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The evolution of society and business

WALKER MARSH Using flower power to create positive change in Baltimore

46 ideas for a

Better Tomorrow Meet the social changemakers and become one yourself



Editor's letter Join the revolution

Writer Michelle Antoinette Nelson caught up with Walker Marsh at his community farm in east Baltimore

By featuring these sustainable projects, our main aim is to inspire you and get you motivated. If you’ve ever had the urge to start a project with a social impact, read Sam Conniff Allende’s five-step programme on how to become a modern-day pirate (page 10), or pick up some practical advice on how to get your venture off the ground from six outstanding social entrepreneurs under 26 (page 58). Mihir Garimella is one of them. 04

“It’s very easy to go about our lives passively, thinking that things are relatively good,” says the 18-year-old, who creates tiny, low-cost drones that carry out missions in dangerous and toxic zones. “But it’s more impactful if you understand that the world is as good as it is today because people in the past have identified problems and worked hard to solve them.”

Isabel de Barros has worked for magazines such as GQ Brazil and Daslu for most of her working life. She has a particular interest in social innovation and enjoyed her interview with São Paulobased start-up Pluvi.On. “What impressed me is that, in order to achieve their goal, they have created a whole new system,” she says. “A challenge most people would shy away from but not them.”

Ruth Morgan is the editor of the UK edition of The Red Bulletin magazine. For this magazine, she did a shift at Refettorio Felix, a community kitchen in London, run by master chef Massimo Bottura. He turns food waste into three-course meals. “It was an eye-opening experience. He and his team are tackling several urgent problems but having fun, too,” she says. “And, needless to say, the food was delicious.”

Enjoy the issue. INNOVATOR


blooming businesses. Like our cover star, Walker Marsh, who turned waste ground in his home town of Baltimore into a community garden, growing plants and helping local young people at the same time (page 26). We travelled to the dry mountain deserts of the Himalayas where a local engineer creates ice towers to provide people with water throughout the year (page 14). In São Paulo, Brazil, we met a group of activists who tackle the problem of floods and landslides with a simple device that looks like a toy (page 86).


Watching the news can be a grim affair these days. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the issues and crises the world is currently dealing with, while we’re rarely presented with solutions. The Red Bulletin Innovator’s Social Issue is aiming to act as a counterbalance. Over the last few months, we’ve met up with innovators, trailblazers and entrepreneurs from all over the world who, instead of waiting for better days, are using their talent and passion to make a positive change in their corner of the planet – and are turning their grassroots projects into




Our most powerful headphones yet.



Stories Sam Conniff Allende is a pirate ... Page 10

…and you should be one, too. Read the award-winning social innovator’s five-step manual on how to take on the world and win

Why social innovation now? Page 22

In her essay, Red Bull Amaphiko global editor Emma Warren explains why social innovation is the future of business

Unleash your nastiness Page 08

This T-shirt became the symbol of the feminist movement. Now, its creator Amanda Brinkman has designed a card game for nasty women

Even better than the real thing Page 32

Samantha Payne, co-founder of the start-up Open Bionics, aims to create affordable prosthetics with superhuman functions

Take a sip Page 34

You want to create positive change while you're travelling? Pack surf-pro Jon Rose’s water filter that supplies clean drinking water for thousands of people. Here’s his story …

Man-made glaciers Page 14

Find out about the Himalayan ice towers that provide thousands of locals with drinking water

Turning smog into jewellery Page 38

Dutch eco artist Daan Roosegaarde presents his newest invention: a futuristic tower that cleans the air and creates black diamonds

Page 42

Zero-waste shops are on the rise: visit London’s first plastic-free shop, where customers bring their own containers and buy locally sourced products

Survival of the fittest Page 50

A south London street gym is defying authority and gang culture by strengthening the local community. And it has created a worldwide buzz with its new form of calisthenics




Bring your own bag


6 under 26 Page 58

They’re young, creative and dedicated to making the world a better place: six social entrepreneurs explain how they have turned their ideas into thriving businesses

Helping plants and people grow Page 26

The story about a man who has turned east Baltimore into a flourishing neighbourhood with his community garden

Making waste notable Page 66

Turning her hobby into one of Brazil’s most innovative eco craft businesses, Ariane Santos creates notebooks out of fabric offcuts and helps support mothers of autistic children

How to change the world with a crazy idea Page 68

Two brothers paddled down the world’s most polluted river in plastic bottle kayaks. Their campaign got Indonesia’s president listening

Food for the soul Page 72

At his community kitchens all around the world, master chef Massimo Bottura turns food waste into nutritious meals for society’s most vulnerable members

How valuable is your waste? Page 44

British start-up Pentatonic is turning the the furniture industry upside down by inventing products that can be recycled infinitely

Spotlight on South Africa Page 78

Meet eight of the country’s most exciting social entrepreneurs who create positive change: from a nut-shell based water filter to an app that revolutionises the school system

No ark needed Page 86

Read about a start-up that tackles the problem of floods in its home town of São Paulo with a simple, yet genius device


Page 93

You want to make a difference? We have some kit for you including sustainable products, inspiring podcasts and apps that help you make better purchasing decisions

Editor’s letter Join the revolution Page 04 Column Want to change the world? Start by changing yourself first Page 96 Global team Page 97 Last page The Kung Fu nuns of Nepal Page 98 INNOVATOR




Saying it loud and proud: fellow arts worker Marian Sheppard wears one of Amanda’s designs


Unleash your nastiness Turning a T-shirt campaign into a feminist movement, Amanda Brinkman has gained a legion of fans such as pop star Katy Perry. Now she’s back, with a card game that celebrates powerful women


It was a news item on TV that changed Amanda Brinkman’s life forever. Watching the third presidential debate in October 2016, she heard Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton a ‘nasty woman’. Appalled by the phrase, she decided to subvert it by printing it onto a T-shirt, superimposed on a red heart. She then posted it on Instagram, hoping to sell four or five. Instead, her T-shirts went viral, with 10,000 orders in the first few days and support from celebrities such as Katy Perry and Will

Ferrell. “It was incredible,” Amanda says. “People were even asking me to print the ‘nasty woman’ logo on baby clothes. I could have cashed in, but I instinctively decided against it.” Instead, she donated 50 per cent of her profits to initiatives such as Planned Parenthood, and used the Nasty Woman momentum to start an online platform, Shrill Society, where she sells clothes designed by fellow feminist designers, using sustainable materials and ethical working practices. INNOVATOR

I N N O V AT O R SPREAD THE WORD Amanda now produces a range of products on her online platform Shrill Society, with profits going to help charities





“What helped me in the early stages of creating the card game were conversations I had at the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy [in Baltimore 2017], meeting people who I otherwise would never have encountered” For her next project, Amanda changes the medium, but stays on message. Her card game, The Nasty Woman Game, aims to playfully educate its players on feminism. “People were like, ‘why don’t you make a video game or an app?’” she says. “But I wanted people to put down their phones, sit around a table and start a conversation.” The goal of the game is to collect Nasty Woman cards. They are dedicated to strong female role models, from Beyoncé to Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem, and protect you from so-called Attack cards, like the Mansplainer. The most interactive elements of the game are the Statement cards, which demand the players’ creativity. “They include half a statement, such as, ‘A catcaller told you to smile, so you told him to …,’” Amanda explains. “Then everybody shouts out their response and the most hilarious answer wins a Nasty Woman card.” The last player standing wins the game – and takes the title of, in Amanda’s words, the nastiest feminist of them all.

“To hear an Olympic athlete talk about their motivational force was really meaningful; we work on radically different things but share common ground”

PROTEST IN PRINT In the wake of the 2016 US presidential elections, Amanda’s Nasty Woman T-shirt became a symbol of feminism

TRUMP CARD The latest project is the Nasty Woman card game, taking her feminist message in a new direction

Buy the Nasty Woman Game from July onwards at INNOVATOR





This Man is a Pirate… … and he tells you why you need to be one, too. Here, British award-winning serial social entrepreneur and author Sam Conniff Allende presents his five-step manual on how to take on the world and win WORDS BY SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICHIE HOPSON

You’ve probably noticed that the world is desperately short of imaginative leadership right now. If you’re planning on doing something about that, allow me to introduce you to a perhaps surprising source of inspiration – pirates. If you’re thinking Long John Silver, I’d like to invite you to think again. The original eighteenth-century pirates were pioneers of innovative social thinking, rebels who passionately believed in their cause. And their cause was not so much death or glory as riches, freedom and 10

justice for all. Their true story was suppressed by the Establishment they challenged but the reality is that 300 years ago, a group of young professionals took on a broken system and a selfinterested elite because they were convinced there must be a better, fairer way of life… sounds familiar? In my new book, Be More Pirate, I’ve pulled together their strategies and assembled them into a five-step programme for you to create progressive change. Whether you want to start a new social enterprise, shake up your organisation or simply tweak the way your business operates, being more pirate can give you the edge over the competition.

1. Rebel

The original pirates’ act of rebellion was to mutiny against the navy they had sworn an oath to and begin to plunder for themselves rather than the crown. That instantly made them the bad guys according to their old bosses but it also freed them from a life of poor pay and rubbish workplace conditions. And, crucially, it freed them up to do things differently. One of my favourite modern-day pirates is Malala, whose act of rebellion in writing a blog about why she and other girls should be able to go to school has turned her into a legend of our lifetime. If you’re thinking that both those examples sound a little daunting, don’t worry. Your rebellion might be a big act but it could also be a small step. The challenge here is to pick a stupid rule or convention and then break it, defy it or laugh at it. It can’t be too easy, though. It’s got to make you feel a little uncomfortable. But so long as you keep going, building on your initial act of rebellion, you’ll get a taste for it. You’ll generate confidence and begin to learn

How to break the rules In his new book, Sam Conniff Allende takes Steve Job’s famous quote, ‘I’d rather be a pirate than join the navy’, and unveils the visionary ideas of the Golden Age pirates (1660-1726) who are often mistakenly referred to as uneducated bandits. He draws parallels between them and modern rebels like Elon Musk and shows what we can learn from their strategies



CHIEF INNOVATOR Sam co-founded the youth-led creative network Livity, back in 2001. He has succesfully connected young people with major brands, and he also speaks at industryleading companies

about creating change the best way of all: by doing it. Nothing will happen until you take this first step so go on, be brave. And enjoy it.

2. Rewrite

Next up is rewriting the rules, and it’s this that distinguishes pirates from other troublemakers. Breaking rules is (relatively) easy. It’s coming up with new ones that makes you a pirate. The original pirates didn’t just want to tear down the old order, they wanted to create something better. It blows my mind that more than 170 years before any ‘commoners’ got the vote in Great Britain, for example, pirate crews were completely democratic institutions, run on the basis of one member, one vote. That ability to insist on doing things differently is happening today wherever you see a stand-out success story. Look at Chance the Rapper, whose single-minded vision made him the first artist to win a Grammy for a streamingonly album. That rule you just broke in the first stage? Write yourself a new one. You don’t need to think practically about how to implement it. Just aim for a clear statement of how things will be different on your ship from the way they were on the old one.

3. Reorganise

The pirates knew that success would require outperforming their rivals, not outgrowing them. A pirate ship could be crewed by as few as thirty people but when INNOVATOR



SOCIAL there was a bigger battle to be fought, the pirate captains formed a fleet. They then crewed down again once the mission had been accomplished. This principle of agility might feel familiar to us but it was no mean feat in the age of lumbering hierarchical organisations. Today, having the right team around you can overcome even the greatest odds. Online campaigning group Avaaz, for example, connects small groups of expert people working on issues all over the world and plugs them into massive people power via its online networks. So ask yourself, who would you pick a fight with if size was no object? Whether you’re trying to figure out how to tackle unfairness at work or start a community movement, don’t tell yourself you’re too small, ask yourself what the nimble gesture would be.

4. Redistribute

There are many alt-disruptors who might look like at first glance like pirates but what defines the real ones is that they make an enemy of exploitation. The original pirates designed processes that forced fairness. For example, all pirates would receive a fair share of the plunder. Certain crew members, like the captain, would receive more than

MAKING YOUR MARK Observing a world of dramatic change and uncertainty, Sam is passionate about providing new, workable solutions for young people

others, but only by a factor of three. Pretty good compared to the obscene differences we’re used to seeing between the pay of a CEO and the office cleaner. So take a look at some of the social enterprises that stipulate how profit will be shared by staff and ploughed back into the business. What three values are you willing to fight for, run a risk for, lose your job for? Only by answering honestly and putting in place strategies to ensure those values are protected, will your change be durable. 12

5. Retell

Pirates didn’t just tell stories, they creatively weaponised the art of storytelling. They told fierce tales about themselves to their enemies, not their friends, so that others would tell them again and again. Our world is full of genius pirate storytellers. One of my personal favourites is the artist Banksy, who upped the stakes by taking his political satire from London to Palestine in the name of calling out injustice with his trademark humour. If you want to make big change, you can’t just talk to the people who already get it. Yes, of course you need a great story idea but you also need to walk it into the lion’s den. Think about how to reach people who won’t like what you do but who need to hear it if you’re going to hit the big time. Lastly, I want to tell you a bit more about the Pirate Code, the

killer app that allowed pirates to operate as an agile network, 300 years before those buzzwords were invented. It was part record of their remarkable innovations, part manifesto of principles to live by (or if you broke the code, to die by). After the Golden Age of Piracy was wiped under the carpet of history, the pirate code eventually resurfaced in a slightly different form, as the Founding Principles of the Cooperative Movement. So if you are a social entrepreneur, innovator or a mission-led business, then this message of piracy creating change isn’t just a metaphor for you. You are distantly descended from pirates, the original social innovators. I believe it’s time for all of us who dream of creating positive change to claim that heritage as our own. It’s time to be more pirate. You can order the book at INNOVATOR

Manmade glaciers





In the bare and inhospitable landscape, ice stupas are a symbol of progress for local communities

In the Himalayan mountain desert, a local engineer creates ice structures to ensure that villagers have drinking water all year round. Simant Verma volunteered at the Ice Stupa Project last winter and gives a first-hand account of his adventure






he taxi turned towards Phyang – a small village in the Ladakh mountain desert on the Tibetan plateau with nothing but barren desert on either side. In front of me lay miles of broken road and snow-clad towers jutting from the ground like a scene from another planet. A few minutes into the ride, a tall white cone of ice sitting at the base of a hill some 500 metres away caught my attention. I could see tiny black dots moving around at its summit and, as I got closer, I realised those specks were people. Minutes later, I got out of the taxi, only to stare in awe at the 24-metre tall structure of ice, or ice stupa as it is famously known, right in front of me. I had to squint against the reflection of the ice’s bright white surface. To my side was a small building with a slanted plastic sheet for a roof, a solar heated house which was to be my temporary home. I wondered where I would find Surya, who had invited me on this project. “Hey, I am here,” a voice yelled out. I looked around before spotting him calling me from the ice stupa.

