9 World-Changing Entrepreneurs You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

From today young entrepreneurs from across the UK can apply to spend three months at businesses around the world. And if you’re looking for inspiration, here are nine trailblazing entrepreneurs you’ve probably never heard of.

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1. Muhammad Yunus: The original social entrepreneur


Bangladeshi economist who founded Grameen Bank to provide microfinance loans to the poor – and won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for it. The bank has so far disbursed $11.35bn and currently extends credit to 8.35 million people, around 97% of whom are women.

2. Sabeer Bhatia: E-preneur


Indian entrepreneur and father of Hotmail who gave millions of us our first email account, and made You’ve Got Mail look oh so very dated. Bought by Microsoft in 1997 for $400m.

3. Norman Borlaug: Greentrepreneur

US biologist who played a pivotal role in the ‘Green Revolution’ – bringing high-yield disease-resistant crops to Mexico, Pakistan and India. It saved an estimated billion lives, and laid the foundations for India’s emergence as a global economic power.

4. Rapelang Rabana: Digi-preneur


South African who started Yeigo Communications, a telecoms firm providing Voice over IP, Instant messaging, SMS messaging and push email services. Later founded ReKindle Learning, a mobile learning platform where students can do homework, ask teachers questions, and collaborate with their peers.

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6. Zhang Yin: Subversive entrepreneur


Daughter of a Red Army officer imprisoned for ‘capitalist offences’ during the Cultural Revolution. Working at a paper mill in the 1980s she saw how much paper was being wasted and founded Nine Dragons Paper – now one of the biggest recycling firms in the world.

7. Ola Orekunrin: Doctor-preneur

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Nigerian-British doctor who launched West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service – ‘Flying Doctors’. It now provides helicopter, airplane ambulance and evacuation services in Nigeria and other West African states.

8. Jenny Dawson: Food entrepreneur


Scottish businesswoman who quit the City in 2011 to start Rubies in the Rubble – a social enterprise that employs homeless people and recycles food waste from markets around London.

9. Joel Mwale: Raindrop entrepreneur

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21-year-old Kenyan who created SkyDrop Enterprises, a rainwater-filtration company that sells cheap purified water. Also offers low-cost purified milk and dairy products.

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So, feeling inspired? From today anyone aged 18 to 25 can apply for the UK Government's ICS Entrepreneur scheme, giving them the chance to get experience as well as helping to grow businesses and create jobs in some of the world's poorest countries. To find out more go to: