Sometimes the best way to tackle a big problem is to look at it with fresh eyes. The World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community of young social entrepreneurs has been doing exactly that and is preparing to showcase its work through the Coca-Cola “Shaping a Better Future” challenge.

Announced in January, the challenge invites Global Shapers between the ages of 20 and 30 in Hub communities around the world to compete for a $50,000 grand prize and five $10,000 grants to the runners-up. The funds will be dedicated to accelerating the impact of their work.

More than 30 Global Shaper Hubs have qualified with work focused on four major areas – youth employment, education, environment and health. By creating specialized projects within their Hubs, the Shapers are finding creative and viable ways to pinpoint the pressing needs of their local communities.

Hubs in Hong Kong, Hanoi, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City and Turin, for example, are addressing youth economic opportunity with inventive approaches to mentoring and on-site visits to local companies.

Another project in Mumbai aims to empower young girls from the slums by providing an after-school education program to build life skills and break gender-based stigmas. And Nairobi and Rome collaborated to address education issues driven by a lack of electricity in Kenya. To learn more about the projects, visit and click on the “Round 1” tab.

Elaine Bowers Coventry, program sponsor and leader of Coca-Cola’s partnership with the Global Shapers, says the “Shaping a Better Future” grant challenge aims to reward action and will give hub projects the momentum they need to have the greatest impact.

“A good idea executed well is much more impactful than a great idea that is still on a piece of paper,” she adds.

Global Shapers and Hub Curators have narrowed the field of more than 30 entries down to 12 semifinalists (see below) and will soon select the top six Hub projects to advance to the final round. Projects are scored based on the issue addressed in the project, the number of lives positively impacted, efficiency of the proposed solution, and scalability.

Influential leaders who share the same spirit and drive as the Shapers were invited to judge the final round. The all-star panel includes: Hilde Schwab, chairperson and co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship;, artist and co-founder of EKOCYCLE; former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice; Jubril Adewale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive of Oando Plc in Nigeria; Ma Jun, Chinese environmental leader, writer and founding director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs; and others who have made a demonstrable impact on the world. Several Coca-Cola leaders also will serve on the panel, including Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, Chief Sustainability Officer Bea Perez and FEMSA Chairman Jose Antonio Fernandez Carbajal.

Global Shapers

FROM TOP LEFT: Jose Antonio Fernandez Carbajal, Ma Jun, Muhtar Kent, Bea Perez, Condoleezza Rice, Hilde Schwab, Jubril Adewale Tinubu, (credit: Art Streiber/AUGUST).

Fernandez says being a part of the judging panel is an extraordinary way to help young people pave the way for generations to come.

“It’s an honor to be included on this panel, and this will be an enriching experience for us all,” he says. “I strongly believe that young entrepreneurs are the future.”

Schwab adds, “One of the things that inspires me about this generation is their commitment to social entrepreneurship as a way to tackle challenges in their communities. Young people have a lot of enthusiasm to transform these challenges into creative businesses, dynamic organizations and new technologies.”

Results for the “Shaping a Better Future” challenge will be announced in early December and profiled at the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Semifinalist Projects

  • Nairobi, Kenya and Rome, Italy: Powering Education   
  • Shanghai, China: Mission Rong 
  • Yerevan, Armenia: Tumorrow      
  • Port au Prince, Haiti: The Botanical Park Eco-Technology To Feed Future Hatian Generations  
  • Monterey, Mexico -- Destapa Tu Barrio: Bringing Happiness Back To Local Neighborhoods      
  • Kiev, Ukraine: Mentor -Managing For Excellence    
  • Capetown, South Africa: My Hands And Heart 
  • San Salvador, El Salvador: 'Platicas Del Pueblo': Promoting Local Development Through Sustained Dialogue         
  • Caracas, Venezuela: I Am A Creator           
  • Lagos, Nigeria: Entrepreneurs Cafe: Creating Sustainable Employment Driven Businesses
  • Managua, Nicaragua: For Aquality, Forum For Water Innovation And Quality
  • Torino, Italy: 'The Happy Enterpreneur' Gaming Platform