“Three years previously, I’d been climbing with friends in Ladakh, we’d walked knee-deep through snow”



This was not my first visit to Ladakh. Three years previously, I’d been climbing with friends and we’d reached the summit of Golep Kangri in the Himalayas. Although the expedition, which saw us walking knee-deep through snow for hours was nerve-wracking, it helped me to form a strong connection with the region. I hoped to come back. The following year, my friends repeated the same expedition and found the INNOVATOR

The mountain desert of Ladakh has a powerful and panoramic beauty




mountain devoid of snow. This set me on a journey. I wanted to understand the impact of a warming world and what role humans play in it all. Many months later, at a work-related event, I met Surya, who was involved with the Ice Stupa Project. I knew instantly that I needed to be part of the experience. Ladakh is a mountain desert at over 3,000 metres high. With average rainfall as low as 50mm per year, civilisation in this brutally cold region has been possible only because of the water that comes from the many glaciers that surround it. In fact, locals say that the size and population of a village is dependent on the size of the glacier situated on top of it. One of the primary sources of income in Ladakh is agriculture, which lasts for only five months, given that the soil freezes in winter and temperatures are not conducive to farming. Decades ago, natural glaciers started receding – the massive change was down to developing climatic conditions. Since these glaciers had receded higher up, even when spring started, temperatures weren’t high enough to cause them to melt, leaving agricultural fields dry during crucial months. “Drang-Drung, probably the largest glacier in Ladakh, has retreated roughly 200 metres in the last five years,” Thupstan, a member of the Ice Stupa Project team recalls. A changing climate has led to an erratic water supply and frequent cloudbursts. Thus, water isn’t there when it’s needed but is available in late spring when the sowing time has passed. As agriculture has taken a down-turn, the villages are no longer an attraction for local youth, who are starting to seek employment opportunities elsewhere. “The city of Leh is exploding with the added pressure of tourism, plus all the locals are moving there, and further afield, to find employment, while our villages are imploding with only the oldest generation left behind to take care of whatever is left of our agriculture,” Sonam Wangchuk explained to me. The 51-year-old local with silver hair and an infectious smile is a mechanical engineer by trade. In 2013, he invented and built 18



the very first ice stupa here in Ladakh – and in doing so, changed the life of thousands in his community. The first person to address the problem of retreating glaciers was Chewang Norphel in the late 20th century. He constructed a wide, sloping diversion canal through a narrow stream and built check dams on it to reduce the flow of water and form a thin layer of ice in winter. It would melt when the temperatures increased in spring. Unfortunately this construction was riven with problems. Since these were horizontal ice formations, the surface area of the glaciers was too big, so the entire glacier was exposed to the sun’s heat and would melt very quickly. The fields would be left with a substantial dry period before the natural glaciers started melting. These constructions also required constant maintenance and a north-facing valley to shade them from the sun. Inspired by Chewang Norphel’s work and to tackle these problems, Wangchuk and his team came up with the idea of building a cone of ice. The idea for the ice stupa came to him several years ago, one morning late in May, while he was driving in Ladakh. To his surprise, he spotted a piece of ice hanging from under a bridge. “I realised it was not the temperature that was causing the ice to melt away, it was the effect of direct sunlight,” he says. After many failed attempts, as he fondly recalls, he and his team of local students were able to arrive at a

4 5

1 Pipes are laid connecting to a stream of water sourced from higher up the mountains

2 This is connected to a tunnel and dome shaped framework

3 Pressure created by this difference in heights creates a fountain 4 When this water hits the freezing water air, it forms a cone of ice crystals 5 The water melts slowly throughout the spring months

“The largest glacier in Ladakh has retreated roughly 200 metres in the last five years. Agriculture is at an alltime low” INNOVATOR


Traditional crops are barley, wheat and vegetables, plus apricot and apple trees

Sonam Wangchuk has been an instrumental force in the creation of the ice stupa






A stupa is traditionally a dome-shaped Buddhist structure, often containing relics and used for prayer

working model of the conical ice stupa. Since this cone would grow vertically up towards the sun, less surface area would be exposed to the sun’s rays and hence it would hold water efficiently until June, till the natural glaciers would start to melt. “We use high-school level science here,” says Wangchuk. “Gravity builds pressure in the pipe, while the sprinklers distribute the volume of water. The droplets, when exposed to minus 20-degree air, freeze to take the shape of a cone.” The conical structures could be placed right next to the villages where water was needed. Each 18-metre stupa has the capacity to hold roughly 1.5 to 2 million litres of water. In the winter of 2016-17, the team was able to store roughly ten million litres. Each spring, the meltwater from these stupas is used to irrigate 5,000 trees planted by villagers to start the process of greening the desert. Apart from water conservation, the stupas attract thousands of tourists to the village, boosting their local economy. It was time to get to work. I put all my layers on: buff, cap, sunglasses and gloves. The temperature had fallen to -10°C. Surya instructed me to help him put wire, thorny branches and nets on the ice stupa. “These act as a nucleus for ice to form around,” he explained. “When water from the fountain sprinkles onto them, a layer of ice forms overnight. In addition, the dripping water forms stalactites, exponentially increasing the amount of ice over many days.” That night over dinner with Wangchuk, I witnessed how his face would light up while he devised solutions to multiple problems at once. The team was also in the process of experimenting with a cheaper method of building horizontal artificial glaciers by cutting steps into the valley. These would store winter water in the form of ice while breaking the flow of an oncoming flood. A solution which could save many lives and resources in the village downstream. Wangchuk calls this a “win, win, win, win situation!” INNOVATOR

The next day started early. Surya and I decided to thread the south face of the stupa. He put on his crampons and started climbing on the treacherous ice. As we began to add the threads, Surya noticed a huge gap right under his feet. “First of all, we should put more branches here, or the weight of the ice will make it collapse without a base underneath. Please go and get some branches.” He pointed to a distance 20 metres away. I dutifully walked back and forth carrying heavy thorn-covered branches until all the gaps were properly filled, every step proving twice as hard in the high altitude. I was relieved when team leader Shara called us in for lunch. Gasping for air, I took tiny steps on the slippery ice back to our base where we would gather for our meal. Later, the ten local team members plus Surya and I sat down to dinner. Everyone was upbeat, making jokes about the day’s work. “How can you be so chirpy after all the hard work you do every day in such cold weather? Where does your energy come from?” I asked. Mingyur, coteam leader, answered: “You’re looking at it upside down. These

“I walked back and forth carrying heavy branches, every step proving hard in the high altitude”

Simant Verma, 23, is a mountaineer and admirer of all things outdoors. He now works full time as a project manager of the Ice Stupa Project in Ladakh. He has previously worked with rural communities, training them in beekeeping and sustainable honey harvesting, as part of India Fellow, a social leadership programme

nights we spend joking with each other are what give us the energy to get out and work in -10°C in the mornings. It’s not easy, but it’s our way of life here.” I smiled at him. It all made sense. On my last night, I decided to brave the cold to get a last view of the ice stupas in all their glory. Similar to a volcano, a massive fountain of water erupts from the top of the sculptures, flowing through the pipes straight down from the glacier. The freezing air temperature crystalises the water droplets as they hit the ground, adding to the stupa’s cone. With the droplets sparkling in the moonlight, this impressive spectacle of nature made me proud to have witnessed an ingenious idea that has taken shape in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Two tall ice structures as a symbol of ecological healing and a world adapting to its situation. Wangchuk and his team are in tune with the rhythm of their changing environment; now with these structures of ice they have found a way to hold on to their culture and way of life.



There is a new generation of entrepreneurs who are championing social change instead of being in it solely for profit. They are taking matters into their own hands, rather than wait for someone else to do it. And they are taking advantage of resources they are able to access, instead of relying on funds. Simply put, they are the future


Here, Red Bull Amaphiko global editor Emma Warren asks social innovators from all the world what drives them – and finds out how they have turned social ideas into thriving businesses

Dominic is part of a new breed of social innovators, using talent and energy to make a difference. The US Social Enterprise Census indicates social innovation is responsible for over $300 million in revenue, in a sector which covers a wide range of people from unicorn-funded tech start-ups to super grassroots innovators using the reality of unemployment and the gig economy to invent their jobs – jobs which also benefit their community. His daily grind is a perfect fit with the definition offered by Alison Harris of South African social enterprise Sk8 for Gr8, who engages kids with skateboard design. “Social innovation,” she says, “is creativity with the purpose of turning problems into opportunities.” “We need to stop viewing making money as separate from making a difference,” adds Alison. “It is our job as social innovators to create new business models that challenge these mind-sets, sustainable businesses that function with the needs of our city and not separate from it.”

Going global The sustainable business model has become a worldwide phenomenon. In 2016, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s Social Entrepreneurship Report confirmed that it is taking root INNOVATOR


Why social innovation now?

Dominic ‘Farmer’ Nell is driving around west Baltimore, killing time before collecting his grandmother from the dentist. It’s a break of sorts for this busy photographer turned urban farmer and social innovator. At the start of each week, he runs Monday Microgreens, teaching school kids to grow their own salad and kale. On Tuesday, he’s the driver behind a unique nutrition class: “I teach youths vegan cookery as a survival skill, how we’d cook if the supermarkets closed down.” On Wednesdays, you’ll find him running trauma-informed yoga – an important offering in a city that’s averaged one murder a day for the last three years. “Teaching people to breathe gives them the ability to reflect. It’s important from a behavioural standpoint: all this violence comes from trauma and from people reacting. When you react, you don’t think. When you breathe, you think.”



address social issues that affect their communities. “I definitely think that people are activating themselves and reorienting the ways they think about their journeys, their careers and their footprint in the world to address the prominent social issues we’re faced with,” she says. “There are several reasons why our generation and Gen Z are championing social change,” she adds. “Technology, social media, increased access [to different] voices and new career paths are going to keep creating this snowball effect of more people finding their life commitment and professional pathways in social good work.”

Bootstrapping good ideas You don’t need loads of cash to get started. That’s the experience of Brazilian Franz Thomas who runs Navegando nas Artes, a sailing school for favela youth on the Billings Reservoir, São Paulo. The school promotes sailing, repairing broken boats, building selfconfidence and self-awareness and running workshops with local graffiti artists, who teach young sailors how to decorate their boats.

DOMINIC ‘FARMER’ NELL With his start-up, City Weeds, Dominic teaches students about microgreens in city schools

globally, with more entrepreneurs focusing on doing good, rather than solely on making a profit. It’s growth that comes partly from a generational increase in people favouring meaning over big money. Last year’s Better Business, Better World report found that millennials are over five times more likely to stay at a company where they feel a strong sense of purpose. “Before, when I’d go into corporate spaces, people would be like, ‘talk numbers, get that money,’” says tech founder Ava Pipitone. “I just competed in Founder Gym [a platform to train under-represented founders building tech start-ups] in San Francisco. Everyone had numbers but they had a social mission too.” De Nichols founded Civic Creatives precisely in order to ride this wave. Her company creates tools and services that help citizens creatively INNOVATOR

DE NICHOLS Mobilising global changemakers to activate ideas that address civic and social challenges, De Nichols servers as the Social Impact Design Principal of Civic Creatives

“It is possible to start from scratch with very little money,” says Franz. “People in this area have been showing a lot of daring and creativity when resources are scarce. Many people have accomplished, and are still undertaking, amazing projects, with minimal funds.” The school began by taking advantage of the resources they had access to: office workers, partner projects, other schools – and even the dam itself. Social innovation is a creative beast that can shift and transform to address almost any need, large or small. Ava Pipitone and Max Goodman invented HostHome to address homelessness amongst discriminated groups. It’s an ‘online, donor-powered, housing rental marketplace’, which began as a pilot last summer with £900 raised by friends and family, initially aimed at LGBTQ communities. “It’s scalable to different identities and demographics,” explains Ava, “like survivors of domestic violence who 23

don’t go to a shelter because the same thing can happen, or returning citizens who find it hard to get housed [when they leave prison].”

The revolution grows The power of social innovation is particularly pronounced in the UK, where the annual State of Social Enterprise report identified 70,000 social enterprises, contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly a million people.

“I think this generation of social innovators are more comfortable with profit than the last,” Sam says. “They’re capable of sophisticated and nuanced thinking and can hold two seemingly opposing ideas in mind at once. This versatility is a positive by-product of growing up in a time of volatility. “Secondly, the [first] generation of social innovators were so seemingly ‘anti-profit’ because they were part of the first wave of named ‘social entrepreneurs’. That was a radical act requiring clear convictions and firm beliefs. Now the requirements have changed, social enterprises rely less on funding and more on income and, to me, that’s a good thing. The opportunity, he says, is for a truly sustainable sector with appeal to the ‘classic’ entrepreneurs who’ll help expand their influence. Pioneering grime DJ Sian Anderson has a weekly show on BBC1Xtra. 24

SIAN ANDERSON The DJ and presenter started FLOOR SIXX, mentoring students who seek a future in the music industry

She’s more than just a DJ though, having set up FLOOR SIXX, to offer creative industry training to 16-24 year-olds who might not otherwise access it. She found her creative beginnings at Sam Conniff Allende’s Livity, which included a youth-run publication. “I was lucky enough to have Live Magazine to give me practical experience in media,” says Sian. “It was limitless, anything I wanted to do was possible. When Live shut down, I struggled to find an alternative place to send young people to, so the obvious thing to do was set one up myself.” AVA PIPITONE As executive director of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance, she co-founded HostHome – a start-up providing housing for those experiencing homelessness

Finding your power Sian’s programme began life in 2016 as a small pilot under the name One True Calling, run with fellow INNOVATOR


“The social economy has made great strides in the last 20 years,” says Mark Norbury, CEO of leading support organisation UnLtd. “It’s a growing and vibrant sector.” Since launching in 2002, it has backed 14,000 social entrepreneurs. It’s profitable, too: UnLtd found that 70 per cent of UK social businesses made a profit or broke even last year. Sam Conniff Allende knows more than most about social innovation. The author of the newly-published Be More Pirate (see page 10) broke with convention back in 2001, when he co-founded a social enterprise, Livity. He worked with brands who wanted to do something positive and collaborated with local young people to create the campaigns – a completely radical idea at the time.

