in 30 countries, with 12 full-time employees in Paris and 100 volunteers across 45 cities globally.

 

Miroslava Duma, Russia

Miroslava Duma is a Russian 32-year-old digital entrepreneur and investor.

Duma is the founder of digital company Buro 24/7 and Future Tech Lab – which she set up during her time as a journalist for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Tatler, Forbes Woman and Glamour.

In 2011, Duma made the decision to set up Buro 24/7 after noticing a gap in the market for a lifestyle platform featuring the latest news on fashion and culture.

It secured huge clients and advertisers and went on to launch in 11 other countries including Singapore, Ukraine and Malaysia.

Miroslava Duma CEO of Buro 24/7 and Future Tech Lab

She is also a member of the advisory board of Naked Heart Foundation – a charity founded by Natalia Vodianova.

In 2014, she set up Future Tech Lab – which has a hybrid structure that aims to help new technologies and sustainable innovations connect with investors to create products and brands that move the fashion industry forward.

The tech lab also specialises in smart textiles and bio nanotechnologies.

After all her work, it’s no surprise she’s been dubbed “a force of the fashion industry” by the Financial Times and “most connected digital entrepreneur in fashion” by Vogue.

 

Billy Parish, USA

Billy Parish has been the CEO at solar fintech company Mosaic Inc for five years .

The California-based company was founded in 2010 and offers loans for commercial solar developments projects.

It launched on Kickstarter after being set up by Billy Parish, Dan Rosen, Arthur Colston and Steve Richmond to facilitate crowdfunding of loans for solar development projects.

In spring 2012, it financed five solar power plants through a zero-interest investment model.

In September of the same year, the company backed its first solar power plant, which also offered a return on investment.

Over the years, Mosaic has managed to get more than $500m in funding from companies such as PartnerRe, Germany’s DZ Bank and New York Green Bank, and it is now one of the largest lender of home solar power in the US.

On a personal level, Parish has been honoured as a “climate hero” in Rolling Stone magazine.

The 36-year-old’s talents go beyond being an entrepreneur – he is the author of Amazon bestseller book Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money & Community in a Changing World and has also founded the world’s largest youth climate change organisation.

He dropped out of Yale University to help launch the Energy Action Coalition, which later became the largest youth-led clean energy advocacy network in the world – raising $10m in four years and helping more than 600 universities make commitments to climate neutrality.

He has always been passionate about the environment, – in 2005, he led a three-day fast in front of the White House in protest against climate change.

Parish also helped create five million green jobs in the US when he was given the leading role to create Clean Energy Corps proposal.

 

Mathieu Flamini, France

Former Arsenal and AC Milan footballer Mathieu Flamini is also the co-founder of biochemical company, GF Biochemicals.

GF Biochemicals finds sustainable alternatives to oil-based products and hopes to one day revolutionise the £20bn energy industry.

Mathieu Flamini, GF Biochemicals
Mathieu Flamini, right, set up bioscience firm GF Biochemicals with business partner Pasquale Granata, left (Credit: Twitter/Mathieu Flamini)

It now employs 80 people and 400 remotely, with offices in Milan and the Netherlands.

Since starting the business, Flamini has been nominated as bio-based businessperson of the year at the World Bio Markets Awards in 2016.

The Frenchman is also a member of the Paris 2024 Olympic Environmental Excellence Committee and also helped create BIOCIRCE, which is Europe’s first masters’ degree dedicated to the bio-economy.

 

 

Elaine Kim, Singapore

Talk about doing it all, the 35-year-old mother-of-three Elaine Kim has doctor, entrepreneur, writer and philanthropy on her CV.

She is the co-founder of luxury bridal boutique Trinity Gallery, as well as co-working space and child-minding service company Trehaus.

Trehaus was founded by four working mums to support others in a similar position, while Kim also set up CRIB, a social enterprise that supports female entrepreneurs.

With a women-only team, Kim wanted to achieve flexibility that lets women prioritise their families but still focus on their businesses.

She claims: “Women-led businesses get 60% of funding male-led businesses do.”

Going forward, Kim wants to continue to make a social impact and give women a voice to inspire others and help them become more confident when working in senior positions.

 

Nadiem Makarim, Indonesia

In a country where some of the richest people are over the age of 60, Nadiem Makarim is beating the odds.

At just 33 years old, he is offering services such as transportation, logistics, mobile payments, food delivery in various cities across Indonesia.

Makarim graduated from Harvard with an MBA and prior to setting up his company, he worked as an associate at consulting firm McKinsey.

In 2010, he helped co-found Go-Jek which, in a short space of time, expanded from being a motorcycle ride-hailing app to an on-demand transportation app. Some of its rivals in Indonesia now include Uber.

GO-JEK App
Credit: Riameilinda

In 2016, Go-Jek raised $550m from private investors at a $1.3bn valuation.

It now has 250,000 drivers and over 3,000 services providers.

It isn’t showing signs of slowing down – the app now operates across 50 cities in the country, including Bali, Sidoarjo and Yogyakarta, and now includes food deliveries and e-payment services.

It is said to be in the process of raising another $1.2bn in a round led by Tencent, a Chinese internet services giant.

 

Shoko Takahashi, Japan

Shoko Takahashi was a doctoral student at the University of Tokyo when she started her business venture Genequest Inc.

The 30-year-old’s company provides biotechnology services – which includes DNA analysis and other physical and chemical analysis that can determine whether the person is at risk of developing certain cancers, diabetes and male pattern baldness.

The gene analysis can cost between $400 to $1,300 per person and gives people their results in four to six weeks.

