Ajaita Shah of Frontier Markets and Gerald Abila of BarefootLaw honored
New York City, January 17, 2024: Echoing Green Fellows Ajaita Shah, founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, and Gerald Abila, founder BarefootLaw, received 2024 Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Awards. The announcement was made at the 2024 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos on January 16, 2024.
Shah and Abila were previously awarded Echoing Green Fellowships in 2012 and 2016 respectively, receiving capital investments and two years of leadership development support to launch their organizations. Echoing Green finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Its community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the founders of Teach For America and BlocPower, along with other Schwab Foundation awardees including Andrew Youn of One Acre Fund, Sasha Chanoff of Refuge Point, and Elizabeth Hausler of Build Change.
“The scale and impact of Ajaita and Gerald’s work shows the powerful potential of backing early-stage social entrepreneurs and giving them capital and support to develop their world-changing ideas,” said Echoing Green President and 2019 Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Thought Leader Cheryl L. Dorsey. “This honor demonstrates Echoing Green’s notable ability as a social impact talent spotter to identify and develop proximate change leaders.”
Frontier Markets has grown to become India’s premier rural social commerce platform, offering an essential last mile connection to rural households, working with and for women. With a network of 3,500 digitalized rural women entrepreneurs, Frontier Markets provides rural households with access to high quality, climate friendly, and gender inclusive products and services, including clean energy services.
Based in Uganda, BarefootLaw utilizes technology and innovative approaches to bridge the gap between people and the legal system. BarefootLaw offers legal support through various platforms, including mobile phones and the internet, making legal information more accessible to a wider audience in Uganda, and across Africa. To date, BarefootLaw has reached more than 900,000 individuals.
Dorsey added, “Echoing Green is proud to have been an early investor in Ajaita and Frontier Markets and Gerald and BareFoot Law. This impressive recognition from the Schwab Foundation will allow them to grow and share their brilliant, scalable models.”
For 25 years, the Schwab Foundation has provided a global platform to accelerate outstanding models of social innovation. Each year, through a rigorous selection process, the Schwab Foundation reviews nominations for the annual Social Innovation Awards, highlighting exceptional Social Innovators for their collective efforts in creating a just, equitable and sustainable world for all.
This year’s nominations were made in four categories: Social Entrepreneurs, Public Social Innovators, Corporate Social Innovators, and Collective Social Innovators. Those in the Social Entrepreneurs of the Year category employ innovative, market-based approaches to directly address social issues.
The 2024 awardees join an existing community of 477 champions whose collective work has improved the lives of 891 million people since 1998. The Schwab Foundation Awards bring significant benefits to social innovators by increasing the visibility of their work, making them part of a powerful peer community of social change leaders, and integrating them into the networking structure of the World Economic Forum, including exposure to global decision makers.
About Echoing Green:
For 36 years, Echoing Green has been on the front lines of solving the world’s biggest problems, raising up the transformational leaders willing to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. The organization finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Echoing Green’s community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the founders of Teach For America, Center for Black Innovation, BlocPower, and One Acre Fund. Built and refined over three decades, Echoing Green discovers tomorrow’s leaders today, and then funds, connects, and supports a new generation of social impact leaders.