Each year EY recognizes select business owners and leaders from around the world for its ultimate global competition for entrepreneurs, EY World Entrepreneur of the Year™. This year’s visionaries represent innovation, philanthropy and leadership successes spanning 41 global jurisdictions and 7 industry sectors, each making a world of difference. 

This year, the award celebrates unstoppable entrepreneurs who inspire us all to build a better working world. 

YPO was well represented in the 2022 class, which competed 8-10 June in Monaco for the world title. Meet the honorees who are part of our own YPO global community. 

Mark Bajada | Malta

As Managing Director of Bajada New Energy, Mark Bajada is powering Malta’s sustainable future. Harnessing his passion for innovation, he began as a solar energy supplier and a pioneer in the clean energy space where he produced the first solar panels in Malta in the 1990s. He later developed the first solar farm and solar road. 

Today, he serves as an inspiration of innovation and service, extending his focus to hospitality and elder care, including a new program to open dementia day care centers. He also works as a mentor to share his business insights with young entrepreneurs.  

“I always wanted to bring change in other people’s lives, being in health care, elderly care or renewable energy solutions,” says Bajada. “These for me are mission milestones, and the energy and drive they give me makes me relentless and focused. Despite the challenges and difficulties, I will still persevere to accomplish them.”

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs encountering roadblocks? 

“Challenges are important for every entrepreneur to grow; being focused on the clear objectives and purposes are drivers that can support you to become more resilient.” 

Tomáš Čupr | Czech Republic 

Tomáš Čupr is revolutionizing the online grocery market across Europe. As CEO of Rohlik Group, he uses data and technology innovation to optimize customer service, delivering orders within 90 minutes. 

Not only does Rohlik Group deliver fast, Čupr ensures they deliver quality. They use locally sourced and sustainable products as much as possible and are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint: Deliveries are made by vehicles using green compressed natural gas or electrically powered vehicles; grocery bags are reusable; and the company is reducing food waste through its “Save the Food” program. They also have a Farm-to-Door program that encourages healthy lifestyles, and they can deliver produce from farm to consumer in as few as six hours. 

And while online grocery shopping might feel ubiquitous after weathering a global pandemic, that wasn’t always the case. 

“Of course, the last two years were quite favorable to us, but back in 2014, an online grocery store was far from obvious. No one was funding this in central Europe, but we’ve always managed somehow to pull through,” says Čupr. “At some point I had to take a mortgage on my house; that’s the moment I will remember for the rest of my life because I’d made the call even on a personal level that I was going to put everything on the line.”

What leadership qualities do you think are important in overcoming obstacles?

“I think you have to be really clear about your values why you’re doing something, because you can definitely find easier jobs. Being clear about company values and as a leader really living them and showing the way to people in the hard times is something that goes a long way in times of crisis. When everything else is sort of up in the air, the values remain constant.”

Eduardo della Maggiora | Chile 

Betterfly is a tech platform that helps people manage their mental, physical and financial well-being. Knowing that 90% of Latin American families do not have life insurance, CEO Eduardo della Maggiora and his brother, President Cristóbal della Maggiora, were inspired to start the company after losing their father when they were young, leaving them to handle the financial burden. 

Now Latin America’s fastest growing insurtech, the platform rewards users’ healthy habits with charitable donations and additional life insurance coverage. To date, the company has donated more than 3 million meals to children in need. 

“Since Betterfly was born, we’ve made a commitment to create an impact-first company and structure ourselves in a way that would put social purpose at the center of everything we do – technology, operations, culture and brand,” says della Maggiora. “The EY award helps pave the way for many other companies to start refocusing their models towards a new way of doing business, where the generation of impact is embedded into the company’s legal mission and business model.”

What leadership qualities do you think are important in overcoming obstacles?

“Doing something that you are deeply passionate about and leading by example. Entrepreneurship is all about resilience and if you’re not doing something you absolutely love, chances are it will be very difficult to stand up after the many falls you will have along the way. Even more so, when you are creating a new product and a new category, where you will need to take tons of risks.” 

