Rolex has hand-picked five young men and women from around the world as “Young Laureates,” pioneers that the watch brand believes are poised to change the world.
The five visionaries, all under the age of 30 and hailing from Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States, were chosen from a pool of nearly 200 candidates worldwide in the inaugural Young Laureates Programme, an expansion of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
An international panel of judges selected the winners based on their passion and conviction to overcome challenges in the areas of health and science, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.
The winners are: 26-year-old Jacob Colker from the United States, 25-year-old Reese Fernandez from the Philippines, 27-year-old Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu from Nigeria, 29-year-old Piyush Tewari from India and 28-year-old Bruktawit Tigabu from Ethiopia.
The projects of each of the winners are varied in scope. U.S.-based Colker runs an Internet-based program that allows volunteers to use their smart phones to donate spare minutes to charitable and scientific organizations, thereby changing the way people get involved in community service. In Asia, Tewari has set up a foundation to train a network of police officers and volunteers to respond more quickly to road accidents and administer medical care, while Fernandez’s Rags2Riches enterprise helps alleviate poverty by training people to become social entrepreneurs, empowering women to earn a living by turning scrap metals into fashion accessories. In Africa, Ikegwuonu intends to boost the living standards of millions of Nigerian farmers through an interactive, mobile radio network that provides for the exchange of information on sustainable farming practices and health issues, and Tigabu is building on the success of a television program on health that she and her husband are producing for preschool children and their parents.
“Rolex is delighted to support these exceptional young men and women who represent the best of their generation,” Rebecca Irvin, director of philanthropy at Rolex, said in a media release. “In tackling the problems that face humanity, they do not think in traditional ways or stick to old ideas. Their innovative projects have begun to have a profound effect on their own communities, and potentially could improve the lives of millions of people.”
In addition to the designation as Young Laureates, the winners will receive $50,000 over the course of two years. A total $25,000 will be given to each recipient during the first year, helping them to focus on their pioneering projects, while the balance of the funding will be distributed the second year, helping to propel the award winners forward in implementing their projects.
Rolex will mark the Young Laureates accomplishments at an event on Nov. 10, 2010, at the recently launched Rolex Learning Center, a hub for educational exchange at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.