The Hero Award

   The Hero Award is conferred   upon individuals and groups who have achieved great things on behalf of the UN's 17 Agenda for Sustainability Goals.  It was co-founded by Robaba Mohammadi, an artist from Afghanistan who, because of a birth defect, has no use of her arms and legs, and so paints with her mouth.  Anyone in the world is eligible to win a Hero Award, as long as their accomplishment is truly ground-breaking and long-lasting in effect.

      2023  Hero Award Recipients

At 28 years old, Rita Kimani of Kenya is the co-founder of FarmDrive, a social enterprise that connects unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to credit. To date, FarmDrive works with over 3,000 farmers and is dedicated to financial inclusion.

“I grew up in rural Kenya where the people are dependent on farming. My mom was fending for a family of four, and I witnessed other families struggle to support themselves through agriculture, in part because there was a lack of financial inclusion.” Despite these challenges, the 28-year-old computer scientist has seen how sustainable agriculture can be a vehicle for inclusive economic growth and resolved to use her experiences to find solutions.  

. Using mobile technology, FarmDrive’s platform enables farmers to track their productivity, expenses and revenues to create comprehensive credit portfolios enabling access to affordable financial services, as they are needed. As it stands, 3000 farmers are registered, and loans have been facilitated to 400 farmers. 

Lutfi Fadil Lokman is a 31-year-old from Malaysia who founded and acts as the CEO of Hospitals Beyond Boundaries (HBB), a youth-led organization with a mission to build healthcare facilities serving underprivileged communities. HBB has trained and served more than 3,000 people in Malaysia and Cambodia.

After an accident that left him hospitalized, Lutfi decided to start doing what he had long dreamed of: the 31-year-old medical doctor founded Hospitals Beyond Boundaries, an organization committed to accessible health care through community-run clinics in Cambodia and Malaysia. “I am most proud of our clinic in Cambodia because we focus specifically on maternal and child health,” says Lutfi. 

The healthcare facilities are uniquely run as social enterprises by the local youth population, trained and then employed as community health workers alongside doctors, nurses and health professionals. Since its establishment, Hospitals Beyond Boundaries has trained and served more than 3,000 people. “We believe that empowerment of the community, rather than charity, is the key to sustainability. We work with local NGOs, the Ministry of Health and local leaders to ensure that we make as much impact as possible.” Other than working directly with Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being), the clinic and hospital look at healthcare that lies beyond the hospital boundaries.

Carolina Medina is a 28-year-old from Colombia. Her passion is to make healthy food more affordable and accessible for everyone. Carolina co-founded and leads Agruppa, a start-up based in her country that leverages mobile phone technology to organize small businesses.

“I want to contribute to making my country more equitable for everyone,” a conviction which has led Carolina to co-found Agruppa, a start-up that utilizes mobile phones to economically empower small businesses and lower prices for fresh produce. Agruppa organizes small businesses into clusters, creating collective buying power so that they can benefit from economies of scale when ordering stock.  This allows vendors to purchase fresher produce at better prices, saving money which can be passed on to the customer.  


26-year-old Vincent Loka of Indonesia is one of the three founding partners of WateROAM, a social enterprise developing water filtration solutions that bring rapid access to clean drinking water in disaster-hit locations.  One such solution is Fieldtrade Lite, a product that fits easily into a backpack and can filter dirty river water within minutes.

“We are committed to bringing clean water to people everywhere,”  says Vincent, which is why he and two co-founders, all in their early twenties, launched WateROAM— a water innovation enterprise championing the vision of a world without prolonged thirst. WateROAM is developing water filtration solutions that bring about the quickest access to clean drinking water at disaster-hit locations, and helping to promote social change in rural areas. “I lead the engineering team to develop filtration systems that are simple, affordable, durable and portable,” says Vincent. “We realized that these four pillars are critical when it comes to getting water solutions to the people on the ground.” One of these solutions, otherwise known as Fieldtrade Lite, fits easily into a backpack and can filter dirty river water within minutes.


Shougat Nazbin Khan, a 27-year-old from Bangladesh, established H. A. Digital School & College, now serving 600 students from 50 underprivileged communities in Bangladesh with a focus on socio-economic empowerment of women.

  The school has developed curricula that are responsive to rural realities and gender, including ICT and entrepreneurship training, health and environment training, adult literacy and services to end violence.

Now in its second academic year, more than 600 students from 50 villages are studying at the school, while 90% of the teaching staff are women. In addition to her work at the crossroads of women’s empowerment and access to a decent education, Shougat developed a low-cost solar PV irrigation system for farmers for which she won the prestigious Green Talent award in 2015.

The newest Hero Awards are named after the initiator of the Award.  The namesake is thereafter empowered to confer the Award upon others who follow in their footsteps

1.  The Deepa Vijayaraghavan Award, for Female Entrepreneurship in South Asia   

2.  The Shevchenko Award, for developing SaaS for reconstruction startups in Ukraine  

3.  The Byatshandaa Jargal Award, for empowering family farms in Mongolia

4.  The Christina Yang Prize for using the MIT  climate simulator to predict commodity shortages in ocean-derived precious metals

5.  The Fatima Issa Prize, for promoting the use of Generative AI and forecasting tools like Metaculus to reform government ministries in Niger