2016 Emerging Innovators Bootcamps

applications are now closed.

Thanks for taking the time to apply! Applicants will be notified in July or August.


NEWS & Insights

Congratulations to our Emerging Innovators who were named to the Forbes "30 under 30" list in 2016!

Audrey Cheng, Moringa School (Nairobi)
Jordyn Lexton, Drive Change (New York)
Catherine Mahugu, Soko (Nairobi)
Marcus Noel, Heart of Man (New York)
Rose Wang, Six Foods (New York)
Daniel Yu, Relief Watch (New York)

You can review their profiles and the whole list here.

Connect with Us

Connect with Changemakers on Facebook and follow #amexleads and @changemakers on Twitter for the latest news about the 2016 Emerging Innovators Bootcamps.


    Toronto Bootcamp
    September 7-9, 2016
    New York City Bootcamp
    September 14-16, 2016
    Dakar Bootcamp
    October 5-7, 2016
    Nairobi Bootcamp
    October 12-14, 2016
    Mexico City Bootcamp
    October 19-21, 2016


  • Toronto Bootcamp
    September 7, 2016
  • New York City Bootcamp
    September 14, 2016
  • Dakar Bootcamp
    October 5, 2016
  • Nairobi Bootcamp October 12
    October 12, 2016
  • Mexico City Bootcamp October
    October 19, 2016

We know you can change the world. We're here to help.

At the American Express Emerging Innovators Bootcamps, you'll join a network of changemakers who are revolutionizing health care, education, food security, and more.

Apply for one of 100 spots at our leadership bootcamps, which will take place in five locations around the world this September and October. As an Emerging Innovator, you’ll receive industry insights, personalized feedback, direct connections to sector leaders, and ongoing support from a network of peers who are rising stars in social entrepreneurship.

Applications are now closed. Thanks for your interest! 

The top 20 applicants for each location — 100 innovators in total — will receive:

  • An invitation to an Emerging Innovators Bootcamp in New York City, Mexico City, Toronto, Dakar, or Nairobi. Each cohort of innovators will be integrated into a network of thought leaders, Ashoka Fellows, and alumni who can help them increase the efficacy and impact of their work. 
  • The cost of meals, lodging, and activities during the Bootcamps will be underwritten for all participants. A partial travel award will be issued to participants outside city limits.
  • Selected Emerging Innovators will also be featured in a trilingual media campaign designed to share their projects, insights, and best practices.


You must apply by 11:59 p.m. PDT on June 22, 2016, to be considered for this opportunity. Before applying, please make sure that you’re available to attend the Bootcamp in your region.

  • Canada: Toronto, September 7-9
  • United States: New York City, September 14-16
  • Francophone West Africa: Dakar, Senegal, October 5-7
  • East Africa: Nairobi, Kenya, October 12-14
  • Mexico: Mexico City, October 19-21

Innovators must be between the ages of 18 and 35 years and located in Benin, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, or the United States.

The newest class of Emerging Innovators will be notified of their acceptance in July or August, 2016.


For advice about how to create a better application and to boost your chances of joining the 2016 Class of Emerging Innovators, read these tips.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (#amexleads) for updates. 

If you have any questions about the application process, or if you experience any problems when submitting your application for the Emerging Innovators Bootcamps, please contact [email protected].


Top applicants to the Emerging Innovators Bootcamps are at an inflection point in their careers, and would benefit from inward reflection, expert guidance, and peer support. They should demonstrate the characteristics below:

  • Innovation. Applicants should describe how their solutions are driven by original, ground-breaking ideas. The strongest applicants will present a unique and effective approach to solving critical social problems in their region.
  • Social Impact. Applicants should have launched their initiative within the past 5 yearsand should speak to initial impact results using both qualitative and quantitative data. The strongest applicants will demonstrate a tireless dedication to efficacy, as well as the potential to grow their impact on a national or international scale.
  • Sustainability. Applicants should have a clear and feasible plan for reaching long-term goals. They should describe how they currently fund their work, as well as how they plan to grow it in the future, with a realistic timeframe for implementation.
  • Leadership. Applicants should demonstrate courage, ethical fiber, resiliency, and empathy towards others.


  • Bootcamp applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Their most recent entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) projects must have launched within the last 5 years and demonstrate the potential for significant impact.
  • Applications to the 2016 Emerging Innovators Bootcamps are open to all individuals (not-for-profit founders, social entrepreneurs, business intrapreneurs, etc.) in North America, Francophone West Africa, and East Africa. Eligible countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.
  • Entries must be written in English, French, or Spanish.
  • For each location, the top 20 applicants (100 applicants in total) will receive an invitation to the Emerging Innovators Bootcamp in their respective region. 
  • The cost of meals, lodging, and activities during the Bootcamps will be underwritten for all participants. A partial travel award will be issued to participants outside city limits.
  • Participants must be available and able to travel to these events in either September or October 2016. This includes having a valid passport if traveling in East or West Africa.


Image: A Climate Cents project:  MEND's "Grow Together" Program, empowering low-income families to grow their own food

As people who care deeply about making the world a better place, it’s easy to slip into a focus on the negative, on the depth of the problems we face. This has been true of profound challenges like climate change for many years. In the face of such a daunting problem — abstract, long-term, global and intertwined with every aspect of how we power our daily lives — far too many people have turned away, resigned to their inability to make change.

Dec 13, 16

The Talent Challenge:

Investing in People for Impact

Twitter chat with us and our expert panel:

Jamie Smith
Executive Director, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN)  

Luzette Jaimes
Director, Learning & Development, Ashoka

December 12, 2016

1 p.m. EDT

Dec 07, 16

Highlights and voices from the 2016 Emerging Innovators Bootcamp in New York City, which brought together 20 passionate social entrepreneurs with experts in business, movement-building, storytelling and social change. Run by Ashoka Changemakers, the Bootcamp is designed to help social purpose leaders make their ventures more effective and sustainable while also supporting their own vision and well-being.


Nov 30, 16

Past Participants


She's the First




Practice Makes Perfect


Mission: Launch, Inc.

View more leadership stories at LeaderStories.org.