Hazari is the founder of m.Paani.
Social entrepreneur Akanksha Hazari of India was honored with the Economic Empowerment Award at the 15th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. Theranos founder and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Holmes presented the award to Hazari.
The awards meet saw a mammoth gathering of 1,200 guests who came together to celebrate four extraordinary women, each taking on the most urgent issues facing their communities and showing exceptional leadership in an insecure world.
“Akanksha is one of the rare, sole female tech founders in India,” said Holmes, at the meet. “She believes, like I do, that technology has an incredible role to play in solving some of the biggest problems we face.”
While working in rural India, Hazari realized even in areas where infrastructure and service delivery were inadequate, there was one tool nearly everyone had access to: a mobile phone. She decided to turn access to phones into access to social goods, including clean water, healthcare, education and energy.
Hazari’s purpose-driven business, m.Paani, offers India’s first loyalty platform for mass-market consumers and micro-businesses, rewarding spending at in-network partners with points that can be redeemed for life changing rewards, such as water filters.
“While things feel so broken, we are also surrounded by symbols of human achievement and stories of human aspiration constantly endeavoring to do better, and to be better,” said Hazari, speaking at the meet. “We are powerful. And for the first time in human history, technology has enabled collective action at an unprecedented scale.”
There other exceptional women, Hafsat Abiola-Costello of Nigeria, Khanim Latif of Iraq and Yoani Sánchez of Cuba were also honored for demonstrating bold, courageous leadership.
Alyse Nelson, president and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Voices, said in her speech, of the honorees: “It’s never been more critical to support leaders who scale sustainable solutions, who foster resilience and use their platform to uplift others. Vital Voices invests in these leaders, in their proven ability to improve the world around them.”
Vital Voices has been shining a spotlight for 15 years on visionary leaders who find solutions to enduring problems and create progress in their communities and beyond.