USF-grown Advocates for World Health earns second Kairos 50 list spot

The good work continues. And so does the recognition.

For a second year, a not-for-profit business started by two USF students and a UF student is being honored by the Kairos Society, which once again included the company in its Kairos 50 list, an annual list recognizing the world’s 50 most innovative ventures started by university students.

Advocates for World Health (AWH), a business that recovers excess medical equipment and supplies and distributes them to places and people around the world needing them, will be among 50 other student start-ups honored in New York City this weekend (Feb. 23).

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AWH co-founder Ryan Kania (3rd one from the right) with volunteers and a loaded truck of medical supplies.

“They are flying in the Kairos 50 students from all different countries,” said Jordan Markel, development director for AWH and a first-year medical student in Morsani College of Medicine’s Core MD Program.

“It’s pretty neat – they have us meet people at the United Nations, trading floor of New York Stock Exchange, and Rockefeller Estate and showcase us on the trading floor of the NYSE to world leaders and leading global press outlets.”

The Kairos Society is an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation based in the United States that fosters innovation-driven entrepreneurship surrounding a wide range of global challenges. In making the Kairos 50, the AWH team earned a trip to New York City in February and the opportunity to rub elbows with fellow entrepreneurs from throughout the country, as well as leading business executives with their own success stories. In addition, AWH was selected to showcase to potential investors on the New York Stock Exchange.

“At this year’s Summit, 150 of the world’s most influential leaders and companies like Johnson & Johnson will be giving you 48 hours to design the next billion dollar product that will push the Mobile Health industry forward,” wrote Ankur Jain, founder and chairman of the Kairos Society in his letter to AWH.

AWH has recovered 195,000 pounds of surplus medical product inventory from ending in U.S. landfills. Of this, the group has re-distributed 122,300 pounds, worth $1.94 million at retail, to domestic and international healthcare providers in need of the supplies, including targeted areas in Haiti, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.


AWH co-founder Jordan Markel with donated equipment heading to those in need.

The not-for-profit was started in two years ago by Ryan Kania, Jordan Markel and David Roebuck during their undergraduate studies. Kania graduated Summa Cum Laude as USF’s Fall 2010 Outstanding Graduate. Markel is a first-year medical student and graduate of the master’s program in the USF College of Public Health. Roebuck last year graduated with a dual degree in biology and anthropology from the University of Florida.

AWH recovers surplus medical products and distributes them to relief agencies working in developing nations, thus assisting underserved patients and reducing medical waste. This initiative keeps large amounts of unused medical products out of landfills and incinerators while also supporting better access to healthcare for patients in impoverished communities abroad.

“AWH is one of the few from the original 50 selected for a second time,” Markel said. “We have grown a lot since last year. We moved from collecting supplies in our garage to operating our own commercial warehouse space on Fletcher near USF. Last year, Ryan and I lived on the third floor of a townhouse, turned the second floor into an AWH office, and used our 2-car garage for collection of the supplies. Josh Miller, current operations director, was recruited to develop and manage the operation platform for supply collection, sorting, and warehousing. Together, we learned to drive a mission through good business sense. Since 2012, AWH has expanded to 12,000 square feet of commercial warehouse space, purchased a box truck and a fork lift, partnered with more robust suppliers of surplus medical product, and most importantly, developed a satisfied group of relief agencies receiving aid.”