Londoner and Beats 1 presenter Julie Adenuga. It now covers production, presenting, photography, videography, events, journalism and PR. This self-started, grassroots education is especially impressive, given that 91 per cent of schools in the UK face real-terms budget cuts, with music and the arts being squeezed out of the curriculum. There’s a high degree of financial and emotional investment from the new breed of social innovators: Sian Anderson funded FLOOR SIXX herself. “I ended up paying for the programme from money I made as a DJ alongside my business partner J2K, collaborating with brands like Red Bull for space and facilities, Nando’s for food – places who couldn’t offer cash but had the equivalent of large amounts in facilities, which was just as good as a cheque.” There’s undoubtedly a shift towards working with brands, says Sam Conniff Allende, who has spent two decades championing big business involvement in social innovation. “On the upside, there’s some sincere leadership taking place at large organisations, who in partnership with social innovators, can do more than most governments,” he says. “On the downside, it’s created a new category of ‘mission-led businesses’ and there’s more than enough sheep to hide a few wolves. The only answer is that this new generation holds them to account, and approaches brands with enthusiasm and ambition but also with high expectations for clarity and accountability.” Back to Dominic in Baltimore. As well as his daily projects around urban farming, photography and yoga, he’s also piloting a job-readiness app titled MyNiche. “It’s leveraging the hustle,” he says. He grew up visiting family in the country with two acres and a swimming pool and he’s using these experiences to bring urban farming to life for young kids in Baltimore. “I was a country boy, going barefoot, climbing trees. It’s hard for youth now, growing up in the concrete jungle.” “I want to pass it on. I’m showing them it’s possible: you can do the same thing.” INNOVATOR

Red Bull Amaphiko The programme has been giving wings to pioneers using their talent, creativity and energy to solve social problems since 2014. Over 100 grassroots social innovators have passed through the 18-month immersive programme, which has taken place in the US, Brazil and South Africa

Soweto, 2014. The first Red Bull Amaphiko Academy is taking place at a community centre near Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela lived. Here, 16 handpicked grassroots social entrepreneurs are meeting big brains from MIT or are huddled in mentoring sessions on colourful cushions. They’re all developing innovative ideas: a recycled school bag with a road-safe reflective strip, and a solar panel that enables night-time study; mobile billboards that give informal rubbish collectors income and stability. That was just the beginning. Over 100 pioneering changemakers have since gone through Academies in the US, Brazil and South Africa.

The 18-month programme begins with a ten-day Academy where each day contains inspiration and mentorship alongside practical skills like business planning. Afterwards, participants team up with a mentor to develop business, personal and strategic development plans. Between Academies, social innovators in countries with existing programmes can apply for taster-style Connect events. Find out if there’s a Connect programme in your country and follow the constant stream of inspirational stories about social innovators on the Red Bull Amaphiko social channels.


By turning empty wasteground into a community garden, Walker Marsh has regenerated an abandoned corner of east Baltimore. He explains how he’s encouraged teens with a criminal record to help with the flower farm and build new lives WORDS BY MICHELLE ANTOINETTE NELSON PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTAAN FELBER

Helping grow plants and people 10




Bringing horticultural therapy to a deprived area, Walker has helped his community




our years ago, the intersection at North Gay and Washington Street in east Baltimore was not exactly the most vibrant spot in town. The street scene was characterised by empty terraced houses with boards nailed over the windows and heavy traffic. That all changed with the arrival of Walker Marsh. The tall, bearded figure started an initiative to bring beauty to the neighbourhood – by turning vacant land into an oasis in the middle of the concrete desert. “Welcome to Tha Flower Factory,” Walker greets us on arrival and walks us through the half-acre spot he has reserved for his community garden. “I have to dig up the weeds and replant the grass,” he says, pointing to a patch of vegetation. “I put grass seed down earlier but then I forgot to put the straw over it so the birds ate it. Of course, the weeds came back. But I kind of like them, they add beautiful colour,” he says. It’s a sunny day in late April. For Walker, this means he’s busy getting the plot ready for the new season. “Everything can be a weed, a tomato plant can be a weed if someone doesn’t want it there, so these may just stay as a part of the garden.” It’s an unusual statement coming from a gardener, but it says a lot about Walker’s approach to his passion. According to a thesis by landscape architect Che-Wei Yi, vacant properties [in Baltimore] often become an invitation for crime, dumping and other unsociable activities, whereas well-maintained, urban green spaces can reduce crime, strengthen social ties and improve physical and mental health. With that in mind, Walker applied for a grant at


the local Growing Green Initiative in 2014 and won the programme’s design competition. His vision for Tha Flower Factory was to provide a sense of ownership in the community and encourage environmental stewardship. “People look at a neighbourhood like this and they don’t see much in the way of hope,” Walker told The Baltimore Sun in 2016. “I’m hoping this shows that there’s a lot that can be done with the resources we have.” The name for the venture was suggested by Eric Booker, the Broadway East Community Association president. Walker loved the name except that he made one small but very important edit. “I changed the spelling of ‘the’ to ‘tha’ because I feel like it was an expression of my personal background. As a black man growing up in Baltimore, that’s how we would write ‘the’ and I really wanted our name to have a lot of character.” In just a few weeks, his premises will be home to hundreds of plants, specifically his favourites. “Sunflowers are good for the neighbourhood because they take carbon out of the air and lead out of the soil,” Marsh explains. Even though he’s convinced that his work delivers a healing element to the city, he has faced some adversity. “During the anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, I went downtown with a bucket full of flowers, and was handing them out [Freddie Gray, 25, died in police custody a week after his arrest by Baltimore police in 2015]. I wasn’t even really talking about the farm, I was just giving flowers to folk and a guy looked at me like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ I answered, ‘It’s just a flower, man.’ Also, when I have been out here with my young helpers, I can tell by the looks on their faces that

“People look at a neighbourhood like this and don’t see much hope. I’m hoping this shows there’s a lot that can be done”


Equipment and tools are kept in a brightly painted storage container


Green-fingered gardener Walker ensures the grounds are always cared for, bringing beauty to a forgotten area

they question why I am a dude growing flowers,” he recalls. Walker is referring to the nine young people that Tha Flower Factory employed in 2016. They were recruited from the juvenile justice system to make positive changes in their lives. Most were receptive to his instruction in horticulture and management practices and showed a keen interest in starting businesses of their own, he told The Baltimore Sun. Unfortunately, the programme did not get the funding it needed to bring the young band of helpers back in 2018. Now, Walker is working with a member of the English department at nearby Dunbar High School to teach students how to grow plants in the school’s greenhouse. Despite changes to the programme and the funding challenges, Walker continues to tend the plot and find opportunities to help communicate his mission. In the summer of 2017, he was chosen to be a part of the first Red Bull Amaphiko Academy in the US. The programme is a launchpad for grassroots social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their community: to give them the inspiration, mentorship and practical skills needed to enrich their lives. Walker’s eyes gleam as he talks about the programme. “Red Bull Amaphiko helped me understand the fact that I had created a non-profit but I was trying to turn it into a forprofit,” he says. “My mentor Tara [Roberts, an award-winning social entrepreneur and journalist] asked me the greatest question: ‘Walker, do you think that you actually need to sell flowers to achieve your goal for Tha Flower Factory?’ That led me to think about what people would actually like. The first season I grew sunflowers and people really liked them. The next season I didn’t do them and people wanted to know where the sunflowers went. So I decided to do them again. Now, I’m transitioning into just being a for-profit venture and growing sunflowers for the seeds to have as snacks, essential oils and sunflower butter.” This year, instead of selling the flowers to nearby cafes and 29

With Red Bull Amaphiko support, Walker is looking forward to putting new ideas into action



There is now a good stock of gardening equipment for students and helpers

neighbours, Walker plans to sell his own sunflower products at farmers’ markets, vendor events, corner shops – and to people in the community. But the business is not just about making a profit. While walking back to the plot, a customer stops Walker to ask, “Can I grow healing herbs here?” Walker seems delighted by the idea and gives her a tour, while explaining his vision for the space designed for the community garden. When he’s finished, he climbs up onto his brightly spray-painted metallic storage container next to the gardens, where all the tools are stored. From here, with a bird’s eye view, he can survey the grounds and he quickly takes some photographs. It’s all part of his mission: capturing memories and documenting new narratives about the blossoming life on the east side of Baltimore.

“Sunflowers are good for the area because they take the carbon out of the air and lead out of the soil”

Four steps to starting a community garden Maybe you’ve spotted an unloved corner of your city that could do with the Walker Marsh touch. We asked him for advice on how to create a community garden – here are his tips:

STEP 1 TRY IT FIRST “It’s best to test out your greenfingered skills first so make sure you get some growing experience. If there is anywhere you can start a small garden, give it a try and see what it is like to grow plants and flowers. Or you can start by volunteering at a farm or helping a friend with their garden.”

STEP 2 FIND YOUR WATER SOURCE “This is critical for your new venture – find where your source of water is. You need to design your garden around how easy it is to get the water to the plants.”

STEP 3 FIND YOUR PIECE OF LAND “The third step is acquiring the land! If you have somewhere in mind and you don’t know if you can rent the space, speak to your community association or council and tell them what you want to do. The most important thing is to get connected with the community.”

STEP 4 TOOLS AND SUPPLIES “The fourth step is acquiring your tools and supplies. Visit a tool bank or get into a tool-share initiative because gardening tools can get very expensive.” Getting to grips with the lawnmower





BALANCING ACT Co-founder Samantha Payne. She is proud to have a 50:50 gender ratio at Open Bionics and feels this has been a positive factor for product development


Samantha and her team of 19 are thinking about putting more of the kids’ ideas into action. “They want a smartphone or speakers built into their prosthetic, and to be able to charge their phone from their hand,” she says. “At the moment, we’re still focused on creating a bionic limb that can do the most good for a lot of people. But in the future, I can definitely see us working on bionic limbs that have superhuman functionalities.”


The UK-based startup Open Bionics is revolutionising the prosthetics market by creating affordable 3D bionic arms. Co-founder Samantha Payne’s future mission is to turn disabilities into superpowers

Bionic hands can cost up to £60,000 from private providers. That’s a lot of money, when you consider that 135 people a week in the UK undergo amputations as a result of diabetes alone. One start-up is pushing the boundaries. “We’re creating devices with the same functionality for under £10,000,” says Samantha Payne, co-founder of Open Bionics. “We’ve changed manufacturing methods – instead of metal we use plastic, and instead of injection moulding we use 3D printing.” As a result of their innovation, the Bristol-based robotics start-up won the 2015 James Dyson Award in the UK. Four years ago, Samantha and her business partner, robotics engineer Joel Gibbard, started research on how to improve the lives of amputees. Lowering the cost was important but their main goal was to pay more attention to the aesthetics and how the device feels to the amputee, especially to children, when it’s something they wear on a daily basis.


Even better than the real thing

mimic the human hand,” Samantha says. “Kids are less constrained. We did workshops with young amputees, and it was their ideas that inspired us to create superhero arms.” A royalty-free agreement with Disney allows Open Bionics to make prosthetic arms based on characters from movies such as Iron Man and Frozen. In April, the company launched the Hero Arm. The futuristic-looking device, which can be custom made for children as young as eight, is controlled in response to muscle movements which are detected by sensors within the prosthetic. Weighing less than a kilogram, it can lift up to eight.

“If you ask an adult, ‘How do you want your bionic hand to look?’, they say it should 32




Inspiring confidence

Tilly Lockey, 12, lost both her hands to meningitis as a baby. Of her prototype robot hand, she told the BBC, ‘It looks awesome and it makes you feel confident’


Daniel Melville is a tester for Open Bionics. The hand he’s wearing won the company a Guinness World Record for the world’s first prosthetic limb based on a videogame (Deus Ex)

“Many young people assume that you can’t pitch to an investor unless you have a business development degree. As a journalist, I didn’t study business or engineer and yet I launched a tech startup with no previous experience. At the start, you need to be curious, passionate and have confidence in order to persuade people that you have an ambitious vision.”




Almost like magic, Jon’s easilytransportable filters work in seconds, bringing muchneeded drinking water to communities

Former pro surfer Jon Rose has changed the lives of millions of people with a simple water filter. And by joining his guerrilla relief movement, Waves for Water, you can do so, too

He’s still surprised at how simple the idea is and how well it works. Simplicity is important for Jon – he never planned to be the founder of a large aid organisation. He sees himself more as a guerrilla aid worker who just happens to have contributed – via Waves for Water’s work in 32 countries – to 34

providing close to eight million people with clean drinking water. Back in September 2009, Jon had planned a two-week holiday to Indonesia, to ride the waves and travel around the country with friends. He packed ten water filters. His father’s job involved water purification in developing countries and Jon thought they might come in handy if they passed through some small village with no access to clean water. The holiday turned into a trip that would change his life. One day, Jon and his surfer buddies boarded a boat in Padang, a town on the west coast of Sumatra, to spend the night out at sea. What awaited them when they came back to shore was a scene of devastation.


Take a sip

Jon Rose always takes the first sip of water himself. He is holding a glass of cloudy brown water in one hand – water that contains soil deposits and parasites. In his other hand, he is holding the same water from the same well, only this time there’s nothing brown swimming around in it. It is clean and pretty much clear because, just a minute earlier, the 40-year-old had poured it into a plastic bucket and run it through a small, inconspicuous filter. As soon as Jon has drunk the filtered swill, the ice is broken, whether that be in Haiti, India, Indonesia, Sierra Leone or any other country in the world. Because if this guy from America is willing to expose his immune system to this water, then it can’t be all that bad. Everyone around him gives the filter a shot – he always carries one around in his rucksack. “One single filter can provide up to one million gallons of clean water,” says Jon, a former professional surfer from California, who laid the foundations for his international aid organisation – Waves for Water – eight years ago. “Using this £25 filtration system gives up to 100 people access to clean water. A hollow fibre membrane safely filters five of the most common pathogenic bacteria – cholera, giardia, salmonella, E.coli and typhus – out of the water.”





How the filters work

As a professional surfer, Jon was in Indonesia to ride the waves when he experienced the devastation of an earthquake. This was the catalyst for his new life


Waves for Water uses hollow fibre membrane filters that eliminate sediment and bacteria bigger than 0.1 micron. Bacteria such as cholera, E. coli, salmonella, streptococcus, botulism and giardia are between 0.2 and 5 microns in size, so they get caught in the membrane. The filters need to be cleaned regularly. If they’re very dirty they should be cleaned daily, otherwise, once every two to three weeks will suffice – and they can last for up to five years. On average, a single £25 water filter will purify up to 4.5 million litres of water. All you need to get started is a clean bucket. The filters come with a connector, a hole-cutter to cut an hole in the bucket, an adapter hose, a filter cleaner and a filter hanger.



While he had been sailing, Sumatra had been struck by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake. It was a natural disaster that claimed almost 1,000 lives and left 100,000 people without shelter, power or water. Jon didn’t wait long to pitch in – his water filters turned out to be a godsend. Once back on US soil, he bought more filters and then headed off again, this time to Haiti. A devastating earthquake in January 2010 had laid waste to whole swathes of the country. “I thought I would be there for a couple of weeks but I ended up staying for two years,” he says. “I created a little website, people started donating organically and that money would go directly into buying more filters. I didn’t need much money for my own needs, and I didn’t have any staff.”

Jon has never been interested in classic fundraising. He doesn’t want to be a strategist for an international aid organisation. He still thinks of himself as a surfer travelling the world in search of the best wave who, almost as a sideline, provides swift access to clean drinking water without red tape. And it is for precisely this reason that he created the 36

Jon advises against looking for the usual representatives. It’s better to seek out those who are respected in the community for what they do: midwives, teachers, doctors and healthcare workers. “But you can just hook up with people that you connect with,” he says. “It could be a taxi driver, someone you meet at a restaurant or a local family. Maybe they will get involved because you helped them.” One thing quickly leads to another. Jon states there are three things – sharing meals, playing music and telling stories about your own family – which always foster trust, regardless of the culture. “Locals know what’s needed. If you go to an area where they have a


Waves for Water courier programme, a DIY distribution network based on Jon’s motto: “Do what you love, and help along the way.” Any traveller – whether they’re surfers, climbers or ramblers – can buy water filters online and take them where they’re most needed. “We provide the filters and instructions on how to use them correctly,” Jon explains. “Every traveller should be able to create their own set of experiences. Some just want to be involved for a day or two and then carry on with a totally regular holiday whereas others have more time to offer. But we’re very happy to give tips on how to make initial contact and gain a community’s trust.”


