Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2023: Honoring Innovation for a Perpetual Planet

The Swiss brand celebrates excellence from the African continent with an evening honouring two of the five laureates whose ambitious projects will help improve lives while protecting the planet for future generations

By Your Luxury

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise were set up in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster. Through the programme, the company supports exceptional individuals with innovative projects that improve our knowledge of the world, protect the environment, help preserve habitats and species and improve human well-being.

Two of the five laureates hailing from East and West Africa were the guests of honour on an evening of opulence and authentic storytelling in Cape Town. In celebration of Beth Koigi from Kenya and Professor Inza Koné from Côte d’Ivoire, Rolex hosted the exclusive evening at a heritage venue bordering Constantia’s Cecelia Forest which lies on the slopes of Table Mountain. This served as the perfectly momentous setting for an equally momentous occasion. On arrival, guests enjoyed sundowner cocktails and canapés under the sky and sunset while a live musician serenaded them with contemporary African classics.

YourLuxury Africa’s Editor in Chief Ntokozo Maseko served as event host and conversation moderator for the evening, taking guests on a meticulously curated journey of African folklore and storytelling. Among the distinguished guests in attendance, the High Commissioner of Kenya to the Republic of South Africa Ms. Jane Ndurumo showed visible pride in fellow African citizens whose pioneering and impactful work was in the spotlight. Rolex representative from Geneva, Emile Crettex handed over both laureates award certification and a commemorative Rolex watch.

Intended to be a one-off celebration, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise drew such international attention that Rolex transformed them into a biennial programme that has, in 48 years since its creation, supported 160 Laureates, whose projects have had a profound impact across 65 countries. These awards embody the initiative’s intricate values.

The Awards are given to projects focusing on the environment, science and health, applied technology, cultural heritage, and exploration. The projects are judged on their originality and

the impact they could have on the world at large, as well as on the candidates’ spirit of enterprise. Five Laureates are chosen every two years. They each receive funding to implement their project and become members of the Rolex Laureates network, many of whom still collaborate today.

The 2023 Laureates have been selected by a panel of ten world-renowned experts and leaders in their field. “We could feel, breathe, and really experience what these amazing changemakers and leaders are trying to achieve,” says one of the jury members, Tsitsi Masiyiwa who is a philanthropist and Chair of Co-Impact’s Board of Directors. From providing clean water in Kenya to protecting the mountainous forests of the Andes, the 2023 Laureates and their respective projects highlight the brand’s commitment to a Perpetual Planet.


Beth Koigi

The young Kenyan social entrepreneur will be providing solar-powered generators harvesting water from the air to 3,000 people in 10 communities who need clean water resources.

Since co-founding her start-up in 2017, Koigi’s atmospheric water generators have produced over 200,000 litres of clean water per month for over 1,900 people. The potential impact of this innovative technology is enormous; in Koigi’s native Kenya, half the population lack access to clean drinking water, while according to the UN, half the world’s population could be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.

Inza Koné

The primatologist will be protecting a richly biodiverse forest in Côte d’Ivoire while safeguarding its endangered fauna and reducing poverty in the area. After years of work with people in the area, Koné’s efforts resulted in the Tanoé-Ehy Forest becoming a community-managed natural reserve in 2021.

The Rolex Award will enable Koné to continue preserving its outstanding biodiversity, supporting community management and encouraging sustainable livelihoods for people in the region.

Constantino Aucca Chutas

The biologist will be scaling up his community-centred forest ecosystem restoration and protection programme in the high Andes.

He founded Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) in 2000 and co-founded Acción Andina in 2018, and has planted 4.5 million trees, engaged more than 60 local communities, and created 16 protected areas in the mountains across Peru and other high Andean countries.

Denica Riadini-Flesch

The social entrepreneur will be expanding her regenerative farm-to-closet clothing supply chain, strengthening women’s empowerment and preserving local Indonesian cultures.

After a successful academic career as an economist, Riadini-Flesch founded SukkhaCitta, working with rural craftswomen in Indonesia to provide them with business skills, environmental stewardship education, and customers in 32 countries.

Liu Shaochuang

The remote sensing specialist will be studying wild camels’ habitats in view of creating two new conservation reserves to save the last remaining wild herds.

Drawing on his scientific expertise, having played a key role in developing China’s Lunar and Mars rovers, Liu Shaochuang will satellite-track wild camels in the Gobi Desert regions of China and Mongolia to support their future conservation.

Whether by passing on knowledge to a new generation of Laureates or bringing together complementary areas of expertise, this one-of-a-kind group builds on each other’s skills and expertise to generate more impact and try to find solutions to our planet’s environmental issues.



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