On September 26, Anna Luísa Bezerra from Bahia, founder of startup Aqualuz, created during the Academic Working Capital 2018 program, became the first Brazilian woman to win the United Nations Young Champions of the Earth Award at the Latin America and Caribbean category. The award was given during the Champions of the Earth Award Ceremony, which took place in parallel to the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit in New York.
The Champions of the Earth Award Ceremony, which has been held annually since 2005, awards young people aged 18-30 who are change-makers and have entrepreneurial projects with the potential to create positive environmental impact. Anna Luisa and seven other winners from around the world will receive US$ 15,000 in seed capital, US$ 9,000 as a grant to communicate their ideas, and mentoring for their solutions.
Singer Angélique Kidjo and actor Alec Baldwin were the presenters of the ceremony. “These wonderful environmental defenders are living proof that today’s crisis is an opportunity for innovative solutions, fresh approaches and inspiring leadership,” Kidjo said. UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen completed: “We are celebrating entrepreneurs who put sustainability at the top of their business strategy, pioneers who use technologies to protect our fragile ecosystems.”
In her speech of appreciation, Anna Luísa spoke about what she understands as “her mission”. “We all know that people are dying from consuming non-drinking water. That’s why I challenge you to join me in the fight against it. We already have the tools. Aqualuz is one of them.” The startup proposes a semi-arid, sunlight-based water filtration system that works by collecting rain in cisterns – a unique technology in the world. The filter has an indicator that changes color when the water is ready to drink. The device has a service life of up to 20 years, is easy to maintain and sanitize. About 265 people already get drinking water through Aqualuz technology, which plans to reach 700 people by the end of the year.
Anna Luisa was one of the participants in Academic Working Capital in 2018. “The program opened incredible doors and even after our official follow-up period ended, we still received a lot of support from AWC and Instituto TIM. Today’s results are the fruits of the training and financial support we’ve received,” says Anna Luisa.
Watch Anna Luisa’s explanation of Aqualuz technology that was presented during the awards: