April 23, 2012

Meet the 2012 Zeitgeist YoungMinds Winners

The 10 winners have been announced for the ‘Zeitgeist Young Minds’, an online competition to find exceptional, motivated and inspiring 18 – 24 year-olds from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa*, who are making a positive impact in the world through science, the arts, education and innovation.

Each winner will be invited to participate in Google’s annual Zeitgeist event in London on May 21 and 22 alongside some of the greatest minds and innovators of today. With nearly one hundred entries to choose from, a panel of judges including UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox and Channel 4 news presenter and correspondent Jon Snow, whittled down the entries based on creativity, innovation, reach, impact and response to social need.

Akala said: “It was a pleasure to be involved in judging the ZYM competition and to see so many brilliant young thinkers actively taking a role in positive change all over the world. Particularly close to my heart were projects involving education, my hat goes off to all the entrants and especially the winners. It’s inspiring to see young people use their talents to help others and serve their respective communities.”

The winning ideas reflect the youth empowerment and social entrepreneurial spirit amongst today’s young people as demonstrated by James Boon, 23 from Bath, UK . He recently launched a socially-responsible enterprise called ‘Elephant Branded’, which sends a school bag to a child in Asia and Africa for each product sold on his website.James Boon said: “Young Minds is a fantastic medium to be able to showcase what young people can and are doing all over the world to change lives today. I can’t wait to attend the event and meet the other young entrepreneurs and inspirational thinkers.”

Ada Umeofia image

Ada Umeofia

On each trip to the bustling local market, Adamma Umeofia saw a powerful opportunity: grimy market stalls sold the best local produce, but created a shopping experience that left much to be desired. With a better designed market stall, she thought, everyone could win: shoppers would enjoy the experience, and traders would sell more of their products.
Adamma thus founded WeBuilt: Africa, a social enterprise that sits at the intersection of her passion for Africa, design, and architecture. WeBuilt: Africa seeks to design and rebuild market stalls by recycling found building materials. Ada’s designs have the potential to revolutionize the marketplace experience for sellers and buyers alike.
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Alex Leboucher

Alex is a 21 year old International Relations and Law Student in France and Ambassador for One Young World. It doesn’t end there though. His motto has always been “that you can’t lead a decent life without a good education” and that’s why The Schoolbag was an obviousness.
The Schoolbag is an international organization which connects young people to education and a sustainable future by providing eco-sustainable school supplies to young people in need. For the 2011 school year, The Schoolbag provided educational resource kits to over 14,000 students in Haiti, each with enough supplies for one year of study.
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Elliott Verreault

An entrepreneur from the age of 16 and driven achiever at heart, Elliott loves materializing ideas into dynamic and usable forms.
With a strong entrepreneurial background in both the manufacturing and marketing consulting sectors, he currently serves as CEO of It’sOneHumanity: The Humanitarian Social Network, an online community that spans across 175 countries worldwide.
While currently reading his master’s in Peace and Development in Sweden, Elliott has experience working in international development in both East Africa and South Asia. He has also published research on virtual teams and multicultural management training. Elliott speaks French, English and Japanese.
James Boon image

James Boon

Elephant Branded was set up by James after working and traveling in Africa and Asia. Shocked by the basic lack of School equipment he now send school kits to children in Africa and Asia.
One for One .. for every Elephant Branded Bag purchased we donate a School Bag to a child in Africa/Asia.. sales of our Elephant Branded wallets and purses allow us to donate stationary and notebooks to add to our School Bags, creating full school kits.
Elephant Branded bags are hand made by local people out of recycled materials promoting local enterprise out of poverty!
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Joel Mwale

Joel’s Skydrop Enterprise has brought safe drinking water to a community of 5,000 and also allowed him to create a profitable enterprise selling bottled water across Kenya and into Uganda.
Joel was recently selected as the recipient of the Inaugural annual Anzisha Prize; Africa’s Award for young entrepreneur and is now studying leadership and entrepreneurship at the African Leadership Academy before joining college late next year.
His story begun in 2007: at the age of 14 when he established a borehole for his community and later on built a business enterprise along the same line. His company, Skydrop Enterprise purifies water and channels in to the public at half the normal market price hence providing not only profits to sustain Joel and his family but also provide employment opportunities to many people.
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Jordan Ridge

Jordan Ridge is a 23-year old missionary and social entrepreneur living in South Africa.
As Founder and Manager of Made by Mosaic, a business started to create jobs in a South African township and to financially support a non-profit organization called Mosaic Community Developments, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the business and manages employees in South Africa and the United States.
Jordan has a degree in International Business (Finance) from Elizabethtown College, and believes that business can solve many of the world’s problems, if done properly! Learn more by following her blog or visiting
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Maaike Veenkamp

With increasing cuts to youth services in the local community and the lack of engagement with young people, Maaike was inspired to make a change. Her response was helping the establishment of ‘Off The Bench’ whose core aim and mission is to ‘Empower young people through positive activities.’ 

Through Maaike’s hard work and endeavour, a number of initiatives have been put in place to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime. This has included the securement of funding for a £43,000 youth engagement venue, the development of several youth clubs, the establishment of a volunteering programme, and work with disabled young people.
Sibusiso Tshabalala image

Sibusiso Tshabalala

Can young people become active participants in public discourse? Can young people promote literacy in illiterate communities?
The Afrika Kusoma Literacy Initiative aims to find solutions to these troubling issues. With a strong focus on enabling young people to become critical of their society through debating and public speaking- this programme has enabled school-going learners with the tools to participate in public discourse.
High levels of illiteracy also impact the educational performance of many poor South Africans. With the establishment of reading clubs, The Afrika Initiative has inculcated a reading culture in poor communities.
Youth is not wasted on the young!
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Simeon Oriko

Simeon Oriko, a self-confessed digital native, is passionate about using digital technology to respond to real world challenges and opportunities, to effect social change and to achieve personal objectives.
As a result, he founded The Kuyu Project, a digital literacy initiative aimed at teaching African high school students the value of digital technology and the opportunities it accords them. He currently serves as the Executive Director.
Simeon is also the co-founder of StorySpaces, a digital storytelling platform in which he serves in the capacity of Innovation & Strategy Lead. He also serves as the Tech and Community Lead at iHub.
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Simon Straetker

Simon is 18 years old and is actively involved in ongoing environmental projects. He educates kids about nature, taking them out to discover the beauty of our environment and together involve them in several conservational projects.
“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.” (Pearl S. Buck)

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