Bart Weetjens is a Dutch product designer and Zen Buddhist priest.
A celebrated social entrepreneur, Bart is focused on establishing appropriate technologies for developing countries.
In 1998, Bart set-up APOPO to address the dependence of African communities on foreign expertise to solve difficult, dangerous and expensive humanitarian detection tasks, posed by scourges of the developing world, like the landmine legacy and the emergence of tuberculosis.
His organisation researches, develops, deploys and disseminates the use of a sustainable local alternative: detection rats technology – training giant African pouched rats to save human lives.
Bart Weetjens and APOPO train the rats to sniff out and detect lethal landmines.
The rats undertake the same rigorous testing applied to land mine-sniffing canines. The rats which pass the training become what Weetjens calls “HeroRATS.”
Bart’s team is a collective of experts from the countries they work in, and specialists from around the world, all committed to fighting humanitarian challenges in the most innovative and effective ways.
APOPO currently employs over 300 local staff for its in-country operations, and has over 255 rats in various stages of breeding, detection training, research, or operations.
Bart Weetjens is an Ashoka fellow, a Skoll awardee and a Schwab fellow to the World Economic Forum.
Weetjens and his organisation are now applying a similar approach to other fields, training rats to diagnose tuberculosis in hospitals.
Speaking topics include:
- Ground-breaking Innovation
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Well-being and Meditation
Bart travels from Belgium.