Some of us are late developers. Others do amazing things when they’re young. Sabrina Bensawan was 16 when she founded Saab Shares, a non-profit focusing on education, healthcare and women’s empowerment. Now aged 21, she became the youngest recipient of an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year award last year. President Joko Widodo has even made her a National Role Model.
“It all started on my birthday in 2014,” says Sabrina, who graduated from Singapore’s Raffles Institute with an academic excellence award. “My mother told my party guests that they were not allowed to bring me presents. But if they insisted, they could bring some money for donation to a nursing home. Thinking about people that needed help led to my decision to build a programme that could have a long-term impact by changing the lives of underprivileged children and families.”
Sabrina started Saab Shares with her sister Elena, who was only 14 at the time. Saab Shares has been supported by several social enterprises, one of which is Heritage by Sabrina, a batik line. This sustainable model has enabled Saab Shares to support even more beneficiaries.
“I believe that education is very important. It enables us to break the chains of poverty,” Sabrina says. “When we educate children, we don’t only determine their future, but also our country’s future. To me, if we want to build our nation, we have to build our nation’s children first.”
Photographed by Sunaryo
40 UNDER 40: THE VANGUARDS LIST IS PRESENTED BY SULWHASOO, AS PUBLISHED IN PRESTIGE INDONESIA OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE.