Announcing the Impact Hero 2023!

Earth Company’s call for IMPACT HERO 2023 received the highest number of applicants totalling 76 one-of-a-kind changemakers. Starting this year, we evolved the selection process to select a cohort of 7-10 finalists first to participate in a 6-month leadership program to better understand their work and identify their support needs before selecting the Impact Hero winner. The six-month program is a prerequisite to be considered to become the winner, and after careful consideration and numerous discussions among the selection team, we have finally selected our IMPACT HERO 2023 winner and runner-up!

 IMPACT HERO 2023 : Oyungerel Tsedevdamba

Country: Mongolia
Organization: Local Solutions

Breaking the taboo of toilets and improving sanitation and health throughout Mongolia

 

Oyungerel, commonly referred to as Oyuna, grew up in a small rural town in Mongolia which was heavily influenced by Communism during the Soviet Union times. Oyuna studied planned economics at a university in Moscow, however, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, she became an activist to advocate for democracy in Mongolia. From 2012 to 2016, Oyuna served as the Minister of Culture and Tourism as one of the first female members of the parliament.

Oyuna’s mission is to change toilets to change lives. More than 60% of toilets in Mongolia are open-pit latrine toilets, which are highly unsanitary and even dangerous. However, in a country where even talking about ‘toilets’ is considered a taboo, there has been almost no progress in improving them. To address this calamity, in 2017, Oyuna launched the “Let’s Change Out Toilets” campaign to break that taboo and improve the wellbeing of her people by promoting, providing, and educating the public on safe and sanitary toilets.

Reasons for Selection

・Many United Nations agencies and international organizations have attempted to address this critical issue; however, none of these organizations have been successful in effectively improving the situation. As a local woman who has a large community of followers (on social media, she has the second largest number of followers in the country, most of which consists of young Mongolian women and girls!), Oyuna is one of the rare candidates (if not the only candidate) to be able to address this critical issue – one none of foreign organizations were able to accomplish.    

・The Mongolian national government is dominated by elderly male politicians, and there is a substantial need and aspirations for women empowerment in the country. Oyuna is a role model female leader in her country and has the potential to significantly uplift the women empowerment movement with a deep long-term impact. 

・Oyuna consistently displays humility towards everyone regardless of age and possesses immense potential for leadership development due to her strong desire to learn and grow.

・Oyuna’s primary needs for support include: fundraising, network building, and organization building to aim for expansion – which plays to Earth Company’s strengths. 

・Earth Company’s support has the potential to bring about substantial change and a significant impact at the national level for Oyuna’s work.

Message from Oyuna

“Hello from Mongolia. 

I’m 500km northwest from Ulaanbaatar, in a small sanatorium area where children with autism come and get treatment here.  So I’m happy that my team and I are here changing their toilets.  While I was doing this public toilet change and public education work in the countryside, I received a phone call from Earth Company, and I just can’t believe what I just heard. 

They  selected me as the Impact Hero 2023 and I’m so excited about it, and I’m so excited for my team, and I’m so excited for all the people who are benefiting from the change that our team is offering for them.  It gives me just an inspiration to do more to change more people’s lives.

And I would like to congratulate everybody who participated in my cohort because all the Impact Heroes of our cohort was so wonderful. “

IMPACT HERO 2023 Runner-Up: Zeinorin Angkang

Country: India
Organization: Hill Wild

Improving food security and farmers’ income through regenerative agriculture, protecting indigenous species and empowering indigenous communities

 

Zeinorin is from the Tangkhul Naga tribe, an indigenous tribe in northeastern India that has been in armed conflict since World War II. Experiencing hunger and poverty as a child, she left her homeland in search of education and employment opportunities. She returned to her hometown at the age of 25 and founded Hill Wild after witnessing local farmers suffering from land degradation, poverty, and the effects of climate change.

Hill Wild works with minority tribes and indigenous communities to innovate their harvested crops into consumer-packaged superfoods. By using the community’s traditional farming methods – which have long been considered regenerative agriculture –  Zeinorin’s organization is restoring and promoting this method, in order to achieve prosperous development across the region, reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of the local farmers.

Reasons for Selection

・Her approach towards “regenerative agriculture” is highly aligned with Earth Company’s vision of a regenerative future.

・Zeinorin is highly motivated to learn and has tremendous potential to grow as a leader.

・As an organization, we have the opportunity to provide support to address challenges faced in northeastern India, a region that has struggled with the world’s longest armed conflict and continues to be affected by ongoing strife.