Skoll Foundation Announces 2018 Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

PALO ALTO, CA, APRIL 2, 2018 —Kicking off next week’s 15th Annual Skoll World Forum, the Skoll Foundation announced the six winners of the 2018 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

The Skoll Awards distinguish transformative leaders whose organizations disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change, and are poised to create even greater impact on the world.

“It is a special moment when our ‘family’ of extraordinary social entrepreneurs expands with the selection of new awardees,” said Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “Our community immediately strengthens, as does our collective understanding of how to solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

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

“Working side-by-side with those most affected by violence, injustice or exclusion, these six social entrepreneurs—five of whom are women—have drawn upon an array of technologies to design their innovative solutions,” said Sally Osberg, CEO and President, Skoll Foundation. “In tackling issues ranging from financial inclusion to clean energy to poverty alleviation, these pioneering women and men, together with their teams and partners, demonstrate the potential for lasting equilibrium change.”

Each of the six 2018 Awardees leads an organization that shows great promise of expanded impact. SELCO builds a holistic ecosystem that increases accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of renewable energy for the poor. Angaza is a for-profit venture that provides a pay-as-you-go technology platform to increase affordability of clean energy products for the world’s 1 billion off-grid customers. myAgro pioneered a mobile layaway savings model so smallholder farmers can invest in the high-quality inputs that will improve their harvest and lift them out of poverty. Code for America helps build and deploy open source technology in partnership with local governments to make their public services simple, effective, and easy to use. Global Health Corps seeds young and non-traditional talent to the field of global health with its leadership program, building a network of innovative future leaders. Callisto dismantles barriers to reporting sexual assault through its online platform, providing survivors with new options to report, and institutions with actionable data to guard against and respond to the problem.

Awardee organizations receive $1.25 million core support investments to scale their work and increase their impact. The social entrepreneurs also gain leverage through their long-term participation in a global community of visionary leaders and innovators dedicated to solving some of the biggest global challenges of our time.

Watch live as these remarkable social entrepreneurs accept their awards at the Skoll World Forum Awards Ceremony (#skollwf) on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 4:00-6:00PM (GMT+1).

Harish Hande: SELCO

SELCO has pioneered the delivery of decentralized solar energy to the poor in India. This energy access increases incomes, improves quality of life, and alleviates poverty, turning energy consumers into asset owners. SELCO sees the pressing need to develop a fertile environment to enhance sustainable energy access solutions for the poor. This includes an inclusive design process, affordable end-user financing, patient, high-risk capital, and conducive policies, as well as training and nurturing local talent as skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Last mile energy solutions have clear commercial viability, and SELCO works to develop an end-to-end, holistic energy access model focused on alleviating poverty in a sustainable manner.

SELCO is an umbrella of organizations, each tasked to address gaps in the energy access ecosystem. SELCO India runs grassroots operations which market, sell, install, and service decentralized energy products like home solar systems. SELCO Foundation is an open-source innovation research lab for replicable social innovations across areas: livelihoods, education, and health. SELCO’s incubation program nurtures and catalyzes the clean energy enterprises that deploy and maintain sustainable solutions for underserved communities. SELCO Fund is an impact fund that seeks to deploy patient capital such as equity or debt to last mile energy access enterprises. SELCO operates at every level of the system and at every point in the supply chain, to build an ecosystem that increases accessibility, affordability, and appropriate renewable energy solutions for the poor.

Lesley Marincola: ANGAZA

Angaza created an accessible, affordable, Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) financing mechanism to get solar and clean energy products into households with the greatest need, those one billion people living in extremepoverty and off the grid, without basic infrastructure, reliable energy, or efficient consumer products.Angaza’s PAYG platform enables even the smallest, most remote, last-mile distributors to offer affordable financing to their customers on an ever-expanding portfolio of life-changing products in more than 30 countries.

