For providing refugees with a pathway to employment
Markus Kressler is the cofounder of Kiron, a Berlin-based nonprofit that creates pathways to higher education for refugees, many of whom have escaped war but can face additional dangers like unemployment, cultural tensions, and the anxious boredom of living in bureaucratic purgatory. Kressler, who studied psychology at the University of Mannheim, first heard about the idea of social entrepreneurship while living in California. He returned to Germany and was volunteering as a refugee counselor in 2014 when a friend, graduate student Vincent Zimmer, suggested they develop a way for refugees to earn degrees online, transforming potentially lost years into an academic opportunity. Kiron was born, and soon news of their innovative model, which pairs two years of online learning with one year of on-site study at a partner university, was spreading like wildfire through the refugee community. Now Kressler divides his time between managing Kiron's growing student body--by the end of 2016, he expects to be serving 5,000 students--and establishing outposts in Turkey, Jordan, and beyond.