“I created a little website, people started donating and that money went directly into filters. I didn’t need much money for my own needs and I didn’t have any staff.”



In Nigaragua, Jon and helpers offload buckets and supplies as part of a humanitarian assistance programme in 2015

After a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, a crowd gathers to watch Jon’s demonstration of his water filters

Water pipes are brought ashore in Nicaragua to help with flood management

preexisting condition – natural or manmade – either chemicals from a factory or heavy arsenic elements in the ground, they will know about it.” The Waves for Water filters are not up to eliminating those, admittedly, but, as Jon stresses, in 90 per cent of cases, water is contaminated with pathogens that the filters can eliminate all too well. “Probably my most important message is, with these filters, you can do no wrong. If the community or village you go to has an arsenic issue, they’ve been dealing with this anyway. Still, the filters will prevent people from getting diarrhoea or other waterborne diseases.” The filters always have a positive impact on social structure, too. Jon talks of an Indonesian village where the infant mortality rate is 50 per cent. “Every other baby dies. The main focus for women is water. Every day they walk six miles for it – some may be sexually assaulted along the way. They spend the rest of their day collecting firewood to boil that water [to kill any germs]. They don’t have time for their crafts or to generate some small amount of income. So, if you go in and do a filter system for them, you can make a real change.”






Turning smog into jewellery In Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities, a futuristic tower sucks in pollution. This filtered smog then goes through a form of alchemy as innovator Daan Roosegaarde turns it into diamonds


Air pollution in Beijing reached new and hazardous record levels in January 2013. Residents of the Chinese capital were advised to avoid outdoor activities as air quality was 30 times above the level judged as safe by the World Health Organisation. Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist-turned-entrepreneur, had been working in China for six years when this news broke. It confirmed his opinion that the world was evolving technologically faster than our actual understanding of the harm we’re causing in the process. He was determined to do something about it. Two years later, at 798 Art Zone, a design district in Beijing, he presented his smog-free tower, a sevenmetre-tall aluminium structure. Using a mere 1,170 watts of green electricity and positive ionisation technology, the tower is the first air purifier of its kind ever built. It is capable of

improving air quality up to 70 per cent within its radius. The tower sucks in pollution from its surroundings and pushes out clean air after filtration; inside, it collects the filtered smog particles. “It’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever smelled,” says Daan. “It’s like death in powder form. Just think about it, that stuff would be inside your body.” Filtered smog is nearly 40 per cent carbon, which is the same substance that diamonds are made of. Abiding by the old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, what could Daan do, but make jewellery? He produced his smog-free rings and cufflinks, which

From top: an aerial view of the tower, where smog is collected; social and technological innovator Daan Roosegaarde





In a park next to Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, the smog-free tower helps to keep the city’s dangerous pollution levels down







This tower is in the port city of Tianjin in northeastern China



I N N O V AT O R From top: Daan now operates on a global level with his smogfree project; the condensed particles of smog

contain compressed smog from 1,000 m3 of clean air. Like an alchemist, he created something beautiful and desirable from a waste product. Furthermore, jewellery sales help fund the expansion of smog-free towers. In recent years, they’ve popped up across China and in Poland. Did he have any previous knowledge of the topic before working on it? Daan, a naturally reserved individual, takes time to answer: “I knew nothing. In fact, I was even a smoker! But you don’t need to know about your topic when you start out,” he says. “If you have a natural curiosity for



BLACK DIAMONDS A popular choice as a wedding ring, it contains a cube of compressed smog, collected from the smog-free towers

something, then that becomes an obsession and you keep learning more along the way. In fact, your obsession motivates you to learn more quickly.” In that sense, he would describe himself as an explorer. In a world where every corner has been mapped, exploring new frontiers has evolved and Daan feels today’s explorers “hack, upgrade and tweak”. From solar-energy-generating cycle paths in the Netherlands to smog-free bicycles in China, the Dutch entrepreneur is hacking our everyday and offering up Earth-friendly alternatives. “Energy is all around us, it’s just a matter of harnessing it,” Daan says, as he describes his windharvesting kites that can stay up for months – just one of dozens of designs by Daan that his studios are implementing. More recently, the explorerentrepreneur’s work has attracted the interest of American agencies looking at reducing space debris that is threatening the world’s network of satellites. Needless to say, tackling the issue of 29,000 pieces of space debris is the perfect challenge for a modern-day explorer like Daan.

“Try imagining yourself as one of those machines that serves tennis balls. You throw proposals out into the world, one after another, and see which ones get a reaction and get hit back. Validation of some of our wildest ideas was key to knowing what to explore further.”






about this woman called Lauren Singer in New York, who went zero waste. She accumulated only enough rubbish to fill one jar in two years,” she says. “I was inspired to do the same but that’s almost impossible if you shop at conventional stores. So, I started my own.” Zero-waste shops are springing up all over Europe, Germany alone has over 60. Although they can’t compete with discount supermarket prices, Ingrid says that plastic-free has the potential to become mainstream, referring to the Canadian retailer Bulk Barn with its 260 stores. “Things aren’t designed in a circular economy mindset yet,” she says. “I think there should be incentives for companies to use better packaging. Avoiding waste is clearly the future, and shops like Bulk Market can lead the way.” Find out about Bulk Market’s new east London shop, due to launch this summer, at

LEAP INTO THE UNKOWN Ingrid says she wasn’t a ‘classic hippy’ – she used to work in marketing for a big oil company, before changing course and starting her eco-business


At this pop-up shop in east London, you have to bring your own containers. With its zero-waste policy, Bulk Market shows what the future of grocery shopping could look like

Freshly-baked breads and cakes sit on wooden shelves. Preserving jars with handwritten labels are filled with spices and nuts. On the floor, you’ll find vegetables and fruit in wicker baskets. On entering Bulk Market in east London, you might feel like you’re in a past century. But as soon as you speak to the shop owner Ingrid Caldironi, it becomes clear that this seemingly oldfashioned style of shop has a very modern ethos. Bulk Market is London’s first zero-waste supermarket. It’s a plastic-free shop where customers bring their own containers and buy grocery goods and other items. Stock is mostly sourced locally from social enterprises. The breads come from a local bakery that employs women from a disadvantaged background, the vegetables are harvested at local community farms. Ingrid launched Bulk Market in August 2017, mainly because of frustration with normal supermarkets. “Three years ago, I read


Bring your own bag



GREEN ROOM Not only grocery items make it onto the shelves at Bulk Market – there are around 300 products including bamboo toothbrushes and pet food. There are plans for a composting machine in the new shop

NEW PASTURES… Bulk Market’s pop-up shop in Dalston proved the business model had a future; Ingrid is looking for a bigger space and plans to reopen in summer


Seed capital “I wasn’t able to get funding for my project at the start, but that’s no excuse to give up. Instead of renting a big space right away (for a commercial lease you often need to sign a 10-year contract), I opened a pop-up shop. This way, you can test the water with less to lose. Now, with a successful crowd-funding campaign under my belt, I feel confident to open a bigger shop.” INNOVATOR


How valuable is your waste? WORDS BY KIERAN YATES

Global polluter, the single-use water bottle, becomes a valuable resource in the hands of regeneration experts





Humans have produced more than nine billion tons of plastic since the 1950s. Only nine per cent is recycled. London/Berlinbased start-up Pentatonic seeks to make a change. Promoting the circular zerowaste economy, the visionary company turns waste into highend homeware – and even thinks about taking its strategies to Mars


Simple and sculpted furniture is created from plastic and other materials that would otherwise be sent to landfill




he idea of seeing smartphones, old DVD cases and cigarette butts finding new life as chic, well-designed homeware might seem, at a glance, like one of many eco-friendly design projects flooding the market. But what if you could recycle these products infinitely? What if you can become a market trader of the valuable commodity that is rubbish? This is how lifestyle brand Pentatonic is changing the way we think about zero waste. The company combines the environmental values of a circular, zero-waste economy with design values, which sees it make beautiful, ergonomic and smart products. The company is awash with ideas. Its philosophy is made real, thanks to its ability to re-recycle, while innovations in plastic construction means that it has created safe polymers that can be manipulated into felts and cushions. On a day when UK headline news is an environmental issue – single use, virgin plastics such as cotton buds to potentially be banned within a year – we meet up with Jamie Hall, he’s one of the co-founders of Pentatonic. Here, he talks about geographical waste trends, the idea of taking this thinking to Mars and the evils of MDF. The Red BulleTin: Your products rely on a good supply of waste. Where do you source it from? Jamie hall: It comes from waste management companies – the kind of organisations that have contracts to clear up local boroughs and large industrial sites, and we access supply chains. We work with small companies that specialise in dismantling one type of plastic, or one colour of plastic, for example. It all depends on what we want and what we want it for. On the subject of geographical waste trends: how important is this 46

“So, you’ll have something that used to be a chair leg and then becomes a cushion. You start to see the circular economy in motion”

information for the way your company operates? Well, you tend to find more fashion waste in regions where there’s a high turnover of high-street fashion, like the US and Europe [Pentatonic has a ‘new clothes’ collection made of furnishings such as hangers and cushions plus other accessories made entirely out of clothes]. The sophistication of waste management varies from region to region because the incentives vary. So, for example, there is almost zero glass waste in Germany because there’s such a prolific return scheme. As you’d expect, electronic waste in China and Japan is very high. For us, 98 per cent of what we use is European waste, with the exception of our glassware, which is made from predominantly Taiwanese smartphone screens. How does the ‘circular economy’ affect what you do? Our products are homeware and accessories and we are trying hard to accelerate the use of the circular

economy. We only use what we already have in the system and we apply it and engineer it over and over again with the ultimate goal of reducing waste. No one has done anything like this in an engaging, dynamic, cool, consumer-focused way. Up until now, everyone has been keen to ‘do the right thing’ in a haphazard fashion. Thanks to technology, we’re now in a unique position to do things properly, as a consumer brand. We want to introduce an entirely new model of usage in the consumer space, through a design lens. Is this trend making an impact in the design community? It’s getting there. Just this week, we were in Milan for Design Week and we saw how much more focus there is on sustainability and mindfulness, on how things are used and what processes are used. In every consumer industry, things are shifting – the UK news today shows you that – and homeware and furniture design are absolutely no different in this regard. Your products have Unique Identification numbers (UIDs) attached to them, so consumers INNOVATOR

know their history. How important is it that objects tell a story to encourage the circular economy? Stories and the element of transparency are nice but I think it’s more a question of it being the right thing to do – people like to know where things come from. So we tell people that this table started life as a waste batch of aluminium at a scrap plant in Munich. There’s a bigger reason for us, though – UIDs allow the user to always know the value of that waste material. We see waste as a valuable commodity, and the way we make things means objects can always be re-recycled. In this way they become valuable, because you essentially become a material trader. Customers can also can trade back to us. This is when the UIDs start to take a really interesting turn – if you own a chair of ours, you can trade it back to us for the price listed on the UID. The return values will remain almost identical and as soon as we start to recycle over and over, we get products with multiple UIDs, so you’ll have something that used to be a chair leg and then becomes a cushion. You start to see the circular economy in motion and see how it functions. New life for old phones: tumblers and bowls are created using smartphone screens, predominantly from Taiwan

What do you think about the idea of connectivity, and merging the roles of consumer and supplier? It’s everywhere. Look at everything in our lives, it’s become more connected, so this is an extension of this thinking. We want to help you to recognise the value in what you spend – you don’t just buy something and it depreciates to zero straight away. Every part of it has an exchange value. What do you think the biggest shift in consumer psychology needs to be? The single-use culture is widespread – littering, wastage, the current state of the oceans... there are a billion challenges for us, which is why it has to be transitional rather than


Inspired founders Johann Bödecker (left) and exbrand marketer Jamie Hall INNOVATOR


“If we do ever set up colonies on Mars, we’re going to have to operate with circularity”

The chair, which is available in a range of colours, is repurposed from plastics. The bolt is created from six bottle caps

overnight. But someone has to start it and launch it in a way that’s dynamic. We’re hoping others will follow. What are your favourite pieces from your collection? I have a table and a fractured desk at home – it’s in pieces that you slot together. It’s made from a set from Dancing on Ice, which I like. We worked with suppliers, doing stage design for our pop-up shop in London last year and we used sets from London Fashion Week catwalks too.

Can you give some examples of recyclable products that do more damage than we realise? Most things are a hybrid of elements that are hard to separate, so it means they can’t be re-recycled. MDF is a good example. It’s cheap and it does a job, so from a functional level you could argue it’s OK but from an environmental and structural level, it’s quite toxic – a mash of glue and 48

Waste products are prepared before being transformed into household objects

resin and sometimes formaldehyde. It also contains lacquer and paint – that’s seven or eight different polymers stuck together that can’t be broken down. You can’t really restore or reuse it. Can your regenerative practice help us on a larger scale? If we do ever set up colonies on Mars, say, we’re going to have to operate with circularity, using and reusing. You have to think conceptually about material use: about regeneration and

having enough waste to come back as products for everyone’s needs. Companies like ours are essential to spearhead and accelerate demand to make that supply chain possible. Is there a conflict with shipping globally and also wanting to limit your carbon footprint? Yes, we’re aware of this and we try to limit our footprint as much as possible. We ship our products with no unnecessary packaging and we hope for better solutions in the future. It’s difficult because although we are relatively small, we’re still a business, so people say things like, ‘you shouldn’t use central heating’. That is a challenge but one that we’re trying to work around. We’re all trying our best. INNOVATOR


You’ve invented an environmentally friendly polymer called Plyfix – could you tell us more about it? It’s a material made from a PET polymer, which is similar to water bottles and is an invention from one of our investors called Miniwiz. We use it on a wide scale, it has a mix of melting-point plastics and molecules so you can bend it and form its shape while it retains a soft exterior. We use it to make chairs, for example. Rather than having six things stuck together, you have a single piece that can be recycled as easily as a plastic bottle.