Angaza’s business model is powered by two tools: technology licenses that allow hardware manufacturers to embed remote-activation circuitry into their products, and cloud-based loan activation and enforcement software that help distributors use the PAYG financing approach. Angaza has charted a path for digital finance service providers to fill the market gaps that traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions leave behind in impoverished urban centers and remote rural communities. Angaza’s platform has helped 500,000 households across more than 30 countries afford solar energy products, saving consumers $50 million.

Anushka Ratnayake: MYAGRO

myAgro pioneered a mobile layaway microsavings model in West Africa to help farmers save little by little for high-quality seeds, fertilizer, tools, and training to significantly increase their harvests and income. Farmers pay for inputs and training in small increments throughout the year by purchasing prepaid scratch cards—much like the system by which they top up their minutes on a mobile phone account. After a few months of the farmer laying-away funds, myAgro delivers the fertilizer, seed, and training in time for planting season. In Mali and Senegal in 2017, myAgro’s 34,000 customers saw a 60 percent average annual income increase.

This innovative approach to microsavings gives every farmer the ability to better provide for their families and break the cycle of poverty. myAgro helps smallholder farmers with limited cash generate more income from their land while aggregating demand to stimulate the input market, incentivizing suppliers to produce sufficient quantity of high-quality fertilizers and seeds. In this way, myAgro drives significant value to the entire smallholder agricultural system.

Jennifer Pahlka: CODE FOR AMERICA

Code for America instruments government systems to uncover the impact of technology, operations, and policies on the public. Its program areas are threefold: health, criminal justice, and workforce development. Its process is user-centered, iterative, and data-driven. First, Code for America helps users navigate the systems; then it works with governments to improve those systems and get better outcomes for both users and taxpayers. Code for America will help more than 500,000 people in need with more effective government services in more than 70 cities, states, and counties in 2018.

Code for America has built multiple pathways to scale. It builds easy-to-use, open source digital services that improve government program delivery, then uses data gleaned from these services to work with government partners to fix operations. Code for America promotes policy change that actually works by centering it in real-world data. It builds bridges for government leaders to share best practices via a nation-wide civic tech movement, with thousands of volunteers in 64 active chapters, called Brigades, which work with local governments to engage the community and improve services.

Barbara Pierce Bush: GLOBAL HEALTH CORP

Global Health Corps (GHC) strives to strengthen and transform health systems through a network of emerging leaders who take a systems approach to inspecting and disrupting the status quo. GHC recruits diverse young professionals and places them into existing health organizations and government agencies in East and Southern Africa and the United States to address current capacity gaps. Nearly 900 fellows have completed the program at more than 100 health organizations and government ministries.After a fellowship year, 95 percent of GHC alumni continue to work in global health or related fields, and 83 percent of alumni hold mid- or senior-level positions.

GHC’s unique ‘co-fellow’ model pairs a national and an international fellow to promote cross-cultural collaboration and ensure inclusion of diverse perspectives and approaches. The GHC model cultivates non-traditional talent in the field of global health and builds a close-knit network of more systemsminded, cross-culturally competent, and resilient leaders for the future.


Callisto dismantles barriers to reporting sexual assault through its online platform, providing survivors with information and new options to document and report their experience. At the same time, it gives institutions actionable data to guard against and respond to the problem, while preventing future abuse. On Callisto’s platform, survivors are five times more likely to report and do so three times faster than the national average.

Survivors are offered several ways to report assault and harassment: (1) they can securely save a timestamped written record of what happened, preserving evidence while deciding what to do next, (2) they can report directly to authorities to start an investigation, or (3) they can save the record to report automatically if the same assailant is named by another survivor.

Callisto currently serves 13 campuses with a total of 149,000 students. Callisto is building a new system that could support any victim of sexual assault or professional sexual coercion and track any serial perpetrator. Victims of serial offenders will be safely connected to each other and legal support. Callisto brings tangible short-term results, and builds a foundation for a sustained cultural shift.

About the Skoll Foundation

Jeff Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. Led by CEO Sally Osberg since 2001, our mission is to drive large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By investing, connecting, and amplifying the people and programs already bringing positive change around the world, we empower them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and fundamentally improve society.

View short videos about the Awardees here.

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