From left to right: Mr. Edilberto C. de Jesus, Ms. Lyazzat Kaltayeva, Mr. Mechai Viravaidya
Mr. Mechai Viravaidya of Thailand is a leader in the development field and a social reformer. He is the founder of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), an organization that helps address pressing health and population issues, using education and innovation.
In 1975, Mr. Viravaidya founded Thailand’s first social enterprise to fund the operating costs of PDA. Since then, he has established 16 social enterprises, including the well-known Cabbages & Condoms Restaurants and Resorts.
Mr. Viravaidya has effectively approached the problem of rural poverty by helping the rural poor become entrepreneurs themselves. Through the Village Development Partnership (VDP), he helps build sustainable entrepreneurial capacity at the village level, focusing on community empowerment for health and income generating activities. In 2010, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped expand VDP into Cambodia.
In 2008, the Bamboo School was established by the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation to be a lifelong learning center for students, as well as other citizens and hub for social and economic advancement. The school harnesses children’s creative abilities to solve problems with finite resources.
Mr. Viravaidya has served as Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office (1991-1992), Cabinet spokesman (1986-1988), Deputy Minister of Industry (1985-1986) and was also elected to the Senate during the periods 1987-1991, 1996-2000, and 2000-2006. Additionally, Mr. Viravaidya has served as Chairman to several of Thailand’s largest companies including Krung Thai Bank, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, and the Telephone Organization of Thailand.
For his achievements in development and education, Mr. Viravaidya has been acclaimed with numerous awards, recognition, and honorary doctoral degrees. These include the United Nations Population Award, the Bill and Melinda Gates Award for Global Health, the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. He was also named one of Asiaweek’s “20 Great Asians”, and one of TIME Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” to mark the magazine's 60th year of its publication in Asia.
Mr. Viravaidya was educated at the University of Melbourne, in Australia.
He is currently the Chairman of the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation.
Mr. Edilberto C. de Jesus of the Philippines is Professor Emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management. He has previously served as president of the Far Eastern University (Manila, 1995-2002), the University of the Cordilleras (Baguio, 2008-2009), and the Asian Institute of Management (Manila, 2009-2012).
Mr. de Jesus served as Secretary of Education in the Philippines during 2002-2004. In 2003, he also became president of the Council of Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). In 2004, he moved to Bangkok where he served as SEAMEO Secretariat Director until 2008. Mr. de Jesus had earlier served in the Cabinet of President Corazon Aquino from 1988-92 as Presidential Adviser on Rural Development, and concurrently, Deputy Peace Commissioner, a post he assumed on secondment from AIM in 1987.
He currently chairs the Task Force on Internationalization, set up by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education. He also serves on the Advisory Committees of the Philippine Business for Education and of the Asia-Europe Higher Education Program (AHEP), which is supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation. Actively promoting ethics in business, he is also a member of the Steering Committee of Philippines’ Siemens Integrity Initiative.
Mr. de Jesus obtained his B.A. degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and his Ph.D. in History from Yale University.
Ms. Lyazzat Kaltayeva of Kazakhstan is the chair of the Central Asian Disability Forum and chair of the Association of Women with Disabilities “Shyrak”. She is also a member of the National Council on disability and of the National Commission for Women’s Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy in Kazakhstan. As a national expert on gender, disability and human rights issues, she works to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
Ms. Kaltayeva has been instrumental in establishing, managing and developing the movement of women with disabilities in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. In 2007, she was in charge of initiating and conducting the first sociological research on the situation of women with disabilities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Ms. Kaltayeva has also played an active role in organizing wide informational and advocacy campaigns on awareness and tolerance towards women with disabilities.
In 2012, Ms. Kaltayeva was selected by an international Jury as one of the ten Asia-Pacific Champions of Disability Rights for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, for her contribution to advancing rights of persons with disabilities in the region.
Ms. Kaltayeva was educated at the National Pedagogical University, in Almaty, Kazakhstan.