Supporting a Vision for Everyone to See
This past weekend, I had the great pleasure and privilege of being one of five judges to determine the 2014 Gifted Citizen Prize winner at La Ciudad de las Ideas in Puebla, Mexico. As I boarded the plane, I knew I was in for a big event, but I never could have predicted the true scale of this program or the quality and caliber of the people I would meet during my time there.
Cuidad de Las Ideas (CDI) is a 3-day “festival of brilliant minds” produced by Poder Civico which featured everyone from scientists to artists to human rights leaders to government officials and beyond. Three years ago, they began the Gifted Citizen Prize to amplify and honor the work that social entrepreneurs are doing around the world. Any person from any corner of the world who can demonstrate that they will have an impact on 10 million people within six years can apply. This year, 33 finalists were selected to attend CDI, with one of them winning the grand prize of US $100,000. Many of the 33 finalists have received global recognition and included TED Fellows, Ashoka Fellows, and Hult Prize Winners. Needless to say, I was living and learning with an inspiring group of people over the 3 full days we were together.
I was in great company on this event, sharing my judging duties with the CFO of Comex; Adam Lent, Director of the RSA’s Action Research Centre; Andrés Roemer, Consul General of Mexico in San Francisco, Poder Cívico A.C. President, and Curator of La Ciudad de las Ideas; and Salim Ismail, Global Ambassador and Founding Executive Director of Singularity University. It was a huge challenge to narrow down our decision to even five finalists, much less to choose just one winner.
The winner of the 2014 Gifted Citizen Prize blew us away with the simple brilliance of his innovation as well as the scope of its application and impact. Dr. Andrew Bastawrous of Peek Vision is working to expand access to high quality eye care by turning a smartphone into a comprehensive eye exam tool. Tested for over two years in rural villages throughout Kenya, their smartphone app and technology provides high resolution retinal images, thereby empowering anyone who can use a smartphone with the tools to help tackle avoidable blindness. The $100,000 will propel Peek into stage 2 of their business plan as they bring this technology throughout Kenya and ultimately the world.
In the coming months, I will be profiling each of the Gifted Citizens and sharing how they are creating change throughout the world. Many of them will be getting more engaged with Babson, so stay tuned for more opportunities to engage with and learn from this community of amazing social entrepreneurs.