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10 Trendsetters: Pioneers of Social Change

There are millions of pioneers of social change, in the past and now. Everywhere, we find people aiming to find creative and ethical ways to bring about change, small or big.

In this article, we look at ten of the most influential change makers. They are my selection, to demonstrate the diversity, history and creativity of social pioneers. From sports clubs to humanitarian organizations, their stories are a testament to the power of passion, determination, and a love for humanity.

These social pioneers have in common:

  • their deep passion and humanity

  • their dedication to their mission. They all persevered and struggled for many, many years to achieve the change they envisioned.

  • their ability to inspire and build organisations, networks or movements for their cause. None of them achieved the changes alone, but all of them co-created something big and lasting with like-minded peers – a football club, the Red Cross, the civil rights movement, or WikiLeaks. 

Here are my 10 trendsetters in historical sequence ...

#10 Nathaniel Creswick - Trendsetter for the “most important thing” in the world and sports in general

#9 Henry Dunant - Trendsetter for supporting war victims and for international advocacy

#8 Mahatma Gandhi - Trendsetter for non-violent resistance and anti-colonial movements

#7 Eglantyne Jebb - Trendsetter for humanitarian organizations and fund-raising models

#6 Rosa Parks - Trendsetter for empowerment and the civil rights movements

#5 Peter Benenson - Trendsetter in the struggle for human rights

#4 Wangari Maathai - Trendsetter for environmental movements


#3 Muhammad Yunus - Trendsetter for social businesses and micro-credit


#2 Julian Assange - Trendsetter for internet activism and whistleblowing

#1 Malala Yousafzai - Trendsetter for girls education and social influencer


Please download Impact Cards here to find around 80 more inspirational leaders and trendsetters.

We would like to learn more about who has inspired you in your journey to change the world.

Please write to us.


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