Recognising UK alumni who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.

Global finalists

AMERICAS: Raquel Espinosa (Mexico)

University of Edinburgh

Raquel combines her knowledge of film and passion for digital education practices to open up arts, culture and education to people who are visually impaired. Her work has generated new research interest into the use of technology to teach people with visual impairments in Mexico. Raquel’s studies in the UK boosted her professional network, leading to invaluable opportunities to present her work at international festivals and exhibitions.

EUROPE: Dr Orna Rosenfeld (France)

University of Westminster and University of Sheffield

Orna advises organisations including UNECE and the World Bank on housing policies and investment. Orna helped to implement the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership and designed an action plan to improve housing knowledge, regulation and investment. Her work has helped to increase the provision of social and affordable housing in 56 countries. In 2014, Orna was recognised as a World Cities Summit Young Leader for her contribution to improving urban liveability and sustainability.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Fadi Zaghmout (United Arab Emirates)

University of Sussex

Fadi is a gender activist, blogger and author. His writing challenges mainstream perceptions of gender and sexuality in the Arab world, and has been translated into English and French. In 2012 Fadi published his debut novel, The Bride of Amman, which made the bestseller list in a number of retailers. Fadi’s work is informed by his time at the University of Sussex, where he had the opportunity to take modules on utopia and creative writing, psychoanalysis and sexuality. He is a Chevening scholar.

SOUTH ASIA: Dev Aditya (India)

Brunel University London

Dev founded Otermans Institute that upskills underserved learners in ten countries. It helped 30,000 only in the pandemic. He also built the first AI virtual teacher for displaced learners; currently upskilling refugees in UN camps. He received a Points of Light Award from UK’s Prime Minister in 2021 for his bestseller Together: An anthology from COVID-19 pandemic; donating all proceeds to NHS and frontline services. He was also Deputy President of his SU when he raised £185,000 for community.

SOUTH ASIA: Ian Yee (Malaysia)

Liverpool John Moores University

Ian Yee is a Peabody-nominated investigative journalist who has covered issues such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, refugee rights, and more; all while working with civil society groups on impact campaigns that tackle the social injustices he and his team uncover. His work has seen him selected for the Obama Leaders, Acumen Fellows, and UK International Leaders programmes. The press freedom he experienced in the UK helped shape his decision to pursue impact-driven investigative work.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: Olusola Owonikoko (Nigeria)

University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies

Olusola is the Founder of Project Enable Africa, which connects disabled people with job opportunities, entrepreneurial and employability skills. It delivered training to more than 2,000 disabled people and supported more than 1,000 disabled people to start and grow their businesses. Olusola’s time in the UK gave him the theoretical knowledge and practical skills he needed. He secured a $250,000 grant from the Google Impact Challenge to set up Nigeria’s first disability-friendly digital hub.

WIDER EUROPE: Mustafa Ozer (Turkey)

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Mustafa is the director at imece social innovation platform for innovators to find solutions to social and ecological issues. Mustafa worked with local NGO Habitat to develop a financial literacy programme that reached 100,000 young people, and later launched a grant scheme for refugee entrepreneurs. This work has created sustainable livelihoods for more than 1,000 Syrian refugees. Mustafa’s UK education broadened his worldview and introduced him to a diversity of perspectives and cultures.