Alexis Pantazis | Cyprus

As Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hellas Direct, Alexis Pantazis, along with his partner Emilios Markou, are revolutionizing the insurance market in Cyprus and Greece. A full-stack, vertically integrated digital insurance company that harnesses artificial intelligence and customer data, Hellas Direct focuses on accessible and personalized insurance for cars, motorcycles and homes.  

Despite their success — they currently have a 55% market share in the road assistance space in Cyprus — Pantazis has faced challenges as a leader.  

“In 2021, we walked away from two acquisitions. We signed to buy both AXA’s and Mapfre’s assistance subsidiaries in Greece,” Pantazis says. “And after months of negotiations, diligence work, and legal drafting, we decided not to complete either transaction, which was, in hindsight, the right decision to make. It sounds great to complete an acquisition, especially if you are the local challenger acquiring from a global powerhouse. For us, as an organization, to demonstrate the maturity not to do a deal than do a bad deal, is something I am particularly proud of.”

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs encountering roadblocks? 
“One of my favorite quotes is Winston Churchill’s ‘If you are going through hell, keep going.’ In its simplicity, this phrase summarizes the best advice any entrepreneur can take. Entrepreneurs are by nature paranoid people – this is what typically drives them to want to change the world. Taking a breather every now and then and reflecting on the positive impact you have had in the world around you is something that we don’t do enough of and offers much needed perspective. And keep going.

Hélio Rotenberg | Brazil

A former college principal, Hélio Rotenberg found an innovative way to continue promoting opportunities and education when he founded Positivo Tecnologia in the 1980s, which offers tech products to families and institutions across Brazil.

To date, the company has produced more than 40 million devices. This includes developing and distributing teaching solutions that transform classrooms. Positivo Tecnologia’s educational technologies are used in more than 14,000 schools across 40 countries. 

“When we launched the first computer aimed at the final consumer, we understood that the Brazilian middle-class consumer had difficulty understanding technology, the internet and the need for a data plan,” says Rotenberg. “My great pride is having contributed to the computerization of the Brazilian middle class by being able to bring these families the right computers at the right price.”

What are you most proud of over the past year with your company?

“My perseverance and experience are reflected on Positivo Tecnologia’s business performance. The company has been presenting remarkable financial results. In recent quarters it has announced consecutive record revenues. In 2021, when Positivo Tecnologia faced the shortage of electronic components supply and the challenges posed by COVID-19, we still grew 54%. Continuing on a progressive path and generating sustainable performance in the long term, my management consolidates the business diversification strategy. It includes, for example, the development and acceleration of new areas of activity, such as in the segment of smart homes and servers for data centers.”

Eddy Tang | Hong Kong/Macau 

The eldest of three children, Eddy Tang, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EC Healthcare was only 13 years old when his father suffered a stroke and needed hospital care. This inspired Tang to become a doctor, but he was later forced to drop out because of financial pressures. Still, he was committed to addressing the gaps in private health care. 

So, in 2005, he founded client-centric medical health care service provider EC Healthcare. Today, the company operates in 29 disciplines with 251 full-time registered medical doctors and manages 147 clinics, 16 of which are in mainland China.

“I strongly believe in creating an agile business that meets customers’ needs. I frequently review the customer journey and consider how technology can be used to improve the customer experience,” says Tang. “My primary focus now is on big data applications. I envision a future in which customers’ personal and genetic data can be integrated to anticipate the medical services they will need. This will be a ground-breaking innovation for the industry and will further improve the patient experience.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs encountering roadblocks? 

“Conviction. ‘Believe and achieve’ is the hallmark of our corporate DNA. Entrepreneurs are often the aberrant ones who think lightly of themselves, but deeply of the world. What separates them outstandingly from the crowd is rarely intellect, for specialists in various fields or prodigies of any sort could fill that discrepancy. It is our burning desire to challenge the norm that leads to action and ultimately manifests into reality through relentless efforts and perseverance. Never stop believing, for every adversity always comes with the seed of an equal or greater opportunity. Be impervious like ironclads. And be the one who is willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.”

Meet the Class of 2022 

Do you know an unstoppable entrepreneur? Nominate them here

EY is YPO’s Strategic Learning Advisor.