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Bodyweight training builds functioning muscle, but this south London street gym uses it to build a functioning community WORDS BY TOM GUISE PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM CORBETT



Survival of the fittest To save space, the gym goers added a third parallel bar. It birthed a new, super-fluid calisthenics system – Flow




here’s plenty of music in the multicultural melting pot that is the south London district of Brixton. Follow the right rhythm and it’ll lead you to a street where something amazing is happening. Here, at an abandoned industrial site, members of the local community practise urban calisthenics reimagined for the minimal space and equipment they can afford. Spinning their bodies around the workout bars to the beat of hip hop and grime, their technique has caught the attention of street gyms across the globe. But seven years ago, this area was moving to a different beat. On the night of August 7, 2011, the London riots were in full swing. “It was crazy. Cars were being crashed, it was raining and a helicopter swooped 10 metres to the floor, spraying rain into the air,” recalls Ben Wachenje of the mayhem that unfolded around him. “A stone’s throw from where I live, I could see everyone smashing the shutters of [electrical retailer] Currys, going in, taking all the goods. The police had blocked the road but weren’t doing anything. I was heading home when a group of youths walked towards me. I felt they were gonna do something to me when a car pulled up and the driver went to his boot. They started saying, ‘He’s got to be a fed,’ and moved around him, intimidating him, but not really doing anything. It distracted them from me. “When I got home, I thought, ‘These are guys that live round here; what they were doing was stupid.’ But there’s also the other side – as the senior generation we haven’t done much for them. We can do better.” Ben wanted to engage the local youth, but, at 37 years old, wasn’t sure how. “As an older person, you’re


Gym membership (from left to right): Nay, Diesel, Ben G, Fabio, Lex, Wayne, Fred, Yellow, Deborah, Twin and Phil




Wayne Beckford, who – with his younger brother Fred and friends Diesel and Ben Goldstein – helped create the Flow workout system

Terroll Lewis, the founder of Block WorkOut, turned his own troubled youth into a positive force for other young people

not necessarily in touch, so rather than come up with an initiative, it’s better to enrich what they’re already doing.” He needed inspiration. A year later, Ben was jogging in nearby Brockwell Park. “I’d ballooned to 115kg and I’m just shy of 180cm tall, so that’s pretty big. I’d tried distance running and football, but needed something different and got into the whole bodyweight training movement. I saw this group of 20-30 guys training on the facilities. With so many people using the equipment, I thought maybe there was an opportunity to build a bigger calisthenics park. I decided to see if these guys wanted to get involved. I went up to one of them and said, ‘Are you running this?’” The guy was Terroll Lewis, who had started the group in 2010. It was a response to a teenage life of running with local gangs that had landed him in prison at the age of 19, wrongly convicted of murder. In his cell he began bodyweight training and, 11 months later, when his conviction was overturned, he took home what he’d learned. He called the group Block WorkOut after the housing blocks they all lived in. “Terroll said to me, ‘Why don’t you train with us today?’ It was an intense workout – not just pull-ups, dips, 54

what people think of as bodyweight training – we were doing crawls, sprints, carrying each other, partnering up with someone from a different estate. They might be from [nearby area] Peckham and you’re from Brixton, which wasn’t really happening at the time. I liked it and got involved from that day.” Ben realised Block WorkOut was what he’d been looking for. “It’s a youth-led movement. Since 2012, thousands of people have trained with us. They’re exposed to people they wouldn’t normally meet, and together get through something difficult. The energy young men have can be hostile; you can’t underestimate the impact a workout has – there’s respect. When I see anyone from Block WorkOut on the street, I say hello. It neutralises potential beef. We’re a community.” Over the next year, the group grew but the council was concerned about damage to the park. “They’d say, ‘You’re mashing up the mud, beating up the equipment,’” recalls Ben. The crew were put in touch with Brixton Green, a community initiative focused on the redevelopment of nearby

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER London-based photographer Adam Corbett has been following the Block WorkOut community for two years, and is working on a book project documenting their story. “The strength and diversity in the community was the first thing I noticed when I met everyone at the Brixton Street Gym. It’s a place for anyone to come and train. As well as pioneering the calisthenics movement in London over eight years, their outreach projects beyond the gym have been essential in creating a positive relationship within the wider community.” @adamcorbettphoto


“The energy young men have can be hostile. You can’t underestimate the impact a workout has – there’s respect”

Brunel University built a workshop on their campus for Diesel (pictured) to show them how Flow works



Somerleyton Road. “They told us, ‘Between now and when the road gets demolished, providing you guys give affordable fitness, we’ll let you have some space.’ That’s how we got the street gym.” Excitement was quickly tempered by reality. “In 2013, when I saw the site, I was worried,” says Ben. “Terroll had massive ambitions for the gym and it was basically a loading bay. You had a bit of shelter where lorries would back in, there was the compound around it, and inside was a kitchen. I drew up some plans and we stripped out the old pipework, adding climbing frames.” With just £5,000 raised by a local councillor, and £2,000 of their own money, the group had to be inventive, using hammers and tyres as weights. These proved ideal as rookie equipment. “It was key to have exercises that someone who is 140kg would feel awesome doing. Ask them to do ten pull-ups, they’ll do half a pull-up, rip some muscles, be injured and not want to come back. Tell them to flip a tyre, they’ll flip it better than anyone else in the gym, because they’re used to moving a big weight. Most gyms are based on the Schwarzenegger philosophy – hypertrophy, damaging muscles so they grow back bigger. What we do is about strength and control – balance, coordination, rhythm.”

Ben Wachenje AKA ‘Brother Ben’ – “My motivation was to guide young people, but these guys helped me extend my life”


For 37-year-old Lex Bwalya, body strength and control have a deeper meaning. “In 2011, Strep A shut down my organs. When I came out of the coma, they amputated all my toes and the ball joint of the left foot. Part of my quad had died, it’s never coming back. Standing on two feet was a fallacy,” she says. “The National Health Service rehab you enough to get to the toilet. That wasn’t enough. “At the gym I started using the triple bars. I’d go to my surgeon and he was like: ‘Whatever you’re doing, please just keep doing it. You shouldn’t even be walking.’ Every step is pain, but calisthenics works on my neural pathways. It’s pain management, because if I don’t work out, my body thinks everything is painful.” Today, Lex coaches. “When people can’t do something, I say: ‘Are you going to let the woman with no toes jog faster than you?’ I sometimes get the little foot out. They think: ‘OK, INNOVATOR

she has no toes and dead quad muscles, but can do that. I’m playing.’ No matter your issues, you can find a way around it.” The triple parallel bars also gave rise to another breakthrough. “I’d put it in as a space-saving design, but what people did with it was just different. They started treating the three bars like a surface to be on top of or below,” Says Ben. “There’s always been moves – muscle-ups, handstands, dips, planches – but they created artistic transitions, a constant stream of movement that looks like breakdancing, especially when it’s on beat. I’m talking about Flow.” Ben credits one of the gym regulars, Wayne Beckford, with the creation of many of Flow’s moves but its DNA comes from everyone who tackles those triple bars, and now, thanks to YouTube, it has drawn proponents from around the world. “A lot of moves that have gone global literally came from these guys thinking: ‘How can we go from this to this?’ And they get frustrated because nobody gives them the credit. People see the moves, then copy them and go win tournaments. But the hard bit is to create it from nothing, and that’s what they do over and over again.” There has been some positive recognition. “A lot of brands are trying to figure out ways to tag onto it in an authentic way,” says Ben. “And the guys that do Flow have been invited

Built in a disused loading bay, the gym is scheduled for demolition

“Work your body and it helps the mind – there’s no separation between the two”

to Brunel University for workshops. There’s a good future for them.” The future for the street gym is less clear. “It’s gonna be demolished, we were told that from the get-go,” say Ben. “Repairs are needed, but we could invest in the building only to find we’re out next week. We’ve lived in limbo for nearly four years.” Ben believes the gym is vital for the local youth. “Sports, fitness and music are some of the only ways we can forge communities now, because we don’t have the spaces that used to exist: pub culture, youth centres, libraries. People need to learn how to exchange ideas and understand other perspectives in a way you can only really do in person. We train outdoors, so we’re always connected and getting vitamin D from the sun. Work your body and it helps the mind – there’s no separation between the two. And when young people train with us they achieve something tangible – a physical gain based on work put in. That’s a lesson for life: if I work hard at something, I can be successful.” Ben also says the gym has rescued him. “If you’re an older person training alongside young people, it keeps you young. Those guys have extended my life. I was medically obese. It’s a dark place that’s hard to get out of. Today, I’m 82kg. I’m not fanatical about my weight, I don’t sculpt my body, I’m more interested in my heart. I just flip tyres, smash hammers and have fun training.”

Lex Bwalya on the triple bars. “If I miss a week I stiffen up, I get weaker”


Find out more about the Brixton Street Gym or help support them at Follow Ben Wachenje at @aka_bro_ben and Terroll Lewis at @terrolllewis on Instagram




These six heroes under 26 from the field of social innovation reveal their secrets of success: how they’ve turned simple ideas into enterprises that change the lives of thousands, why businesses with a social impact are the future and what you can learn from their approach to get your own project off the ground WORDS BY LEA WIESER ILLUSTRATIONS BY BAUER & HOFMANN



young people change the future INNOVATOR

Bonnie’s social enterprise is empowering marginalised women worldwide

Bonnie Chiu 24 Hong Kong

Bonnie founded Lensational, a social enterprise that empowers marginalised women from the developing world through photography. The goal is to provide women with a voice and a source of income. Founded in 2013, Lensational has worked with more than 600 women from 15 countries. Bonnie, who made it on to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list last year, is from Hong Kong but is based in London, where she serves as the managing director of The Social Investment Consultancy, advising clients from UNICEF to Kettle Foods INNOVATOR

When did you realise that it was time to take action? A few days before International Women’s Day 2013 (8 March), I got feedback from a professor saying that I should abandon the idea of Lensational as he thought it wouldn’t go anywhere. I thought that he was right. However, on Women’s Day, I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed and found inspiring stories of ordinary people doing things to achieve gender equality. I saw a graphic with three women and the African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ For me, that was a moment of enlightenment.

Why is it important to be socially committed? Because of urgent issues confronting humanity, from climate change to gender inequality – and it is up to our generation to do something. Starting and scaling a new social initiative has never been so easy. In social entrepreneurship, you can take risks and define new paradigms that you couldn’t do within a predefined structure. Any advice on how to go about setting up a socially impactful project? Consider what makes you feel sad, angry and excited. Thinking critically about those three emotions helps you find your sense of purpose.


Sade’s venture addresses the lack of social mobility and diversity in leadership roles for young people

Sade Brown 25 United Kingdom

There’s a saying: ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ After too many sour lemons in life, Sade created London-based social enterprise Sour Lemons, offering leadership training programmes for disadvantaged young people


What was the first step towards turning your idea into reality? Back in 2016, I decided to talk to people and see if they thought my idea would work. I went through my address list and asked myself who had been inspirational to me in my career, who had helped me, and who would truly believe in my venture. Then I arranged to meet up with those people. I started out with an idea but didn’t know how the final product would turn out. Usually, people come up with the product first and then get people on board. But I was doing it in reverse, which actually helped me a lot.

What’s your best advice for someone who’d like to create something impactful? If you truly believe in something, go and push it. But in order to do so, you need a strong support network. I met a lot of my partners, trustees and supporters through the most random experiences, such as meeting them on buses or tubes. I believe that if you’re truly passionate about something, it shows. So – be interested in people, while being interesting yourself. What was the best advice you were given by a mentor? ‘Own your narrative.’ Don’t tell the story that you think people want to hear. When I first started out and was visiting institutions, I thought that I had to talk and dress a certain way. Then I realised I was stripping away my cultural identity. I understand now that it’s my diversity that makes me brilliant. INNOVATOR

Starting his app as a project at university in 2016, Zafer’s app has become a learning tool for over 30,000 children with special needs

Where did you find the courage to start a business at the young age of 21? When I first started out, I didn’t do it for the sake of creating a business, I felt a strong desire to help my brother. Only then did I realise my idea had great potential to help others – Otsimo grew organically into a business. Our mission now is to democratise special education with the help of technology.

Zafer Elçik 23 Turkey

When Zafer noticed the only thing that captured his autistic brother’s attention for any time was his smartphone, he built a gaming app, hoping to enhance his brother’s cognitive skills. His project is now Otsimo, a free, Turkey-based educational gaming app, helping more than 30,000 children with learning disorders and special needs to improve cognitive learning INNOVATOR

Any useful advice for someone who’d like to build a social enterprise? Setting up a project with social impact is definitely not easy – actually, I think it is twice as hard as building a ‘normal’ business or an NGO. You are creating something that needs to have an effect on lots of lives and be accessible, plus you have to find a viable business model for it. My advice is to focus on the impact first but to not lose sight of the business model. How has Otsimo changed you on a personal level? It has changed me a lot. I’ve become more grounded and more empathetic towards others – not only towards autistic children or those with special needs, but I’ve become more sensitive to everyone. I think everything should start with empathy.


Creating a business with a purpose was Thato’s dream: her durable schoolbags are repurposed from plastic bags

Thato 24 Kgatlhanye South Africa Thato founded SouthAfrica based social enterprise Rethaka, which focuses on sustainable manufacturing and waste management. Her Repurpose Schoolbags, made from recycled plastic bags and fitted with a solar panel, help children to stay safe on their way home from school and study at night. Recognised for its innovation by Bill Gates, the project has earned awards such as the ELLE International Impact Award and the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award


How did Red Bull Amaphiko contribute to the success of your project? It has been a key partner, especially from a storytelling point of view. I think the important role that Red Bull Amaphiko has played is being able to give us a platform where the story can be shared and where people can make meaningful connections with the work we do, whether it’s being inspired by it or whether it’s triggering people to think about how they can be active citizens. Was there a moment – an epiphany – that made you realise that it was time to act? I got to a point in my life where I had to decide on a career. The way I was thinking was: ‘Can I build a business that serves people while being profitable, and with profit coming as a consequence of doing good?’ That has been the driver of why I’m in this kind of work. It was not necessarily an epiphany but I felt a need to build a new breed of business, where we can see how our work serves people while we are also serving the business itself.

If you could start again, what would you do differently? I wouldn’t Say I’d do anything differently, but when you declare that you are going to change the world, the most important thing is to frame your vision in your own way and define what making a difference is to you. Sometimes, that’s not going to align with other people’s versions. I would have it down to clearly defining the impact you want to make and how you plan to make that difference. Then you can go out and make sure that everything you do aligns with that vision. INNOVATOR

Aditya dropped out of Stanford University to build an app that helps farmers sell their produce

Aditya Agarwalla 24


Two years ago, Aditya dropped out of university, hoping to revolutionise the Indian agricultural market. Back in New Delhi and with support from Y-Combinator, he built Kisan Network, an online marketplace that connects small farmers with businesses across India via an app. By looking after their supply chains, Aditya, who is one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, helps farmers sell their produce directly by cutting out middlemen who would traditionally set unfair prices INNOVATOR

You were 22 when you founded Kisan Network – where did you find the courage to start a business at such a young age? When I was thinking about leaving school halfway through, there was an important question which I approached peers and parents with: ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ Usually, whenever you’re trying to evaluate the pros and cons of a decision, you ask yourself, ‘What’s the best thing that could happen?’ However, when you’re young, the stakes are pretty low. If you can get by financially and take care of yourself, then the next question is, ‘Is there anything else that I’m worried about happening?’ I couldn’t come up with anything that was scaring me. I took the attitude that you have to take the plunge and if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to what you were doing before.

