The founders of DHL were pioneers who changed the logistics industry. Here are 50 other innovators who helped make a difference to the world – in either small or significant ways.

Of course, this is just a small selection of trailblazing names – not an exhaustive list. But all have, in one way or another, helped make our world a more interesting, informed and progressive place. And for that, we salute them.

Bill Gates & Melinda Gates (left), Wangarĩ Muta Maathai (right)

Bill Gates (1955) & Melinda Gates (1964)
Founders of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty globally, and, in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. 

Wangarĩ Muta Maathai (1940 – 2011)
Kenyan environmental political activist and Nobel laureate who founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation and women’s rights. In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Bea Johnson (1974) 
Leading light of the zero waste movement who has influenced people across the world to adopt the 5 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (left), Dame Ellen Mcarthur (right)

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910 –1997)
Renowned ocean explorer, scientist, author and researcher Cousteau co-developed the aqua lung and pioneered marine conservation. 

Dame Ellen Mcarthur (1976)
British yachtswoman who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005. In 2010, she established the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy – a drive to minimize waste and maximize resources.

Muhammad Yunus (1940)
Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker and economist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding and developing the Grameen Bank. The bank has lifted millions of Bangladeshis out of poverty by providing small loans to those unable to get them from traditional lenders.

Leonardo DiCaprio (left), Peter Tabichi (right)

Leonardo DiCaprio (1974)
The Hollywood actor and environmentalist has long been a champion of environmentally friendly cars and  drives the most recognizable hybrid in the world: the Toyota Prius.

Peter Tabichi (1983)
Science teacher from Kenya who pledges 80% of his salary to local community projects in Pwani village, a remote location where approximately 95% of students live in poverty. Recently, Tabichi won a $1 million global prize recognizing and celebrating the impact and importance of the world’s best educators.

Warren Buffett (1930)
American business magnate who has pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Peter Benenson (1921 – 2005)
British lawyer, human rights activist and the founder of Amnesty International. 

Jean Todt and Alejandro Agag (left), Alexander von Humboldt (right)

Jean Todt (1946) and Alejandro Agag (1970)
Todt (President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, aka FIA) and Agag (a Spanish entrepreneur) created the Formula E Championship, the world’s first fully electric racing series, which had its inaugural championship in Beijing in 2014. 

Alexander von Humboldt (1769  – 1859)
This Prussian scientist was ahead of the curve when it came to climate change: He first predicted it more than 200 years ago. While trekking through the South American rainforests, Humboldt recognized the interconnectedness of nature and how human interference could have a potentially devastating impact on the environment.

Ohad Elhelo (1989)
Israeli social entrepreneur and the founder of Our Generation Speaks, a fellowship program and incubator that aims to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together through entrepreneurship.

Published: September 2019

Meet more trailblazers

Images: Studio Pong for DHL Delivered.; Elaine Thompson/AP/dpa; Javier Arcenillas/LUZ/fotogloria; Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images; Image Press Agency/Alamy; Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images; ATP/dpa; John Phillips/Getty Images; Everett Collection/action press; Jacques Witt/Sipa/action press; Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy