We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards -- two individuals and two organisations across four categories, who have demonstrated remarkable courage and commitment in the pursuit of social change.

The four winners were selected from some 300 nominations from across the globe. They were honoured at a ceremony on 7 December in Suva, Fiji as part of International Civil Society Week. 

For the first time, the Awards were run in collaboration with The Elders – a group of independent global leaders, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 – and, specifically, their #WalkTogether campaign.

And the winners are...

Jubilanté Cutting is pioneering the development of opportunities, skills, and connections to enable young people of the Caribbean to shape the future of the digital and creative industries. In 2016, at just 19, Jubilanté founded the Guyana Animation Network – an organisation that helps youth to develop skills in digital media and animation. It has since engaged over 3,500 people, including children as young as 6, and begun linking artists and animators with some of the world’s leading experts and entrepreneurs. And she’s done it all while completing her legal degree and working as a part-time paralegal at one of the country’s leading law firms.

Khaled Elbalshy is an Egyptian human rights defender, journalist, and chief editor of the Al Bedaiah online newspaper. In a nation where media freedom is under constant attack, Khaled has boldly and relentlessly pursued the cause of free speech, despite facing personal judicial and online harassment. He established the Front to Defend Journalists and Freedoms, which has succeeded in having several journalists released from detention. He has also sought every available platform to shine a light on violations by the government and share these with the world, and has actively mentored younger journalists to defend their own rights and the rights of others.

The Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative is on a mission to change the face of mental health. Despite limited funding and significant stigma, MANI has quickly become the country’s largest and most active mental health organisation. They have used social media to build an online community of almost 20,000, where young Nigerians can share openly about their stories and challenges, and find acceptance and support. The organisation also runs a 24-hour suicide and distress hotline, and holds monthly events, which include visits to prisons, secondary schools, neuropsychiatric hospitals.

The Guerrilla Foundation, as the name suggests, are far from the traditional philanthropic funder. Where much of the sector tends towards well-established organisations and more conservative approaches, GF is instead focused on supporting systemic activism and grassroots movements, some of which can’t even publicly acknowledge the funding they receive. Their grant making extends across Europe, with a priority on Southern and Eastern Europe. GF is also supporting the development of the first European Participatory Fund for grant-making, which will allow activists to be the decision makers as to where funds go and how they will shape their communities.