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THE ROLEX AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE, LAUREATE SELENE BIFFI, 2012 LAUREATE

Selene Biffi

Fondatrice e Direttore esecutivo, Plain Ink

Selene Biffi was born in Monza (Italy) in 1982, is a humanitarian and social entrepreneur with a passion for education, justice and technology.

 

Selene launched her first social venture at age 22 with a mere 150 Euro – Youth Action for Change, a platform offering free, online courses for youth in some 130 countries – and has not stopped since. Following a stint in Afghanistan, she launches Plain Ink (www.plainink.org), an organisation that creates engaging comics, imagery and stories to help children and communities find their own solutions to local problems related to poverty or social exclusion.

 

In 2013 she gives up offers for a seat in the Italian Parliament to get back to Kabul to open The Qessa Academy (www.qessaacademy.org), the first school ever to train unemployed youth in the promotion and preservation of traditional oral culture as a way to create employment and local development. Most recently, she launches Spillover (www.spillover.org) – a startup that turns the latest scientific research into video games for youth aged 8 and up – and Bibak (www.bibak.org), whose mission is to help communities make a smart move from landmines to land security by developing a cheap, easy to assemble pod of sensors for landmine detection.

 

She has been a consultant, trainer and speaker for organisations such as the UN, the World Bank, OSCE, Council of Euope, Microsoft and many more for 12 years. From 2007 to 2009 she was elected to coordinate the Major Group on Children and Youth, an official lobby group within the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN-CSD).

 

She currently serves on the Board of Fondazione per l’Innovazione del Terzo Settore (FITS) of Banca Prossima (part of the Banca Intesa group) and was a member of the Task Force on Innovative Startups created by the Minister for Economic Development, On. Corrado Passera, drafting the section about mission-drive startups that resulted in Law 221/2012.

 

Her works were featured in media outlets such as The Washington Post, MTV and WIRED. Along with Carlo Annese, she authored “The teacher of Kabul”, a book recounting her story and that of her school in Afghanistan, published by Sperling & Kupfer in Italy and City Editions in France.

 

She has served as the Italian Ambassador to the European Year of Volunteering for the European Commission and has received over 50 awards and fellowships for the uniqueness and impact of her work. Selected as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum at age 26, most recently she is awarded the Intercultural Innovation Award by the United Nations and a Rolex Award for Enterprise (Young Laureate).

 

She received a Bachelor Degree in International Economics and Management from Università Bocconi (Italy) and a joint NOHA Master in International Humanitarian Action from University College Dublin (Ireland) and Universidad de Deusto (Spain). She completed her studies with Executive Diplomas from INSEAD Business School (France) and Harvard University (USA), and a Graduate Studies Program diploma from Singularity University.

 

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