Once you’ve achieved something, do you celebrate your success or do you move straight on to the next thing? That’s something I struggle with a lot. When you start from zero, you’re always trying to grow. Even when we wrap up a good quarter, my mind is already on the next issue, which is how it should be. I think it’s important to take some time off to be happy without allowing yourself to get too content. It would be fatal if at any stage you thought that what you had done was enough. As a founder, you end up spending a lot of time analysing and figuring out where you went wrong, so we owe it to ourselves to do the same when we do something right.


The Flybot, a lowcost drone to carry out critical missions, is only one of Mihir’s technical inventions

Mihir 18 Garimella United States Mihir likes building things – by this he means autonomous drones which are used to solve real-life problems, such as inspecting nuclear power plants for leakages. His FlyBot, a tiny, low-cost robot, flies into dangerous spaces to carry out missions without a pilot. Winning the 2014 Google Science Award for his work, the Stanford Unviersity student continues to work on tech solutions that make an impact 64

What does it take to make an impact? The cool thing about living in 2018 is that it’s easier than ever to gain access to people and information – and ultimately to start a project. So, a high-school kid like me from Pittsburgh can access anybody on the planet. The real barrier is coming up with a good idea. How do you come up with a good idea? I don’t think my path was necessarily the best one, because I started with a solution and got lucky in that it roughly solved problems that real people were facing. I’d say there are two approaches: one is what I did, to

build stuff because you think it’s cool, and the other one is to focus on the impact and be mindful of the bigger picture. But I think the better way to do it is to travel around the world and be active. It’s very easy to go about our lives, passively thinking that things are relatively good, but it’s a lot more helpful and impactful if you understand that the world is as good as it is today because people in the past have identified problems and worked hard to solve them. Things are still not perfect so there’s work to do. What’s the biggest problem our world is facing now? Inequality of life. To give you an example, my grandparents live in India and there are so many people with no place to live, or access to clean drinking water or food. Thanks to technology, things are pretty good in certain parts of the world, but that’s not broadly true. All the technology we have and all the innovations can make it feel as if we live in a special time and that the world is good, but that’s not true for everybody. I think the biggest problem is that this gap is increasing. INNOVATOR

Changemakers are everywhere if you know where to look.

Ashoka does. Discover Ashoka’s worldwide network. For 35 years, Ashoka has found exceptional innovators and supported them to grow their ideas into transformative social progress. This year’s Ashoka Fellows come from over 60 countries and join our living lab of 3,500 Fellows who are lifelong innovators for the public, collaborating with partners in business and civil society to advance new ideas. Together, they inspire a brighter future: one where each of us looks inside ourselves and sees a changemaker.

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What started as a therapeutic hobby has become a successful business for Ariane Santos

Making waste notable Badu Design transforms textiles from landfill into sustainable products. But that’s not all. With her business, founder Ariane Santos generates income for socially vulnerable people


When she fell into depression after the loss of her grandmother, – Ariane Santos cared for her during her last two years – the social entrepreneur decided she needed to do something for herself, to rebuild her life. Picking up her former college hobby, making fabric covered notebooks, felt like a form of therapy. It helped her to focus and feel calm. As an experiment, Ariane took ten of her notebooks to a local stationery shop and asked if they could sell them. To her surprise, they sold out in record time. That’s when Ariane,

a fellow at the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy 2017 in São Paulo, realised she could convert her personal trauma into a business opportunity, so she set up Badu Design. Relying on the knowledge she had acquired while working at a non-profit organisation in her home town of Curitiba, south of Brazil, and for a company’s marketing department, she looked into ways of helping her start-up become more professional. The first step was to teach three women how to make notebooks and other handmade INNOVATOR




Create opportunities

items. After running out of cash to continue production, Ariane resorted to scraps and textile waste; this would soon become the most important asset in her project. Every year, 170,000 tons of textile waste is disposed of in Brazil, of which only 36,000 actually gets recycled. According to Ariane: “Companies do not know what to do with textile waste. I mentioned to a reporter that I was only working with waste and several companies called me to offer their leftovers.” Today, 51 people work for Ariane’s start-up. Among them are many mothers of autistic children, immigrants and refugees. Asked for the reason, she feels it’s crucial to incorporate this social aspect into her business. The 39-year-old says that she can relate to their struggle because she also felt excluded from society when she had to nurse her grandmother. This kept her from being able to hold down a job and have a normal life. “My professional challenge is to raise awareness and value textile waste,” Ariane says. “But above all, I want to empower those we train and work with.” INNOVATOR

PEOPLE POWER The start-up has brought about positive change to the lives of vulnerable people. Ariane also runs art and craft workshops and has held personal empowerment sessions, too

On her epiphany, Ariane says, “A lady arrived at our office with a patchwork bag full of offcuts and asked if we wanted to use the material. I thought ‘wait, if a seamstress generates this volume of material in a week, how much does the industry generate?’ I did some research and was amazed by how much is wasted. Always follow up on those chance moments.”

LANYARD FROM TEXTILE WASTE Originally produced for Red Bull Amaphiko, the woven textile lanyard can be used as a necklace, hair accessory, luggage handle or... whatever you like. The lanyards were made by one of Badu Design’s art therapy groups for mothers




How to change the world with a crazy idea Last August, two brothers set out to paddle down the world’s most polluted river in Java, equipped with only a camera and two kayaks made out of plastic bottles. Indonesia’s president was so impressed by their venture that he vowed to clean up the river


Not only bottles and plastic bags but dead animals were also found polluting the river, which is a source of drinking water for up to 15 million people

through the project’s five most crucial steps, revealing how you can change a whole country’s mindset with a simple campaign.

1. Think Big

Growing up in Bali, Indonesia, Gary Bencheghib, 23, and his brother Sam, 20, became aware of the ocean’s plastic problem first hand. “As kids, we would go surfing and find ourselves paddling in a sea of plastic,” he says. “So we started cleaning our local beaches on a weekly basis.” Last August, the Bencheghibs took their passion for environmentalism to a new level. They paddled down the world’s most polluted river, the Citarum, on Bali’s neighbouring island of Java. Their kayaks were made of plastic bottles and they documented their twoweek trip to raise awareness of the issue. Their plan worked. After their videos went viral, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo contacted them and publicly promised get the water of the Citarum drinkable within seven years. Here, Gary Bencheghib, now a filmmaker in New York, talks us

“In the summer of 2016, we went down the Mississippi River in a boat made from recycled materials to increase awareness of the micro plastics problem. Then we found out about the Citarum and decided to do a similar trip. Our parents were really against it, obviously, because of the highly toxic chemicals in the water. But they couldn’t stop us. When it comes to the environment, you have to think big. No idea is too crazy, we’re running out of time. In 2050, there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean and more than 80 per cent of it comes from rivers and streams. The goal of our campaign was to make people understand that we have to stop plastic waste at the source, before it gets out into the open sea.”

2. Find Allies

“If you do a project outside familiar territory, make sure to arrive prepared. Although we grew up in Indonesia, we’re still two white expats. Since we didn’t want to be intruders, we reached out INNOVATOR


Sam Bencheghib, 20, (left) and his brother Gary, 23, made their kayaks from bottles taken from the Citarum river



The kayaks attracted a lot of attention from those who live on the banks of the river. The YouTube videos of their journey quickly went viral




to local environmental organisations and the amount of support they offered us was overwhelming. They helped with all the official permission we needed, they gave us tips on how to protect ourselves (we’d use ethyl alcohol constantly to wash ourselves) and suggested where we could sleep (we stayed at people’s houses along the river). Finding allies before actually setting out on an expedition is absolutely crucial.”

3. Spread Positivity

Gary documented the journey: the brothers took their message to those who live by the river, visiting schools and communities


“Our videos are always solution oriented. People want to be inspired, everyone’s tired of seeing so much negativity on social media, so focusing on the positive element is always a winner. For one video, I followed a friend wearing every single piece of trash he created on his body for a month. That project got 250 million views, more than the season finale of Breaking Bad. This was a huge eye-opener – to see the power of social media – but also the power of creating unusual content. The idea of using kayaks made out of plastic bottles to paddle down the world’s most polluted river was all about coming up with new angles to tackle old problems. If you create content for your project, make sure to focus on the positive and don’t point fingers.”

4. Get the Message Out

“Indonesia is one of the top five social media markets in the world. That alone helped our campaign a lot. Our videos went viral on Facebook and via WhatsApp groups instantly. It went from two 70



Before the project started, the brothers took exploratory trips down the river with wellies and masks. Gary developed a sinus infection for a couple of months from breathing the toxic fumes

The kayaks were made from water bottles on a frame of bamboo

Drone footage shows the extent of the problem: waste has gathered here since the 1980s, eventually flowing out to sea and contributing to ocean pollution

guys going down this river to a national discussion. Two weeks after our expedition, I got a message from the Indonesian minister of the environment to discuss an emergency clean-up plan. Not long after, president Joko Widodo offered us an interview in which – oncamera – he promised to clean up the river within seven years and make the water drinkable again. I’m so pleased to see that, as a result of our simple idea, the whole country, including the military and several NGOs, has come together, taking pride in the clean-up process.”

5. Be Persistent

“To ensure that the Indonesian government goes INNOVATOR

through with the clean-up plan, we’re involved in the documentation of the project. Our two-week awareness campaign has now turned into a seven-year job for the two of us, working with the Indonesian authorities to monitor what’s going on. We also need to keep on pushing so they don’t lose interest. We want to launch local projects on waste management, on how to turn plastic found in the river into valuable items. On the surface, the project might seem to be a done deal now we have the president’s promise of commitment, but in fact, it’s only the beginning. Because if you persist, one adventure inspires the next.” Follow the Bencheghib brothers’ projects on







Massimo Bottura, voted the number one chef in the world in 2016, is on a social mission: he turns food waste into three-course meals and serves them for free to society’s most vulnerable members. We visited the Italian’s community kitchen in London WORDS BY RUTH MORGAN

Food for the soul He may be a famous chef but Massimo Bottura is also the name behind a global enterprise to save waste and feed the vulnerable




t lunchtime on a drizzly Tuesday in the London borough of Kensington, a young opera singer stands on stage. She’s about to sing a number from L’Italiana in Algeri about a woman, Isabella, who finds herself shipwrecked and surrounded by pirates – but, the singer says, with a knowing smile, Isabella is certain she can tame these men. Amid warm laughter from the mostly male audience, she begins to sing, flooding the large, beautifully decorated hall with music. Diners continue to eat as they listen while waitresses scurry between the tables, clearing plates, refilling water jugs; a delicious smell of cooking permeates the air. This isn’t a scene from a westLondon restaurant; it’s an average day at Refettorio Felix, a unique community project that’s giving some of the most vulnerable people in this area access to free or heavilysubsidised, quality meals. What’s even more surprising is that the produce that makes up their threecourse lunches would otherwise be thrown away. Refettorio Felix is a neat solution to the interlinking problems of food waste, food insecurity and social inclusion, replacing the preconceptions these issues often conjure – discarded leftovers, long queues, run-down surroundings – with a much more modern vision. One that doesn’t scrimp on quality, dignity or – to use a favourite word of the Italian behind all this – beauty. Three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura founded not-for-profit organisation Food for Soul in 2016, to


combat some shocking stats: one third of all food we produce is wasted, and around 815 million people worldwide are affected by food insecurity. As a giant in the restaurant industry, Massimo decided to do something about it. He felt passionate enough to have ‘No more excuses’ tattooed on his right arm. The 55-year-old chef from Modena has made it his mission to challenge the ease with which we discard things – whether that’s produce, places or even people. How? “[By making] something valuable out of something that might be seen as having no value at all.” Massimo’s Refettorio network, funded by private donations and corporate partners, now has permanent bases in Milan, Rio, Paris and here in London, and adds value to food destined for the dustbin. He enlists the help of culinary greats to work as guest chefs in the Refettorios (which means ‘refectory’ in Italian, chosen for its link to the Latin meaning ‘to restore’) and create delicious dishes. But food is only part of the story. The Refettorios are set up in spaces rescued from closure or neglect. In Milan, for example, Refettorio Ambrosiano is housed in an abandoned theatre, now repurposed. It’s linked to the third element in the chef’s vision: Italian hospitality. It encourages those experiencing food insecurity – the homeless, the elderly, refugees, those with mental health problems – to sit down and enjoy a meal served to them at their table, in beautiful surroundings. “The gesture of sitting down to a meal and breaking bread together,” says Massimo, “is the first step towards rebuilding dignity and creating community.” When Refettorio Felix launched in June 2017, for six weeks a culinary giant such as Michel Roux Jr or Alain Ducasse took over the small kitchen here every day. Now a guest chef comes in once every two or three

“The gesture of sitting down to a meal and breaking bread together is the first step towards rebuilding dignity” INNOVATOR


Appreciative lunchtime diners greet and applaud Massimo at the Refettorio Ambrosiana, a project set up in the Greco area of Milan

Climate change has had a marked effect Sonam on life Wangchuk for has been farmers an instrumental in the force in the Ladakh creation region of the ice stupa


From left: sous chef Takahiko Kondo, Massimo and helpers celebrate after their first service at Refettorio Felix

weeks to take on the culinary challenge of creating a three-course lunch from whatever produce gets dropped off by surplus food charity The Felix Project. “Chefs keep coming,” says Zoe McIntyre, Refettorio Felix’s Network and Events Coordinator. “Brett Graham from (two Michelin-star London restaurant) The Ledbury, comes every month or sends some of his team. He likes it here as you can see the direct impact of your skill. Chefs are used to having very high-quality ingredients, ordered to fit their requirements. It’s an eye-opener for them.” The term ‘food waste’, Zoe says, often creates visions of ‘carrot ends, leftovers’. But the produce – donated by supermarkets and cafes – is high quality. “It blew me away,” says Faith MacArthur, owner of Eat, a café chain with more than 200 UK outlets, who volunteers in the kitchen. “We get free-range, grass-fed, rare-breed pork, foraged wild garlic… I forget we’re dealing with food waste.” When guest chefs aren’t in the kitchen, it’s the turn of regular chefs Clio Melvin and Naseem Khalifa. As it’s a drop-in centre, the chefs never know how many people they’ll be feeding. They cater for 60, but that can rise to 100. Today they look busy but calm as they move around each other in a well-practised dance. Clio wipes down each plate with a pristine white cloth before it goes out, just as a chef would in a Michelin-star kitchen. “I love using surplus waste – it allows us to be really creative,” says Clio, a fresh-faced 30-year-old who has been here since shortly after the Refettorio opened. “I love the atmosphere, the people. The van arrives at 7.30am and we have to make something from nothing.” Clio describes the day a woman turned up with ‘loads of unplucked pheasants’, presenting the chefs with a test in the three hours they had to create a meal. “No two days are the same,” she says. “I hope this is the future of catering. Restaurants waste so much food. Chefs who have cooked here have learned something to take back to their kitchens.” Today’s menu consists of vegetable broth, followed by either fish pie or aubergine and carrot patties with seasonal vegetables, then poached apples, vanilla ice cream and toasted muffin crumbs. The Refettorio’s main hall is buzzing – around 60 people have come to eat. Four local elderly 75

