Both were recognized for their efforts to lift people, especially women, out of poverty as part of the fourth annual Babson Connect: Worldwide in Madrid, Spain

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Babson’s Lewis Institute 2018 Community Changemaker Awards were presented to María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, permanent member of the Spanish Council of State and president of the Women for Africa Foundation, andLeila Janah, “Give Work” author and founder and CEO of Samasource and LXMI, during the Babson Connect Worldwide entrepreneurship summit in Madrid, Spain, on Saturday, April 21, 2018.


This award was designed specifically to recognize persons who have set something in motion in order to create positive change. Past recipients include Catalina Escobar, founder and president of the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation, Shainoor Khoja, managing director of Roshan Corporate Social Responsibility, and Roshni Nadar Mahotra, executive director and CEO of HCL Corporation; director of HCL Technologies; and trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation.

“Babson is pleased to recognize María and Leila for their continued efforts to create economic and social change for at-risk populations around the world,” said Babson College President Kerry Healey. “Their work exemplifies how entrepreneurship can be a force for creating positive change and global impact, and we are proud to honor them with the 2018 Lewis Institute Community Changemaker Award.”

“Each year, by celebrating the journeys of our award recipients, we illuminate an understanding of what it takes to be a Community Changemaker. This illumination better equips our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and broader community with stories, and insights, to employ Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as a mindset for addressing seemingly intractable problems,” added Cheryl Kiser, executive director of the Lewis Institute.

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega made history in 2004 by becoming the first female Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, a position she combined with that of Minister of the Presidency and Government Spokesperson until late 2010.

She was the driving force behind the first and to date the only National Plan for Human Rights approved in Spain, which she presented at the headquarters of the United Nations in December 2008.

Throughout her time in the government, she promoted policies to extend and enforce citizen’s rights, with initiatives such as the Comprehensive Law against Gender Violence and the Law on Equality, which placed Spain at the forefront of gender equality.

Today, she is a permanent member of the Spanish Council of State, the top advisory body to the Government of Spain, another position that had not been held by a woman before. She also has been a member of UN Women’s Global Advisory Group for Civil Society.

In February 2012, she launched the Women for Africa Foundation with the aim of making it an institution of national and international reach in an effort to promote development on that continent. This is a task that the foundation undertakes by providing support for African women, who have proven to be the most powerful engine of progress in their societies.

Read more about her background and experience »

Leila Janah

Leila Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource and LXMI, two companies that go beyond charity to #givework to low-income people around the world using cutting-edge social enterprise models in technology and luxury skincare, respectively.

A Harvard-educated former management consultant, Janah has been profiled by The New York TimesFast Company,WiredForbesGlamourReal Simple, and Inc. She recently was named one of Fortune's 40 Under 40, Condé Nast’sDaring 25, and Elle’s 2016 Top Women in Tech, and Samasource was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2016. She recently released her first book, Give Work, which challenges people to think about how they can use the power of traditional business to solve poverty global poverty at the root.

Read more about her background and experience »

About The Lewis Institute

The Lewis Institute illuminates pathways for students, faculty, staff, foundations, and corporate partners seeking social innovation solutions.

By drawing upon Babson’s core methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®, we activate unexpected and fruitful collaborations and integrative designs for action. The result is business prosperity and societal improvement. We extend our impact through the Babson Social Innovation Lab, an action tank powered by Toyota, which incubates people and ideas in the world of social innovation.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-rankedcollege for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

By Brianna Radicioni,, (781) 239-4548 | 04/23/2018 03:00