Dennis Karpes

Dennis Karpes

Dennis is committed to creating a future where more citizens are willing and prepared to play an active role in solving social problems. He has been an Ashoka Fellow since 2009 and was the first Ashoka fellow in the Netherlands. He was elected for his work with Dance4Life, an organization that empowers young people to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and provides them with the skills and confidence they need to make safe sexual choices.

Dennis initiated various projects prior to becoming an Ashoka fellow, and he has continued to do so since his election. His most recent endeavor is called Justdiggit, a landscape restoration organization that combines traditional techniques with new technology and a communications-based approach, with the overall vision of cooling down the planet.

Lucas Simons

Lucas Simons

Lucas’s passion and background in the field of sustainable development led him to build the successful ScopeInsight initiative, for which he was elected as an Ashoka Fellow. Through this work he helped create a tool for rating and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of medium-sized agricultural producers. ScopeInsight has enabled previously disparate stakeholders to communicate with a common language and shared standards, and he has increased access to financial products for the agricultural sector within low-income countries.

Through Scopeinsight, Lucas provides direct and tangible information to farmers, pinpointing their strengths and identifying areas for improvement.

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Jos de Blok

Dissatisfied with the delivery of healthcare by traditional home-care organizations in the Netherlands, Jos decided to create a new model anchored on the self-management capacity of nursing professionals, ultimately creating a more responsive, patient-centric system providing better quality care. In the long run, the model enables the patient to maintain independence from costly institutionalized care.

His model has become widely successful in the Netherlands and is scaling to numerous different countries. In 2014, Jos received The Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), following Marie (Madam) Curie, Stephen Hawking, and the likes, for his work as the founder of Buurtzorg, a transformational new model of community healthcare.

Noa Lodeizen

Noa Lodeizen

Noa was elected as a fellow for her work with Young in Prison (YiP), an international network of YiP member organizations that work towards changing the way in which societies perceive juvenile justice and carry out juvenile reformation. YiP works on the understanding that youth offenders are in a vital stage of development in their lives, and it is therefore necessary to provide them with opportunities for rehabilitation and social reintegration.

Currently, Noa is the Director of Ashoka Netherlands, where she is committed to building new global collectives and initiatives, and she continues to keep system-change at the heart of everything she does.

Joost van Engen

Joost van Engen

As an employee at the IDA foundation, Joost gained experience in the provision of essential drugs and medical supplies to NGOs and governments in 139 countries. Although this was fulfilling, he found the job to be equally frustrating, especially when medicine did not reach those in desperate need. Responding to this problem, Joost founded Healthy Entrepreneurs.

Healthy Entrepreneurs promotes an innovative and sustainable supply chain, creating sustained access to essential medicines, hygiene products and supplements for low income families in remote areas. Along with this, the organization provides health education and basic health consultation, with a focus on improving the overall quality of people’s daily lives.

Bas van Abel

Bas van Abel

Bas combines hard skills such as mathematics and scientific thinking with a playful and creative approach to life. He is the founder of Fairphone, which is based on the vision of a fairer electronics industry and a more ethical supply and production chain. Building on this vision, Bas coordinated the design and production of the first long-lasting, ethical smartphone. Through this work he has promoted a movement of ethical consumption and has been instrumental in shifting the smartphone industry towards sustainable production and complete transparency.

More recently, Bas founded a circular startup named De Clique, collecting waste from restaurants and businesses in Utrecht to turn this into new products. De Clique re-envisions waste as something that nourishes, clothes and builds up a city.

Emer Beamer

Emer Beamer

Emer devotes her work to youth education and showing children that they are important and deserving of attention. She strongly believes that education should give value to children's ideas, allowing them to find their place in the world as they grow and also encouraging adults to reflect on themselves and to change their approach to educating the youth.

With this vision in mind, Emer founded Designathon Works, an organization grounded on design thinking and viewing the child as a complete human being with great creative capacity. This learning method enables teachers to tap into the natural space of play within children in order to stimulate their engagement in social issues as well as to challenge them to design new solutions using modern technology.

Barmara Muller

Barbara Muller

Barbara’s work focuses on providing support and guidance to traumatized mothers and their newborns. She is the founder of Het Babyhuis, and through this foundation she offers a safe space and temporary accommodation for mothers and their babies, with the goal of helping them to stay together and preventing unnecessary outcome placements.

