Okezue was among five Grand Prize winners honored by actress, activist and author America Ferrera and Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey for their work in creating stronger and more inclusive communities.
NEWARK, N.J., April 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Okezue Bell, 17, of Easton, Pennsylvania was among five young people named Grand Prize winners by Prudential Financial's Emerging Visionaries program at a four-day summit held this week at Prudential's Newark headquarters.
The Emerging Visionaries program is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the social entrepreneurship network Ashoka, with advisory support from the Financial Health Network. It honors young people between 14 and 18 years old across the United States for leading initiatives that result in fresh, innovative solutions to today's financial and societal challenges.
"Supporting the efforts of these Emerging Visionaries is another way we are working to fulfill Prudential's purpose: to make lives better by solving the financial challenges of our changing world," said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey. "We're honored to celebrate the initiative, creativity and empathy of these young leaders, and look forward to seeing all the great things they accomplish in the future."
The 25 winners, named in February, each earned a $5,000 award and an all-expenses-paid trip to this week's Emerging Visionaries Summit, plus a chance to win an additional $10,000. The summit included an awards ceremony, where winners were celebrated by special guests including actress, activist and author America Ferrera. The students also consulted with Prudential senior leaders on topics of strategy and impact and worked with Prudential employee coaches who helped them refine and advance their projects.
As part of the summit, five young people were selected to pitch their ideas for advancing financial equity to a panel of judges for the chance to receive an additional $10,000 in funding. Pitch-off judges included Lowrey, leaders from Ashoka and the Financial Health Network, and program alumni.
After hearing how impactful the finalists' work has been in promoting financial inclusion and addressing economic inequality, the judges decided to award $10,000 to all five presenters. In addition to the Grand Prize winners, Prudential employees voted this spring to name an Employees' Choice Award winner, who received an additional $5,000 to support their work.
Meet Pennsylvania's 2023 Prudential Emerging Visionary:
Okezue founded "Fidutam," an accessible mobile app that is expanding financial access to unbanked and low-income communities.
The initiative offers microloans specifically targeted to underserved communities to expand their access to financial services. "As a person of color and a Nigerian, I've seen the devastating effects the racial hegemony in banking and finance can have on communities," he says. The initiative has reached more than 100 people across the United States and will expand to Nigeria.
To learn more about Prudential Emerging Visionaries and all 25 winners, visit prudential.com/emergingvisionaries.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness leader and premier active global investment manager, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential's diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit news.prudential.com.
Ashoka is the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs — individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world's biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into national, regional and global social impact. Over 40 years, Ashoka has supported more than 3,600 social entrepreneurs in 90 countries with solutions addressing society's most pressing issues. Ashoka's vision is a world in which everyone is a changemaker — a society that responds quickly and effectively to challenges, and where every individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem. For more information, visit ashoka.org.
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SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.