Climate change has had a marked effect on life for farmers in the Ladakh region


Chefs and assistants love the challenge of producing highquality meals from whatever ingredients have been provided by food charities on any given day



women sit, laughing loudly. There are several lone men, some with large backpacks and roll-mats, reading newspapers. Several strike up conversations as they eat – discussing the food or the latest royal baby. The homeless make up around 60 per cent of the centre’s visitors, alongside those with mental health issues and the elderly. “The idea is to have a mix of people,” says Zoe. “The older women have a good effect on some of the rough sleeping men. And the positive feel of this beautiful environment is so evident.” St Cuthbert’s has operated as a drop-in centre for over 25 years, and still offers amenities such as showers and computers. But what was a rundown church hall is unrecognisable to those who knew it before Food for Soul partnered with British interior designer Ilse Crawford, designer of New York’s Soho House. The ninemetre-high ceiling of this church hall is now adorned with oversized lampshades hung at different heights, casting the room in soft yellow light. The walls and ceiling are painted a cornflower blue that makes the lofty

The interior at London’s Refettorio is a welcoming, open and light-filled space

space feel cosy. There are plants, and a soft seating area which adds to the homely feel. “The transformation was incredible,” says Operations Manager Nick Haines, who’s worked here for 16 years. “It was dowdy and dusty. Now it’s a vibrant, positive place to be.” Everyone here today seems good natured, thanking the waiting staff as they’re served. Paddy Navin, an INNOVATOR

“There’s always happiness in the room. I love the idea that food isn’t just fuel but a joyful thing to be shared”

exuberant actress who volunteers here every week, glides between the tables. “I know what I’m doing – us actresses have spent so long waitressing!” she laughs. “I love it here. There’s something magical about it. And something lovely about serving someone, offering a choice. It’s respectful.” There are two other waitresses volunteering today, Molly Tait-Hyland, a journalist and history student, and Valerie Carde, a French resident who lives close by. All are regulars now. “There’s always happiness in the room,” says Molly. “That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I love the idea here that food isn’t just fuel but a joyful thing to be shared. I really feel the care the chefs take over the meals. People enjoy it. You see a lot of the same people every week.” One such regular is affable octogenarian Owen Murphy. “Here, even if people are down on their luck, they have a good attitude,” he says. “And I imagine that’s thanks to the surroundings. I live on my own and this is a great place to socialise. Because I cook for myself, it’s also a sensible idea nutrition-wise to eat one hot meal that’s prepared for me every week. It makes such a difference to know I can come here.” Towards the end of lunch, the opera singer – a volunteer – is singing Happy Birthday to a grinning, elderly woman named Jenny. Staff and volunteers watch as they sit and eat together. Today has been another success in a long line of successes. Worldwide, the Food for Soul project has already saved more than 45 tonnes of food, and served 450,000 dishes to over 150,000 people. Refettorio sites in the US will be announced later this year, and more will follow. The model is clearly needed – not only because of its effectiveness in combatting food waste and food insecurity, but for its dignified, holistic approach. “The art, design and architecture are as key to the project as the best chefs,” Massimo told “People don’t live from just bread alone, they live for something much deeper.” Donating £10 helps Refettorio offer a vulnerable person: breakfast, a warm three-course lunch, a shower, clean clothes and dedicated therapeutic support to help them get back on their feet. You can donate via the website


South Africa is a hotbed of social entrepreneurship

South Spotlight on

Meet eight of the country’s most impressive trailblazers who tackle






Africa problems in their communities with simple but genius ideas WORDS BY ROFHIWA MANETA



Intro South Africa has always been a country inspired by hope. Since 1994 – when former ANC president Nelson Mandela ushered in the rainbow nation – the country has been one that’s dedicated to change. Its entrepreneurs are no different. A recent study revealed that just under a million South Africans ‘are involved with a social entrepreneurship activity in the start-up phase’. This isn’t surprising. The country’s social landscape calls for a different kind of entrepreneur. According to statistics, South Africa has an unemployment rate of 26.7 per cent, ranking 14th in the list of countries with the highest unemployment rates in the world. It also ranks as one of the most dangerous countries to live in. Add an increasing inequality gap into the mix and you have, on paper, what seems to be a country on the brink of collapse. But where others see problems, these changemakers see solutions and, slowly but surely, socially focused entrepreneurship is becoming the norm. This is why Red Bull Amaphiko set up its very first Academy in Cape Town in 2014. The platform hosts a ten-day programme that mentors and offers business support to 16 social entrepreneurs every two years. Red Bull Amaphiko has unearthed and supports some of the country’s most promising and innovative changemakers. Here are eight entrepreneurs tackling some of the country’s biggest issues




Zakheni Ngubo

Renshia Manuel

Syafunda, Johannesburg

GrowBox, Cape Town

Meet the young innovator who’s working on revolutionising South Africa’s school system

What started as a back-yard garden for Renshia Manuel has now blossomed into a full-on business, tackling food insecurity in South Africa

A 2016 study shows that over 40 per cent of students in South Africa drop out before finishing high school. Johannesburg-based social entrepreneur Zakheni Ngubo is on a mission to change this. In 2002, when he was 17 and in Grade 11, his maths teacher fell ill and wasn’t replaced. His struggle mirrors that of millions of students across the country. His social enterprise, Syafunda, partners with teachers to make easy-tounderstand digital content (videos, e-books, past exam papers and online textbooks) for high-school students. “We’ve installed servers with a one-kilometre radius around schools and libraries across the country. Anyone within the radius can download free educational material. You don’t need the internet or data, just a phone with WiFi capability,” says Zakheni. The portal currently offers maths, science, financial literacy and IT study material. Students can also take online tests, the results of which are captured by the website and the information used to pair them with a university bursary programme. Since founding the business in 2014, Syafunda has reached more than 80,000 students, according to Zhakheni. “We’re in 71 schools but that number could rise to 150 by the end of the year.”


When Renshia Manuel lost her job as a librarian in 2014, she started growing vegetables in her garden to feed her four kids. She soon realised she was onto something. Her home town, Hanover Park, is a densely populated township blighted by gangs, and the majority of her community has no access to land to grow their own food. GrowBox (Renshia’s social enterprise) “provides food security by teaching people how to grow their own food,” she says. The GrowBox is a small wooden box that comes with vegetable seedlings, compost and gardening tools. It allows people in cramped or overpopulated conditions to grow their own food – an invaluable skill considering that more than 30 million people in the country live below the poverty line and can’t afford to buy food every day. Renshia works with exoffenders and recovering drug addicts at a nearby halfway house to help build the grow boxes and also

Above The boxes are made by locals, giving work to those living in a halfway house Below Renshia is delighted to expand her business and help more of the community

sells vegetable seedlings and fresh produce to private companies and farmers. To date, she’s taught 168 people how to cultivate their grow box and that number is set to increase now that she’s secured a piece of land to run the business from. “Running GrowBox from my home has been frustrating,” she says. “I’m glad we’re expanding now. We will be able to reach more people.” 81

Palesa Mahlatji

Wandisile Nqeketho

Yakh’iphupha, Eastern Cape

18 Gangster Museum, Cape Town

Palesa Mahlatji offers computer skills and access to technology to underresourced communities

18 Gangster Museum is a pop-up museum that teams up with ex-offenders to de-glamourise gang life

When Palesa Mahlatji finished high school and started looking for a college, she was presented with a problem. “I finished matriculation [12th grade] and started looking for a job because I couldn’t afford to study,” says Palesa. “I took my CV to companies and was told to email it instead. The problem was, I couldn’t use a computer. I’d never used one in my life: we didn’t have one at home or at school. It got me thinking: ‘how many people lose out on potential jobs or opportunities because of this problem?’” As it stands, over 400 schools in the Eastern Cape are classified as mud schools – mud shacks with no proper infrastructure. Palesa aimed to find a solution. In 2015, she quit her job as a banker, sold her car and started Yakh’iphupha – a social enterprise that provides access to technology and computer skills to rural and semiurban communities. Palesa’s enterprise offers accredited courses in entrepreneurship and computer literacy. Palesa has trained over 800 people and works with five schools across the Eastern Cape (she hopes to reach 120 by the end of next year). She’s also developed a portable, solar-powered computer lab so she can now travel around her home town offering computer skills to those in need.


Above The museum has helped to take away the glamour of gang culture Left The exhibition is proving popular with locals and tourists alike

“I want to live in a gangfree society,” says social entrepreneur Wandisile Nqeketho. “I don’t want to live in a place where this is presented as a way of life to kids living in the townships.” Wandisile is the founder of 18 Gangster Museum – a social enterprise that collaborates with gangsters and ex-offenders. The museum is hosted inside a shipping container and features immersive text and videos. The tours are hosted by ex-offenders who give accounts about the realities and dangers of gang and prison life. To date, Wandisile says, 18 Gangster Museum has reformed 25

gangsters and has hosted eight exhibitions. “We had an ex-inmate give a talk. He’d been in prison for four years for armed robbery, theft and attempted murder but he’s turned his life around since his release. He’s now at university – his story serves as a cautionary tale.” Khayelitsha, where Wandisile lives, recorded 176 murders and 259 cases of attempted murder in 2017. Growing up in the township, the 28-year-old social entrepreneur says the threat of violence was always looming. He believes it’s everyone’s responsibility to curb the problem. “It shouldn’t just be left to the police,” says Wandisile. “If we can all do our part, our job will be done.” INNOVATOR


Zuko Mandlakazi

Murendeni Mafumo

Senso, Johannesburg

Kusini Water, Johannesburg

Senso is a device that uses vibration and light to help deaf people navigate the world

Meet the scientist who is utilising macadamia nut shells to solve South Africa’s water crisis

Above The clever Senso

Over five million South Africans don’t have access to clean drinking water. If Murendeni Mafumo has his way, that number will drop to zero in a few years. Scientist Murendeni is the founder of Kusini Water – a solar-powered water purification system that uses macadamia nuts to provide clean drinking water for rural communities. Here’s how it works.“We crush macadamia nuts and turn them into a paste,” Murendeni says. “Macadamia nut shells are a very fine material, finer than a strand of hair, and when you push water through this ‘paste’, it acts as a filter and separates the sediment from the water.” As for his business model, Murendeni works on what he calls a ‘one-for-one’ model. For every bottle of water he sells to a private business, another is given, free of charge, to someone

wristbands will help those struggling with hearing

Zuko Mandlakazi grew up in the Eastern Cape with an aunt who was hard of hearing. Each day, he’d see some of the struggles she’d go through and he often wondered how he could make the world easier to navigate for her. He would worry about what would become of her as she got older. What if a fire broke out? Would she be able to hear the alarm? This was the driving force that led him to develop Senso: a wristband that detects sounds using vibrations and LED, in order to alert users of sounds around them. “The user determines which sounds they need the alert for,” says Zuko. “So, for example, you could set the device to recognise the sound of your child crying and use pink as a colour to signify that. When the device picks up that sound, your wristband vibrates and INNOVATOR

the LEDs turn pink. But you can also use your Senso as a safety device. So if the alarm goes off and the device picks it up, it will notify you.” A prototype of the device has been made and Zuko hopes to start massproducing and selling it by August. But this project is about more than money for the softly spoken social entrepreneur. Zuko often tells the tale of three deaf pupils who died in a fire while asleep in their school hostel in 2015. If Senso can save even one life, he reckons he’s achieved something worthwhile.

Above Murendeni is bringing clean drinking water to rural communities with his ingenious filter

who can’t afford to buy one. In the last year alone, his social enterprise has donated close to 150,000 litres of water to over 3,000 families in the community of Vhembe, Limpopo. When he was a child growing up in rural Limpopo, Murendeni often used to see women collecting water from rivers. Ultimately, he’d like to see a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water. It’s a situation he’s slowly been working on, day by day, litre by litre.


Neo Hutiri

Selokong Sa Dimelana, Limpopo

Technovera, Pretoria

Meet the PR graduate who uses castor beans to make renewable, eco-friendly diesel

From three hours to thirty seconds – Neo Hutiri is using technology to cut waiting times for medication for chronic conditions

Above The oil is extracted from the caster beans; Thabang sees great potential for his idea Left Harvesting the castor beans; they contain oil which can be used for biodiesel and in cosmetics

Thabang Mabapa makes biodiesel out of castor beans. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. “I was introduced to castor beans when I was a kid,” says the Limpopo-based entrepreneur. “I was cleaning the yard at a local church and I remember pressing one and seeing the oil come out of it. I’ve been obsessed with the castor bean’s versatile oil ever since,” he says. In 2013, he founded Selokong Sa Dimelana (which means ‘a place where things grow’ in Sepedi): a social enterprise that harvests castor oil and uses it to produce biodiesel. The oil is an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels 84

and is said to prolong the lifespan of engines. He also produces castor oil that he sells to cosmetic companies, who sell it as a skin and hair care product. “We currently produce between eight and ten tons of castor oil per day to consumers and cosmetics companies and 200 litres of biodiesel to farmers to use as fuel for their tractors,” says Thabang. “We’re looking to expand and hope to supply oil companies and airlines soon.” Unlike petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel is a renewable energy source and is also less polluting. Thabang hopes one day the rest of the world catches on to its potential.

