In a ceremony held at the prestigious Ecole Fédérale Polytechnique de Lausanne in Switzerland on October 11, watch-brand Rolex awarded five young entrepreneurs, aged between 18 and 30 years, the first Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Young Laureates Programme.
The Rolex Young Laureates (RYL) programme is an extension of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. The Young Laureates Programme was launched in January 2009 to honor young people with inventive ideas to solve tomorrow's challenges in different areas such as science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.
Present for this year's award ceremony were some of the world's foremost scientists, explorers, environmentalists, doctors and educators, who gathered to honor the first five winners. The venue being one of Europe's leading science and technology universities served as the ideal spot for the ceremony.
Our ultimate goal is to encourage an enterprising spirit among under-30s worldwide and to stimulate innovation in the region in order to help ensure a better future for the next generation, said Rebecca Irvin, head of the Rolex Institute, the company's philanthropic and educational arm.
The first five young Laureates included:
- Jacob Colker (United States) - He is trying to use his internet programme 'The Extraordinaries' to enable smartphone users to become volunteers by donating spare minutes to charitable, scientific and community organizations.
- Reese Fernandez (Philippines) - She established an innovation centre in order to assist impoverished women to earn a decent wage by creating 'eco-ethical, elegant' products.
- Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Nigeria) - He is working to develop an interactive, rural radio service to improve the lives of farmers in Nigeria.
- Piyush Tewari (India) - A graduate from the University of Delhi, Piyush is training a network of police officers and volunteers to provide rapid medical care to road accident victims in the city.
- Bruktawit Tigabu (Ethiopia) - She is trying to develop a health-education television programme for preschool children in Ethiopia.
Each of the five winners are entitled to receive US$50,000 within a span of two years to help them focus on their pioneering projects and take active steps in implementing them. The RYL programme will be held again in 2012 by the brand. Rolex has already begun accepting applications for the next programme on its website.