Announcing Impact Hero 2022 and the Finalists

Earth Company called for applications to Impact Hero 2022 in August 2021 and  received dozens of applications from a total of 15 countries. The selection committee was once again impressed by the applicants’ great visions and their initiatives tackling some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  

After much discussion and careful consideration, the committee  selected 7 distinguished changemakers to be part of the Impact Hero 2022 cohort.

With much anticipation and excitement, we are thrilled to share with you the Grand Winner and 6 Finalists of Impact Hero 2022!

 IMPACT HERO 2022 : Samir Lakhani

Focus geography: Cambodia, Nepal, etc.
Organization: Eco-Soap Bank

Samir’s Profile: Samir Lakhani is the Founder and Executive Director of Eco-Soap Bank, a nonprofit organization that employs women to recycle leftover soap from factories which is redistributed to save lives. He is a social entrepreneur dedicated to restoring health and dignity in developing countries. In recognition of his work, Samir has received a number of awards including the CNN Heroes Award, Forbes 30 under 30 award, Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award, Rotary Presidential Peacebuilding Award, amongst others. He also recently gave a TEDx talk. He is a business development professional with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from University of Pittsburgh.

Reasons for selecting Samir Lakhani as Impact Hero 2022

・Eco-Soap Bank’s business model embodies a regenerative mechanism – the more they scale their work, the more waste is reduced, the more employment generated for women, the greater access to soap and health education for the most vulnerable populations.

・Eco-Soap Bank’s model delivers a simple solution that can be expanded widely to other geographies to solve one of the most pressing global issues – poor sanitation and health.

・The selection committee believes Samir is a dedicated and diligent changemaker who keeps striving to bring bigger and better impact to the beneficiaries by continuously assessing and improving performance.

・Earth Company’s support can help Samir and his team create a bigger impact in a cost-effective manner.

・Eco-Soap Bank’s work can be expanded through Earth Company’s networks in collaboration with international agencies and businesses.

Message from Samir

Impact Hero 2022 Finalists

Gary Bencheghib

Focus geography: Indonesia
Organization: Sungai Watch

Mission: Sungai Watch is on a mission to protect and restore Indonesia’s rivers by developing and designing simple technologies to stop the flow of plastic pollution from entering the ocean.

Gary’s Profile: Gary is an environmental activist and filmmaker. He co-founded Make A Change World in 2009 with his siblings, a media outlet that uncovers uplifting and inspirational stories. With his younger brother Sam, he has launched a series of expeditions to travel down some of the world’s most polluted rivers on upcycled plastic bottle rafts, including the Mississippi River and the Citarum River.

Gary now dedicates 100% of his time towards growing Sungai Watch, a non-profit with the mission of protecting waterways starting in Indonesia. Since October 2020, the organization has successfully installed 108 barriers to stop plastic pollution from going into the ocean, removing over 350,000 kgs of plastics from Bali’s waterways. In 2022, Sungai Watch is expanding to tackle the most polluted rivers of Indonesia by placing 1,000 barriers.

 Hong Hoang

Focus geography: Vietnam
Organization: CHANGE

Mission: Mobilizing youth leaders to promote environmental conservation through communication, education, and community organizing.

Hong’s Profile: For almost 20 years, Hong has worked on raising public awareness and engaging communities to tackle climate change, pollution, and the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam. With 350.org, a global climate change organization, she helped to build the youth-led climate movements in Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

In early 2013, Hong founded CHANGE, an NGO that utilizes new media and creative communication to mobilize, organize, and build the capacity of local youth groups to take action to solve the country’s most urgent environmental issues. In collaboration with CHANGE, young people and other stakeholders, including local celebrities and business-people, work to mitigate climate change, support affected communities, prevent air and plastic pollution, protect endangered wild animals, and promote renewable energy and sustainable living.

Hong was inspired to take on environmental work after she joined a UNESCO expedition team of 35 youth from 25 countries to travel to Antarctica in 1997. She was the first Vietnamese citizen ever to set foot on the continent and became a Special Junior Envoy of UNESCO, and received a Certificate of Merits from the Vietnamese Prime Minister. Hong received her bachelor’s degree in foreign trade economics from Hanoi’s Foreign Trade University and her bachelor’s degree in English from Hanoi University of Foreign Studies.