Barbara is also the founder of Beschermde Wieg, assisting pregnant women or new mothers who cannot care for their child and see no other option than to give them up. These women often feel helpless and afraid, and Beschermde Wieg provides a safe environment where they can anonymously leave their baby, as well as a 24-hour emergency helpline for further assistance.

Geert van der Veer

Geert van der Veer

Based on a model of collective ownership, Geert founded the organization Herenboeren, placing the use of farmland back into the hands of local communities. By creating an alternative system for food production, compared to the widespread industrialized one, Geert re-envisions how agricultural practices can respect the land, the animals and nature.

The first cooperative Herenboeren farm was started in Boxtel in 2016, and the second one in Loenen in 2019. Moving forward, there are plans to expand this model to various other areas, driving further dialogue around sustainable farming and agricultural innovation. Herenboeren demonstrates the power of collectivity and the possibility for building a different, social and sustainable food system.

Aart van Veller

Aart is a leading example of innovation in action. As a co-founder of Vandebron, he has helped to revolutionize the consumption of renewable energy, empowering both consumers and producers by making green energy accessible and affordable to everyone. Vandebron provides energy that is sustainably generated on Dutch soil and ensures that the consumer knows exactly where the energy is coming from and where their money is going.

Vandebron was chosen as the number 1 energy company by the Dutch Association for Consumers. Vandebron has had a notable influence in the market and has helped to change mindsets in the Netherlands regarding renewable energy.

Wietse van der Werf

Wietse van der Werf

Wietse is the founder and CEO of the Sea Ranger Service, the world’s first maritime ranger service, which aims to revolutionize ocean conservation. His model is focused on empowering unemployed youths and re-integrating navy veterans to build specially designed sailing ships, which can assist in managing and monitoring Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

These MPAs are increasingly being affected by illegal fishing, plastic pollution and climate change, and there is a need for more cost-effective and clean sailing work vessels with zero emissions. The Sea Ranger Service responds to this need and encourages an alternative approach to marine conservation.

Profile of Jeroo speaking

Jeroo Billimoria

Jeroo is a passionate advocate for children’s rights and she believes that children need systems that are inclusive and respond to their needs. In 1996 Jeroo launched Childline to provide street children in India with quick access to services such as the police and healthcare. She is also the founder of Aflatoun, offering social and financial education to youth around the world. Most recently, Jeroo founded One Family Foundation, which operates as a social incubation innovator and is currently supporting four key projects: One Shared School, Embrace Europe, TorontoLine and Catalyst 2030.

Jeroo was selected as an Ashoka fellow in India in 1998, but she has since moved to the Netherlands and now lives in Amsterdam.

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John Marks

John is the founder of Search for Common Ground (SFCG), an organization which uses popular culture to facilitate peacebuilding and conflict resolution around the world. John believes that effective conflict resolution involves understanding differences and acting on the commonalities of warring groups. Since its inception in 1982, SFCG has expanded widely, and now works in 30 countries with a team of around 450 people. In recognition of its work, SFCG was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.

John is originally from the United States, but he is now living in the Netherlands. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in Peacebuilding and Social Entrepreneurship at Leiden University.

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Lis Suarez-Visbal

Lis is committed to building an inclusive circular economy, and she combines her business skills with a commitment to sustainability and ethical production. She is the founder of FEM International, a Canadian NGO which supports women empowerment and sustainable development. FEM International is focused on promoting ethical fashion in order to alleviate poverty, encourage development and lessen the environmental impact caused by the fashion industry.

She was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in Canada, but she currently resides in the Netherlands. She is now working as a Sustainability, Circular Economy and Gender Consultant at Utrecht University. This position involves conducting research into circular economy opportunities for developing countries.

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Sunil Abraham

Sunil is an expert in digital practices and information technology (IT), and he is dedicated to lessening the digital divide and making IT accessible to a wider population. He also believes in promoting a more democratic flow of information and knowledge, for the benefit of all people. He is the co-founder and Director of Mahiti Infotech, a social enterprise focused on reducing the cost and complexity of ICTs by using free and open-source software. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Centre for Internet and Society.

He was formerly based in Bangalore, India, but now lives in the Netherlands and works as Endowed Professor in digital policy and design practices at the ArtEZ University of Arts in Arnhem.