In 2014, Neo Hutiri contracted tuberculosis. For six months, he travelled to his local clinic to get his medication – a process that often left him frustrated. “Every month, I’d go there and spend up to three hours waiting in a queue for my medication. It was the most frustrating thing but it also introduced me to a problem faced by so many South Africans,” says the engineering graduate. This lead him to found Technovera – the start-up responsible for Pelebox: a smart locker that allows people with chronic medical conditions to collect their medication in minutes. The smart lockers are installed in clinics and once they’ve been loaded with medication, an SMS is sent to the patient with a onetime pin. “The patient goes to their locker and enters their ID number, mobile phone number and pin and, just like that, they get their medication,” says Neo. “In this way, a process that usually takes hours is cut

Above These smart lockers store medication supplies; patients enter details on their smartphone to retrieve the contents, with no waiting time

down to minutes.” Neo piloted the concept at a clinic in Mamelodi, Pretoria in 2016 and saw 3,500 patient collections as a result. The average collection time was 36 seconds. “No one should have to stand in a queue for most of the day in order to collect life-saving medicine,” says Neo. “I’ve actually set a target of 20,000 patient collections for this year but if we can help one person, we’ve done our job.” Read more about these entrepreneurs at



Thabang Mabapa




No ark needed





Flooding in the city of Franco da Rocha in the north of São Paulo state in March 2016

Every year, hundreds of families in São Paulo lose their homes due to floods and landslides. Pluvi.On aims to minimise such damage with a plastic box, which has proved to be more reliable than any weather report WORDS BY ISABEL DE BARROS




In the summer of 2017, São Paulo was hit by an average of one flood every three days, according to the city government’s Emergency Management Centre. Surveys prepared by the Brazilian Water Agency reveal that 47.5 per cent of Brazil’s cities declared a state of emergency because of the floods. More than 30 million Brazilians are affected by floods every year, according to reinsurer Swiss Re, which translates to losses amounting to £740 million. In turn, global figures spiked at 500 million people affected, equal to £11 billion in annual losses. The Pluvi.On team has been developing a pluviometer – a low-cost device that measures rainfall, in order to build a database with sufficient information to send out free flood alerts to people. “Our purpose is to 88

How does an idea turn into your life’s mission? According to the Pluvi.On crew, it’s about belief

The team (from left): Hugo Santos; Diogo Tolezano; Mariana Marcílio; Jessé Stenico, meteorologist; Pedro Godoy and Murilo Souza, financial officer

The open source version of the device at the Red Bull Basement Hatch in São Paulo



ow does a simple idea turn into your life’s mission? According to the Pluvi.On crew, it’s about belief. If you’re convinced that your idea can make a big impact for people in your neighbourhood, it might have the potential to create positive change on a global level. The idea that the engineers Diogo Tolezano, Pedro Godoy and Murilo Souza, product designer Mariana Marcilio and data scientist Hugo Santos tackled was the issue of floods in their home town of São Paulo, Brazil, and it soon became their mission in life. They created a simple device – one that looks a bit like a toy but is capable of saving the lives of thousands.

send out safety alerts and manage to reduce losses – both in terms of lives and financially, too,” says Diogo. The city of São Paulo is already using pluviometers but they are expensive, and there’s far too few of them. According to Pedro, “The system needs a certain amount of data to send out accurate alerts instead of chaos, and this data is still unavailable. When we first started doing research back in 2016, we found out there were only 120 pluviometers installed in São Paulo.” Brazil’s largest city is the financial capital of Latin America, with a population of more than 12 million people and 32 neighbourhoods. This means that there was one meter per 100,000 people. Today, Pluvi.On estimates São Paulo needs one thousand meters to produce accurate information every ten to 20 blocks,

equal to 31 pluviometers per neighbourhood or one per 12,000 people. More devices available to measure rainfall means better information and more accurate alerts. “Floods happen every summer in São Paulo – everyone who lives here knows that,” says Diogo, who has already lost a car during a flood. “Lack of information, however, is not exclusive to Brazil but a global issue. There is very little awareness about flood warnings because results take time – it’s a long-term project.” Back in 2016, Diogo, Pedro and Murilo got together after meeting at a consulting company focused on management and company processes. They were looking for more than a regular job and wanted something with real purpose, something that was affecting society. During a course on futurism, the trio learned about the Japanese organisation Safecast, which openly measures and shares information on nuclear radiation. Thanks to the project, the organisation managed to map radioactivity in Japan over three months, and prove how such information was needed. “The government even issued an apology to the people at the time,” says Pedro. “The case inspired us to reflect on Brazil’s situation and find where similar information was needed,” Diogo adds. Brazil’s worst water crisis, which began in 2014, was coming to an end at this point and water seemed to be the trending topic, especially because São Paulo suffered the consequences. The team conducted a study and discovered the principle issues they needed to address: lack of information and urban floods. The trio also learned that if their idea was to send out alerts, it would be necessary to gather information and save it in a network. This was why the pluviometer was designed. The first homemade station was laser-cut from a piece of old packaging, with a funnel made from a plastic bottle and stuck together with hot glue. The prototype was then developed during the Red Bull Basement programme (see next page), made from laser-cut acrylic, operating on WiFi. The device was capable of measuring rain, temperature and humidity, in addition to being low cost – £37 each



This empowering programme gives the innovators of social enterprises the opportunity to share, develop and realise their vision. For Pluvi.On, Basement was the perfect springboard to making their venture happen…

Pluvi.On participated in Red Bull Basement, organised in Brazil in 2015, and a project soon to be expanded to 23 other countries. The programme seeks out ambitious projects at production level and uses technology to offer smart yet human solutions for large cities. Ideas which make urban areas more inclusive and accessible, as most of the world’s population is concentrated in cities. Once chosen to participate in the Basement programme, the start-up receives a hacker residence, including access to a makerspace with free workshops and monthly talks. Red Bull Basement not only boosts innovative ideas but also opens up room for 90

debate on solutions and projects, exploring the creative use of technology to tackle urban issues. “Mentoring is the main contribution we bring to the hackers,” says Samuel Barreto, who heads the global implementation strategy for the Basement programme. Adds company partner Diogo Tolezano: “The Pluvi.On prototype was developed during the programme – we completed the process ready to hit the market.” Samuel sums it up: “Basement stands out, thanks to its technologybased approach.”

As the project evolved, it became necessary to validate the meter – until then, the team had only informally installed the devices. The first real test took place in Lapa, in the north of São Paulo, at the request of the district government. “The district mayor gave us the opportunity, we obtained the permits and installed 30 acrylic stations in the neighbourhood,” says Diogo. It was at a meeting with city government officials from different areas, ranging from transportation to energy, that Diogo and his partners realised the impact Pluvi.On could have on people, cities and governments. Meanwhile, the Climatempo, one of Brazil’s leading weather companies, took an interest in the project. With the backing of such an influential name, it was time for Pluvi.On to go on the attack. In 2017, 90 pluviometers were installed in São Paulo – practically one per district. The Pluvi.On team switched their focus to business after receiving buyout proposals. Catering to market needs called for the development of new rainfall measuring stations, now made with plastic and therefore more easily scalable. The current device measures rainfall volume and intensity, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, plus solar radiation. The device still costs six times less than a similar model. There are now 15 people working for Pluvi.On, providing services to the Port of Salvador and to large companies in the energy, agriculture and transport industries. Thanks to a network of sensors installed where needed, Pluvi.On monitors weather factors and understands how each company is affected by conditions. The team’s target is to close 2018 with INNOVATOR


Red Bull Basement

– six times less than a similar model. The pluviometer captured water in a bucket, divided into two parts, working in a see-saw motion. When the rainwater filled one side of the bucket, its own weight caused the bucket to turn, releasing the water accumulated inside the equipment and revealing the other side for collection purposes. The Pluvi.On system recorded rainfall whenever the movement occurred, to then calculate the probability of a flood in any given region, based on data from an integrated network of pluviometers.

They dream of installing 15,000 pluviometers throughout Brazil’s cities with the largest populations

a turnover of £740,000. The company expects to have over 1,000 clients within five years with turnover exceeding 1,500 per cent. Pedro installing a pluviometer in São Paulo as part of a pilot scheme. The device monitors the climate in real time

The open-source pluviometer is fixed in place

Pedro and Diogo with their invention at WeFab makerspace in São Paulo

It will be possible to send out a safe flood alert in São Paulo from 2021. “We have to monitor the upcoming rainy season and understand how we’ll carry out our work together with the city government agencies,” Diogo explains. Until then, Pluvi.On is working with real-time rain forecasts via São Pedro Bot, a chatbot that will notify its followers. According to its forecast, São Pedro Bot will have one million users in five years. Pluvi.On is working with specific company demands for the time being, which automatically increases its network of meters and information. “We’re dedicating 90 per cent of our time to companies and 10 per cent to the city population. The idea is to switch those numbers within five years,” says Diogo. The team dreams of installing 15,000 pluviometers throughout the cities of Brazil with the largest populations. Pluvi.On is conscious of the power of its product and is thinking globally. Adds Diogo: “We want to make cities and populations more resilient to climate shocks, which will be increasingly frequent from now on.”







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G Kevin Braddock is founder and editorin-chief of Torchlight System: Storytelling For Recovery. Previously he has worked as a writereditor for titles including GQ, The Face, Esquire and The Guardian



andhi didn’t actually say “be the change you want to see in the world”, but we could easily imagine him delivering an insight so simple and powerful that it’s been quoted on innumerable Instagram posts by wellness vloggers, yoga influencers and leadership gurus. The message rings true, especially so for social entrepreneurs who want to create positive impact in the world. But to do any of that, social entrepreneurs need to heed the Gandhi sentiment and look after themselves first. Because if we’re broken, the corner of world we want to change will stay broken too. Broken is perhaps too strong a word, but as the social conversation around mental health and illness is fast accelerating today, more and more of us are becoming aware that what goes on inside – the condition of our psychological and emotional interior – is one of the biggest (perhaps even the biggest) determinants of success on the outside. It’s estimated that one in four people will suffer from a mental illness at some point during their lives. According to the World Health Organisation, depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is £740 billion per year in lost productivity. And at the sharp end of these statistics, suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 (in the UK). Perhaps you’ve heard of someone suffering a burnout or breakdown, where they are overwhelmed

to the point of being unable to cope. Sadly, it’s no rare thing in the fast-paced and highly pressured start-up scene. If mental health – or more simply an absence of or the prevention against, mental illness – is a genuine concern for everyone these days, it is especially so for social entrepreneurs; we’re highly motivated, purpose-led people whose ability to put others first might mean risking our own wellbeing. I say all this because the publishing project I launched in 2017 – Torchlight System: Storytelling For Recovery – is directly concerned with these issues of mental health and illness, and is a direct result of them. Backstory: in 2014, I suffered what’s called a ‘major depressive episode’ while living and working as a magazine editor in Berlin. This manifested in an intense phase of suicidal ideation – compulsively thinking about the whys and ways to do it – but in the end (and I’m never quite sure how) I did something else: I posted a message on Facebook saying ‘I need help’, and not long after, friends arrived, took me to a hospital where I was admitted as a patient, and began a long, slow recovery journey, which is still ongoing. Today Torchlight System offers things which help people talk about, live with and recover from issues such as depression and anxiety: there’s Torchlight, a memoir of this breakdown and recovery which talks in plain terms about the things that led to it (I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety since my early twenties). Its message is that these experiences are common today but that there is no shame in asking for help. And then there are the ‘Practice Cards’ which show suggestions for dealing with these issues: shuffle the pack, pick two cards, try to carry out at least one of these suggestions and build positive habits every day. Practice Cards are a way to make a game out of ‘getting better’ – or more accurately, living with these conditions. When I was starting to recover from this breakdown, I tried out a lot of different techniques, philosophies and practices, from tai chi and yoga to abstinence and stoicism by way of creativity and mindfulness, and Practice Cards are a way of randomising all of



Want to change the world? Start by changing yourself first



Social these resources. But the Practice bit is the most important: doing something for your mental health every day. However, we’re all aware that the world never stops turning, and life demands from us more attention, energy and initiative than ever. So what are some practical things we can do to stay well enough to create positive change? A few Practice Cards which seem relevant are: One day at a time: among the most

effective techniques for people recovering from a mental illness episode (or, especially, an addiction) is to crunch the vast eternity of time down into 24-hour units. Just do what matters today and repeat the same process tomorrow.

Find your own pace: charging along at

the prevailing pace of your peers and competitors is a guaranteed route to exhaustion unless you find time to move at a tempo which suits you. Switch off and wander a while; creating change is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Meditate: it hardly needs repeating that

meditation and mindfulness are very effective methods of decluttering the mind and returning to the present. But let’s repeat it anyway.

Together: is yours a solo mission? Then

Editor-in-Chief Alexander Macheck Deputy Editor-in-Chief Florian Obkircher Art Director Kasimir Reimann Photo Editors Eva Kerschbaum (photo director), Susie Forman, Tahira Mirza

Managing Editor Ulrich Corazza


Chief Sub-Editor Olivia Rosen

Red Bull Media House GmbH Oberst-Lepperdinger-Straße 11–15, A-5071 Wals bei Salzburg, FN 297115i, Landesgericht Salzburg, ATU63611700

Advisors Richard Loat, Emma Warren, Julia Willcox Design Marco Arcangeli, Marion Bernert-Thomann, Martina de Carvalho-Hutter, Kevin Goll, Carita Najewitz, Michael Nolan, Ute Schindler Illustrations Elke Bauer Contributors Isabel de Barros, Kevin Braddock, Sam Conniff Allende, Tom Guise, Waltraud Hable, Richard Loat, Rofhiwa Maneta, Ruth Morgan, Michelle Antoinette Nelson, Christina Rostworowski da Costa, Desmond Tumulty, Simant Verma, Emma Warren, Lea Wieser, Kieran Yates

General Manager and Publisher Andreas Kornhofer Directors Dietrich Mateschitz, Gerrit Meier, Dietmar Otti, Christopher Reindl Printer Prinovis GmbH & Co KG, Printing Company Nuremberg, 90ß471 Nuremberg, Germany

Global Project Management Melissa Stutz

Ask for help: if you feel like you’re

Global Head of Media Sales Gerhard Riedler


IT Systems Engineer Michael Thaler

Production Editor Marion Lukas-Wildmann

Country Management and Marketing Sara Varming (Ltg.), Magdalena Bonecker, Julia Gerber, Kristina Hummel

Of course, this ‘ask for help’ principle needn’t only apply to mental wellbeing. There’s a degree of humility in confessing a need for, say, assistance, advice or morale, but asking for help (and by the same token, offering it) reflects the giveand-take dynamic by which society functions, when it’s functioning well. And if you want to make it function even better? As Gandhi would have said – make sure you’re OK to begin with.

Office Management Kristina Krizmanic, Yvonne Tremmel

Global Editorial Office Heinrich-Collin-Straße 1, A-1140 Vienna Phone +43 1 90221-28800, Fax +43 1 90221-28809

beware of isolation. Invite collaboration and avoid doing all problem-solving in your own head. And lastly: struggling but you’re not sure why; if you have a constant feeling of being overwhelmed; if you feel ashamed and that you’re a failure… it may be time to ask for help. Start with the people closest to you and then go to your doctor.

Repro Clemens Ragotzky (manager), Claudia Heis, Nenad Isailovic, Maximilian Kment, Josef Mühlbacher

Head of Media Sales International Peter Strutz Head of Publishing Development and Product Management Stefan Ebner Head of Commercial Publishing Birgit Gasser Head of Creative Markus Kietreiber Commercial Design Peter Knehtl (manager), Sasha Bunch, Simone Fischer, Martina Maier Advertising Placement Andrea Tamás-Loprais Production Wolfgang Stecher (manager), Walter O. Sádaba, Friedrich Indich


Himalayan region’s superheroes




In the Buddhist monastic system, nuns are usually expected to take care of household chores and are not permitted to exercise. Ten years ago, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa changed the situation for women in his order. Inspired by his mother’s dedication to empower women, the leader of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa lineage encouraged them to take leadership positions and learn Kung Fu. The paradigm shift has had an impressive result at the Druk Gawa

Khilwa nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal, where each day, 350 nuns between the age of ten and 25 participate in intense training sessions, studying weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. In Himalayan regions, they’re known as the Kung Fu nuns – local superheroes, due to their social commitment. In 2015, instead of evacuating their home after the earthquake in Nepal, they gave firstaid assistance to villagers nearby. In 2016, they cycled from Kathmandu to Delhi (2,200 kilometres) to create awareness for ecological issues. They pass on their skills to girls in self-defence workshops, amid rising reports of sex crimes. “Some say we should just sit, pray and meditate,” said Jigme Wangchuk Lhamo, a 19-year-old Kung Fu nun, at a conference in London last November. “But a nun’s duty is more than that. We must better society and do good for others.”



These nuns are the





Profile for Red Bull Media House

The Red Bulletin Social Innovator 2018 - INT  

The Red Bulletin Social Innovator 2018 - INT