Could the toughest times inspire the greatest solutions?
Highlights from EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2020
For the first time in the 20-year history of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year, we opened the celebration to the world — and the world was watching. More than 2.5 million viewers joined the celebration to learn how the 46 award winners from 41 countries and territories are rising up to face today’s challenges in remarkable ways.
That spirit of determination is truly embodied by Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 Award winner. As the Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited in India, Mazumdar-Shaw has leveraged science for the betterment of society, and she shows no sign of stopping.
“I’m the eternal entrepreneur, and I just feel there’s so much to be done,” Mazumdar-Shaw says. “I need to make every moment of my time useful.”
How entrepreneurs are fighting a pandemic
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs can change the world and help reframe the future. But they’re facing a steep learning curve amidst a global pandemic. According to Brad Keywell, CEO of Uptake Technologies and the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019, “This world that we’re in is a siren call for entrepreneurs to step forward and do what we do — define, create, inspire, instigate, disrupt — to frame a future that moves toward ‘better.’”
Mazumdar-Shaw is at the forefront of answering this call, supporting new coronavirus tests, antibody research and vaccine startups. “We’re really trying to play across the board,” she says. But other members of the Class of 2020 are also looking for new ways to help people. In Japan, biotech firm PeptiDream and its founder, Dr. Hiroaki Suga, along with Executive Chairman Kiichi Kubota, are working to aid the development of therapeutic peptides for COVID-19 treatment. And Estonia-based firm Veriff is making sure we stay protected as our lives move online. Founded by Kaarel Kotkas, Veriff has also organized a free online emergency growth accelerator to help startups navigate the challenges of COVID-19.
Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of cutting-edge 3D printing technology firm Carbon, is also helping in the battle against COVID-19. He is working with manufacturers to pivot their production lines to produce face shields and testing swabs, with the potential to deliver 1 million swabs per week. “It feels really satisfying to help out,” DeSimone says. “Being able to print objects quickly really lends itself to a situation like coronavirus, health care and testing particularly.”
How sustainability helps businesses grow
Members of the Class of 2020 are on a mission to build a business with purpose, with many focused on nurturing a circular economy. Sustainability is key to this vision, and it’s a prominent aspect of Vestre’s outdoor furniture business. CEO Jan Christian Vestre, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Norway, is creating life-long products that minimize any impact on the environment and contribute to communal spaces for the public to enjoy. Vestre’s manufacturing facilities operate on 100% renewable energy, and the company is close to producing zero emissions throughout its entire manufacturing process.
In Southern Africa, leading poultry producer Irvine’s Group provides sustainable business opportunities to other entrepreneurs, most of whom are women. The company provides feed and day-old chicks to over 60,000 small-scale farmers who grow the chicks to a marketable weight and then sell them. “Everything we do is aimed at changing lives in Africa by producing affordable protein and growing businesses,” says Irvine’s Group CEO Craig Irvine.
How leaders are making a global impact
Driving growth and making a difference on a global scale is a common thread among the Class of 2020. In Turkey, BAU Global puts education first with a mission to raise global citizens who are committed to each other and the world around them. The company runs 300 schools and 6 universities, and it provides education to more than 200,000 students from 126 countries. “I created a market for lifelong education within one global institution, from kindergarten to the doctoral level and beyond, where there was none,” says Enver Yücel, Chair of BAU Global.
Motorica in Russia has designed cutting-edge, multifunctional upper-limb prostheses for over 1,000 users in Russia and around the world. Co-Owner and General Director Ilya Chekh has revolutionized the sector and transformed people’s lives by constantly pushing the boundaries of technology. He says his customers are proud of being among the first people on the planet to use both biological and technological limbs at the same time: “They are like cyborgs in a way.”
Technological advances are common among the Class of 2020, and they are always thinking of its impact. “Technology should always serve us to make our lives easier, whether at work or at home,” says Dr. Simon Haddadin, CEO of Franka Emika and an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Germany Award winner. Haddadin disrupted the robotics industry by building robots that are user-friendly and cost-efficient, taking them from a niche market to the masses. His Panda robotic arm is inspired by human agility and the sense of touch.
How social responsibility combines profit with purpose
Mindful entrepreneurs lead their businesses in a way that helps their communities. In the United Kingdom, Recycling Lives combines a profitable waste management company with charitable work. The company runs programs for offenders in 12 prisons across the country, empowering 250 men and women at a time as they work and learn new skills. “I believe that if businesses and their clients start to look at social value as a currency, then we will all become proactive in implementing real change in the world, ” says Founder Steven Jackson OBE DL.
Empowerment is also important to Dr. Cosmas Maduka, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year West Africa. As President and CEO of Coscharis Group in Nigera, he is keen to encourage young people. “It’s in our mission statement to plow back resources into our local communities. We are creating a level playing field for anyone to be the best they can be,” says Maduka, who facilitates youth empowerment seminars and mentors university students.
The views of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily the views of the global EY organization or its member firms. Moreover, they should be seen in the context of the time they were made.