There’s plans to develop the biotech services by making it possible to activate genes for long life and slow the process of ageing at the genetic level.

 

Sarah Al Suhaimi, Saudi Arabia

Sarah Al Suhaimi is Saudi Arabia’s first woman to chair the country’s stock exchange, the largest stock market in the Middle East.

Al Suhaimi is leading comprehensive efforts to further connect the Saudi capital markets with the global system by 2030.

As well as this, she is also the CEO and board director of Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, the National Commercial Bank Capital (NCB).

It is described as the largest asset manager in Saudi Arabia, with $12bn and offers its clients the full range of investment services, including award-winning funds.

In her first four years at the bank, assets more than doubled and market shares grew in brokerage and corporate finance.

The Harvard Business School graduate has a long history in finance.

Prior to her post at NCB, she was the CIO at Jadwa Investment, managing over SR17bn of assets in public and private equity, real estate and fixed income.

In 2017, Bloomberg Businessweek named her as one of the 50 people to watch in business.

 

Anushka Ratnayake, Mali

Anushka Ratnayake is the founder and CEO of myAgro and has worked in rural Africa since 2008.

She assists small farmers in Mali to increase food security and market access, while also helping overcome poverty.

Anushka Ratnayake – CEO of myAgro

Before setting up myAgro, Ratnayake developed key components for One Acre Fund’s core operational model, which supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with asset-based financing and agriculture training services to reduce hunger and poverty.

She also created management-training programmes and travelled across Africa and South Asia looking for innovations in micro-finance and agricultural sectors.

In 2011, myAgro opened its first store and received the first grant from the Mulago fund and in spring 2012 they supplied seeds and fertilizers to more than 280 peasant families.

Some of its investors include Kiva, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and Salesforce Foundation.

It has now joined the Senegal market and, as of 2014, the number of farmers working with the company exceeded to 12,000 people – likely doubling since then.

 

Natalie Paida Morris, Zimbabwe

Natalie Paida Morris, 35, runs the largest mobile financial service in Africa, with over six million customers.

With more than 11 years of experience in fintech, she started her career as a senior mobile financial services consultant at Fortune 500 company NCR Corporation.

EcoCash was launched in 2011 and Morris joined the company in 2015.

The mobile money transfer service moves about $2.5m every day in Zimbabwe alone, and in 2010, 14 million Kenyans transferred $7bn across their country using the app.

Morris was born in the UK in 1983 and attended Middlesex University before obtaining an MBA at Imperial College of London.

While at university, she worked with kiosk manufacturing company National Cash Register.

Morris later moved to Zimbabwe to take her leading role as CEO.

In 2016, she was said to be the youngest CEO of a mobile money company in Africa.

 

Tom Szaky, USA

Tom Szaky is the CEO and co-founder of TerraCycle – a company that makes consumer products from waste.

It is the current global leader in the collection and recycling of post-consumer waste, which typically ends up in a landfill.

The New Jersey-based company was set up in 2001 by Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer whose initial funding came from family and friends, as well as rewards from business plan contests.

TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky

Without the help of many investors, TerraCycle managed to reach $19.3m in 2016 and expected to be over the $20m mark by end of 2017.

Originally from Hungary, 36-year-old Szaky moved to the US at the age of four and attended Princeton University to study psychology and economics, but later dropped out to focus all his time on TerraCycle.

Before TerraCycle came to light, Szaky launched three small online businesses called werehouse.com, priority.com and studentmarks.com.

In 2006, he was named the number one CEO under 30 by Inc. magazine for TerraCycle.

 

Michael Faye, USA

The co-founder and CEO of non-profit organisation GiveDirectly, Michael Faye has recently been recognised as one of the ten most innovative companies in finance.

In the hope of alleviating poverty, Paul Niehaus, Rohit Wanchoo, Jeremy Shapiro and Michael Faye set up GiveDirectly, which operates in East Africa.

The business helps families living in extreme poverty by wiring unconditional cash transfers to them via mobile phones.

It currently transfers funds to people in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and will undoubtedly expand.

In 2012, it received a $2.4m Global Impact Award from Google, and in 2014 the founders announced plans to create a for-profit technology company Segovia – which was aimed at improving the efficiency of cash transfer distributions in the developing world.

GiveDirectly announced a $30m initiative to test universal basic income in 2016.

In 2017, it applied its model for the first time in the US and distributed cash-loaded debit cards to residents of Rose City, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey.

 

Kerstin Forsberg, Peru

Kerstin Forsberg contributes to new scientific research, shaping public policies on marine conservation, as well as expanding global awareness education.

She is the founder and director of Planeta Oceano, an ocean conservation activist pioneering multi-disciplinary strategies that protect the marine species and the environment.

In 2016, she won the Young Laureates by Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

Forsberg has helped local communities in Tumbes address unsustainable fishing practices, inadequate waste management and pollution – which are all causing potentially negative health consequences to more than 200,000 people.

 

Kanika Tekriwal, India

Kanika Tekriwal is the young CEO and co-founder of JetSetGo – the Indian-based private jet concierge service that uses technology to link passengers to planes through an online marketplace.

After working in the aviation industry since the age of 17, a role with aerospace and aviation innovation consultancy Aerospace Resources, she made a return to India to take on the role of CEO.

Tekriwal, who has an MBA has mentioned in interviews how she would like to make JetSetGo the “Uber of the skies”.

The private jet concierge service creates the flight experience with airport escorts, ground staff and specially-trained cabin crew.

The company also work with making medical evacuation, air ambulances and helicopter arrangements, and is growing at a rate of 70% year on year.

Tekriwal is now looking to expand operations in Africa and Indonesia.