The Waislitz Global Citizen Awards recognize and support extraordinary individuals around the world for their work to end extreme poverty — and applications for the 2022 awards are now open.

The annual cash prize seeks to uplift people from around the world who are at the forefront of ending extreme poverty, with the awards and funding helping individuals further implement their advocacy efforts towards an end to extreme poverty and its systemic causes. 

Presented by the Waislitz Foundation and Global Citizen, with additional support from US- and Australia-based cellular medicines company Mesoblast, the 2022 awards will distribute $200,000 among three exceptional changemakers. 

“Ending extreme poverty is not a choice — it's an obligation,” said Alex Waislitz, chairman and founder of the Melbourne-based Waislitz Foundation. “My hope is that [the awards] will inspire many thousands of people around the world to do what they can to improve the living standards of those in dire need.”

Past winners include those revolutionizing access to education using technology and TV broadcasts; distributing birth kits and manufacturing PPE for frontline health care workers; reducing food spoilage with 100% solar powered walk-in cold rooms; and converting women-led food carts into mobile disinfectant units to help combat COVID-19.

This year, one grand prize winner will receive $100,000, with two additional prizes awarded at $50,000 each, for a total of three prizes.

The additional prizes for 2022 are the Waislitz Global Citizen Disruptor Award, given to the applicant who created measurable impact in an innovative manner that disrupts the systems that allow for extreme poverty to exist; and the Waislitz Global Citizens’ Choice Award, which is selected with input from public online voting by the Global Citizen community. The awards are open to individuals or individual representatives of organizations anywhere in the world working to end extreme poverty and its many causes and consequences. 

Waislitz Global Citizen Award winners of 2021 included: 

  • Bina Shrestha from Patan, Nepal — the Grand Prize winner of 2021 was the founder of Build Up Nepal, an organization that helps rural families build homes with environmentally-friendly materials and offers entrepreneurial opportunities to people in need for long-term income stability. Shrestha told Global Citizen she would be using the funding “to create more opportunities for each and every village” and to support existing entrepreneurs whose work was impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Tania Rosas, from Bogota, Colombia — winner of the Disruptor Award, Rosas has made education more accessible to young people in rural populations, particularly in the Indigenous and refugee communities of Colombia. She founded Fundación el Origen (Origin Learning Fund) to not only expand education but also to make it more effective in helping students learn, in part through using digital learning tools. 
  • Jimmy Pham, from Hanoi, Vietnam — winner of the Waislitz Global Citizens’ Choice Award was Pham, who’s spent years working with disadvantaged youth in Hanoi to give them employable skills to lift themselves out of poverty. His social enterprise Know One Teach One (KOTO) provides training in hospitality, life skills, English, and IT literacy, as well as board and welfare support. 
  • Dr. Abiodun Adereni, from Ibadan, Nigeria — winner of the COVID-19 Response Award was the founder and CEO of HelpMum, who works to provide pregnant women in rural areas with the resources they need to make childbirth safer. When COVID-19 hit, he created Nigeria’s first publicly available e-learning platform to train childbirth attendants and prevent cases of maternal mortality. 

These activists not only disrupted the status quo, but also served their communities in a crucial time of need.

The application process opens on April 28, 2022, and closes on May 29, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. 

All applicants will be judged upon their ability to excel in five key areas: global citizenship, proof of concept, disruption, scalability, and adaptability. 

First, applicants must demonstrate their ability to uphold the values of a Global Citizen, as outlined by the Global Citizen Manifesto

After that, applicants are asked to demonstrate a strong proof of context with one to two years of impact toward ending extreme poverty by the time of submission. 

For Haroon Yasin, co-founder of the organization Orenda, winning the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Award has been transformational in the growth journey of his organization. 

“When we received the award, we had reached over 200,000 children through our digital learning platform called Taleemabad,” he said. “Since then, we have used the additional financing to expand our presence onto broadcast television and state radio, and are reaching an additional 8.5 million children every week through these new verticals.”

The 2018 Waislitz Global Citizen Award winner, Koketso Moeti, saw the potential of cellphones to amplify the voices of poor women and hold the government accountable. Working to turn every cell phone into an active citizenship tool, Koketso founded which is now a movement of over 900,000 active citizens across South Africa who campaign against poverty.

Additionally, applicants will be judged on the way in which their intervention disrupts the systems that allow for extreme poverty. 

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Disruptor Award winner, builds and operates walk-in cold rooms for farmers and vendors in Nigerian markets to store and preserve fruits and vegetables. His organization uses solar energy to power these cold-rooms, innovating in not one but two spaces, as energy is saved and farmers can keep produce fresh for longer, contributing to reduction of food waste and hunger.

The fourth key criteria area is scalability, and applicants are asked to elaborate on the ways in which the award would help scale or improve their work. Yasin, for example, said expanding the breadth of his work at Orenda was only a part of the picture. 

“The Waislitz Award gave us the capability to deepen our impact too,” he said. The Pakistani government now broadcasts Taleemabad shows on national television, reaching more than 54 million people across the country. 

Finally, the last key area applicants are asked to respond to is adaptability and demonstrate response to changing conditions. 

The winner of the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen COVID-19 Response Award, Muzalema Mwanza, is the founder and CEO of Safe Motherhood Alliance. Her organization distributes birth kits and trains birth attendants in Zambia, and manufactured PPE during the pandemic for frontline health care workers including 3D printed masks and face shields. 

“Winning the award changed our trajectory as an organization,” Yasin said. “We'd highly recommend all ambitious changemakers who are looking to address issues around poverty to apply for it. A special shoutout to Alex Waislitz, who was not only the driving force behind the award, but made himself personally available for mentoring and guidance."

Click here to learn more about the program and apply today!


Demand Equity

Apply Now for the 2022 Waislitz Global Citizen Awards!

By Abhilasha Sinha