By Daniel Hunter

Charles Batte, 24, from Uganda has beaten off competition from over 60,000 of the world’s top young social entrepreneurs to win Smaller Earth’s prestigious Your Big Year competition. Charles will now embark on a life changing year which will see him fulfill the role of global ambassador for social entrepreneurship, meeting captains of industry, world leaders and getting first hand experience of working with CSR projects on six continents.

Smaller Earth’s Your Big Year is a global talent programme, in partnership with Mazars, that gives young entrepreneurs from around the world the chance to win the unique year-long placement. This year the competition, which was founded by Liverpool-based entrepreneur Chris Arnold and is run by his company Smaller Earth, received over 60,000 entries from 221 countries. 16 finalists from 14 countries were selected to be flown to England where they took part in a week of business, media and social enterprise challenges which included pitching to the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Sir Terry Leahy and Martha Lane Fox.

Having grown up in the slums of Kamwokya surrounded by drug addictions, unemployment and crime, Charles knew from an early age that he wanted to dedicate his life to being a social entrepreneur and improving conditions for others. Aged 20 Charles set up a farm that produces maize and beans which now employs 50 people and provides food for thousands more.

As well as running the farm, Charles is also studying to be a heart surgeon having been inspired to take up medicine after the severe illness of his childhood friend at the age of five from heart failure. Following his friend’s illness, the five year-old Charles dissected a rat so he cold try and understand more of how the heart worked and ever since has been driven to become a heart surgeon.

A delighted Charles said, “I am extremely excited about the prospect of such an amazing opportunity and cant wait to complete my year of CSR and business projects. Social entrepreneurship is such a powerful tool, and I hope that through my work and telling my story, I can touch the lives of many young people and inspire them to become social entrepreneurs. I hope my experiences will help me develop as a person and as a leader of tomorrow.”

As part of his unique prize, Charles will travel to six continents to meet captains of industry and work on a range of CSR projects. He will have the opportunity to learn first hand about issues people face in different regions of the world and partake in activities to help positively change them.

Chris Arnold founder of Your Big Year said, “The aim of Your Big Year is to provide inspiration and confidence to anyone with ambition, and I am delighted and so proud to name Charles as our winner. Throughout the whole selection process, Charles has shown astonishingly mature business ethics, impressive oratory skills, and a real sense of social responsibility and will for change, so rare in a 24 year-old. I can’t wait to send Charles off on his trip, and see what results he can achieve for social entrepreneurism.”

Tony Treacy, a member of the judging panel and marketing director of Your Big Year sponsorship, accountancy firm Mazars said: “It has been a privilege to spend the last week watching the finalists compete. Without exception they all demonstrated remarkable determination, resourcefulness, commercial aptitude and respect for each other: it was a pleasure to see true entrepreneurial spirit in action.

Charles is an outstanding individual and very deserving winner. The projects he will work on over the next year will benefit greatly from his strong work ethic and natural entrepreneurial talent, and no doubt the business leaders he will meet, including those from Mazars offices around the world, will be just as blown away by him as we have been.”

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