Eugenio ‘Ego’ Lemos

Focus geography: Timor-leste
Organization: PERMATIL

Mission: Empowering community members to improve their lives in healthy and sustainable ways based on the ethics and principles of permaculture.

Ego’s Profile: Musician, singer songwriter and environmental troubadour Ego Lemos is a remarkable man, with a remarkable voice in more ways than one.
While he currently represents Permatil as the Executive Director, in the past he served as the National Adviser on Curriculum Development for Basic Education on Arts & Culture and Permaculture School Gardens for the Ministry of Education of Timor-Leste. He is also a lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture and Public Arts & Culture at the University of Timor-Leste.

He co-authored ‘Permaculture Gardens for Kids’ produced by Permatil, along with several guidebooks and training manuals on permaculture.
He received several awards for his environmental work including:

USAID’s Tourism for All Award ‘Climate Champion’ in 2021
The Earth Hall of Fame by the Earth Forum Kyoto, Japan, in 2019
Human Rights Award ‘Sergio Viera de Mello’ President Palace of Nicolao Lobato, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in 2018.

Maisha Lubaba

Focus geography: Bangladesh
Organization: Protibha

Mission: Economically empowering women through developing crafting skills and commercializing their handmade products globally.

Maisha’s Profile: Maisha Lubaba has paved the way for more than 300 rural artisans by ensuring their economic empowerment through the social enterprise named Protibha (which means ‘talent’ in Bengali). Her keen sense of social responsibility led her to work in the development sector. As a woman born and brought up in Bangladesh, the crafting talent of rural Bengali women has always amazed Maisha. But it was also heart wrenching at the same time, how these talents never get to be nurtured and supported enough. This feeling provoked her to be part of an enterprise that connects rural talents with urban markets.

This enterprise takes a holistic approach by advocating the human rights among the community people, then developing zero skilled rural women to high skilled artisans through quality product development. Their creation is later commercialized globally to ensure their financial security and also the preservation of the heritage.

Noryawati Mulyono

Focus geography: Indonesia
Organization: Biopac

Mission: Solving global plastic waste and social problems in coastal communities by manufacturing seaweed-based biodegradable packaging.

Nory’s Profile: Nory was born in Pekalongan in a chemical trading family. She first learnt about chemicals, including alginate flour from seaweed, when she was 8 years old. She got her undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Chemistry (Bandung Institute of Technology) and Food Science (IPB University), respectively. She had worked in quality control and R&D in a food color company before she moved to Atma Jaya Catholic University as lecturer in 2009.

She is thankful that some institutions have recognized and supported her bioplastic innovation: L’Oreal (2010), Toray Foundation (2011), Diplomat Success Challenge (2012), Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017), Indonesia Ministry for Higher Education (2013-2019), and Indonesia Ministry for Law & Human Rights (2016).

She realizes that she was equipped with all the experiences from her childhood, education, and career and achievement to fulfill her mission to alleviate poverty in seaweed farmers by using their seaweed to solve global plastic waste pollution sustainably.

Aparna Bhatnagar Saxena

Focus geography: Indonesia
Organization: TORAJAMELO

Mission: Collaborating with women led weaving communities and offering market access sustainably via 3Cs  Commerce, Community collaboration, and Consultancy – for alleviation of systemic poverty.

Aparna’s Profile: Aparna Bhatnagar Saxena identifies herself as an unapologetic feminist, a vegan, an environmentalist, and a student for life. An Indiannow based in Jakarta, she has lived and worked in 4 countries in Asia.

In addition to leading TORAJAMELO by ensuring that social, environmental, and cultural sustainability of indigenous communities in Indonesia is preserved and promoted, she is ASEAN lead for She Loves Data that enables women to enter the world of data and pursue careers in the same. She is a core member of Going Green in Jakarta, a community of enthusiasts who aim to make living sustainable and green in Indonesia.

She also promotes and walks her values as the co-founder of Vriksh Impact Partners, a boutique investment and advisory firm in India that is focussed on supporting and growing early-stage plant-based businesses in India.