The 2019 Business for Peace Honourees who are delivering opportunities for women, minorities and diverse and disadvantaged groups have been unveiled. Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako, co-founder of GiftedMom, is among the three. He has contributed towards healthcare of pregnant women as GiftedMom has contributed to improved antenatal care attendance by up to 90% in some urban areas and rural areas.
The Oslo Business for Peace Award is given to inspiring business leaders around the globe who have accomplished extraordinary things. The award honours ambassadors of ‘businessworthy’ values, who are shaping society for the better.
2019’s winners are: Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako, co-founder of GiftedMom, Alice Laugher, the CEO of CTG (Committed to Good) and Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of Chobani.
These three leaders are at the helm of companies which have a broader view than just the bottom line and see business as a tool for change. As individuals, they look at the world around them and work to improve it.
Currently in its 10th year, the award boasts an impressive list of previous winners, including Sir Richard Branson (Virgin), Sarah Beydoun (Sarah’s Bag) and Paul Polman (Unilever). An award committee comprised of Nobel Laureates in peace and economics have selected the three outstanding business leaders who receive this year’s accolade. This is following a global, bottom-up nomination process through Business for Peace’s partners; International Chamber of Commerce, Principles for Responsible Investment, United Nations Development Program and United Nations Global Compact.
“The 2019 Honourees have managed to create enterprises with a significant social impact, exemplifying outstanding business contributions to society. In a world of imbalance, they have taken the initiative to establish and grow businesses that offer opportunities to women, minorities, diverse and disadvantaged groups”, comments Business for Peace Founder, Per L. Saxegaard. “These three celebrated individuals have worked tirelessly to counteract inequalities, encouraging inclusion and democratising access to health, aid, and work. Through their businesses, they promote human rights, contribute to sustaining peace and help build environments in which human potential can flourish.”
Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako
Agbor Ashumanyi Ako is one of the co-founders of GiftedMom, a digital health platform based in Cameroon that gives pregnant women and mothers across Africa access to vital health information and care. As a digital-first platform, GiftedMom is able to expand faster than traditional health care systems and the start-up aims to reach 10 million women in the next 10 years. Started by Alain Nteff and Doctor Tankou Conrad in 2012, the platform now has over 170,000 users. The award-winning app has significantly improved both pregnancy check-up attendance and vaccination turnouts, with an ultimate goal to see a world free of preventable maternal and infant deaths.
Dr Agbor enthuses, “This recognition is a symbol to show that there is progress in the right direction for the company GiftedMom. It comes as a reminder of the mission ahead. Being nominated by experts from the United Nations Development Programme Business Call to Action community and selected by former Nobel Peace Prize laureates is an indication of how the work GiftedMom is doing provides a global solution to help solve today’s challenges.”
Alice Laugher is the CEO of CTG, Committed to Good, which provides employment and logistics services to development and relief programmes in fragile and conflict-affected countries. From running Ebola treatment clinics in Liberia, to food distribution in Afghanistan and South Sudan, monitoring and assisting refugees in Libya, and rebuilding government constitution in Somalia, the work of CTG is as diverse as our world’s issues.
British-born Laugher is a vocal advocate for the Sustainable Development Agenda, with a particular focus on gender equality. She is passionate about CTG being a force for good and creating economic opportunities for women in war-torn regions. She explains: “At CTG, we’ve made empowering women through humanitarian employment in conflict-affected regions our focus. This award, this incredible recognition for our commitment, strengthens our determinations that we are moving in the right direction. I hope it will inspire business leaders, both women and men, to believe that their commitments to change and peace – no matter how small or large in scale – are the only way forward.”
Hamdi Ulukaya is the founder and CEO of Chobani, the company behind the number one Greek yoghurt in America. Today, Chobani has over 2,000 employees in the United States, 30 percent of which are legally resettled immigrants and refugees. Ulukaya has created a corporate culture in which everyone is welcome and has an opportunity to thrive; with innovative profit-sharing and parental leave programmes. Ulukaya has also taken a leadership role in the global business community to encourage action from the private sector to tackle the global refugee crisis. Ulukaya comments, “I’m very humbled by this honor, and I’m proud to accept it on behalf of the women and men of team Chobani. This new way of business–where companies focus on people and not just profits, try to make the world a little bit better–should be at the heart of every modern company. As CEOs we don’t need to have more, we need to do more. When we see an injustice, we need to speak out. When we have tools and resources to solve problems, we have to use them.”
Who Is Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako?
As a medical doctor with previous community health experience in Cameroon, Dr. Agbor now focuses his efforts on changing the health system through a social enterprise. He is a co-founder and medical director of GiftedMom, a mobile health solution in Africa that offers pregnant women and new mothers access to health information and care, strengthening antenatal wellness and outcomes.
GiftedMom began operations in 2015 and has since grown to reach over 170,000 users. In its first year, the app helped over 1,200 pregnant women across 15 communities, increasing antenatal care attendance by an average of 20% and ultimately saving lives.
Over the past two years, GiftedMom has contributed to improved antenatal care attendance by up to 90% in some urban areas and rural areas. The SMS messaging service has also improved vaccination outcome turnouts by up to 90% in some locations.
GiftedMom’s mission is to make healthcare information and education available to over 400 million people in developing countries. By 2020, GiftedMom plan to reach a milestone 500,000 people with the launch of the scheme in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Kenya. Over the next five years the company aims to reach 10 million women across Africa – and this is just a starting point.
Dr. Agbor said: “I have seen the health situations in Cameroon and I am very passionate about touching lives. GiftedMom provided me a platform to which I can touch many lives.”
As co-founder and medical director of GiftedMom, Dr. Agbor has received several awards and recognitions for his work, including Global Champion of the World Summit Award 2018, Gavi INFUSE Pacesetter 2017 and 2017 Digital Africa Award.
Dr. Agbor is a mentor to medical students in Cameroon and volunteers with Empower Vision, an organisation that empowers young adults via workshops, seminars, conferences and forums. He has participated in several international conferences as an expert addressing issues related to digital technologies, development, inclusive businesses and leadership.
He is the WSA Young Ambassador for Cameroon and has been a consultant for mobile health solutions for UNFPA, World Bank, the French Embassy in Gabon and many non-governmental organisations.
When asked what winning the 2019 Business for Peace Award meant to him, Dr. Agbor responded: “It is a symbol to show that GiftedMom is progress in the right direction. It comes as a reminder of the mission ahead and encouragement to keep on growing. Being nominated by experts from the United Nations Development Programme Business Call to Action community and selected by former Nobel Peace Prize Laureates is an indication of how the work with GiftedMom is a global solution to solve today’s challenges.”
Dr. Agbor goes on to say that it’s important for businesses to help build peace: “Businesses are what drive the growth of a country, which means they are also in a unique position to influence other aspects, particularly in terms of peace building. It’s important that we grow responsible businesses and encourage a healthy environment. Ultimately, without peace and humanitarian action, communities cannot thrive.”