Bart Weetjens

Bart Weetjens is a Zen Buddhist priest, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Tanzania. Bart holds a Masters in Product Design, cum laude grande from Antwerp University. With a focus on appropriate technologies for Africa, Bart initiated the use of trained giant African pouched rats as an alternative and sustainable landmine detector in response to the global landmine challenge. With support from his mentors at Antwerp University, Bart created the social profit organization APOPO in 1998, and with a team of researchers he developed detection rats technology (HeroRATS). Since 2000 APOPO’s headquarters are situated at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. In 2003 HeroRATS were firstly tested in the real minefields in Mozambique, and in 2004 they were accredited according to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). In 2006, the heads of State of 11 African Great Lakes Region Countries (ICGLR) have endorsed HeroRATS for replication in the region. Bart also initiated HeroRATS for the early detection of pulmonary Tuberculosis in vulnerable populations in the African context. This application is currently in R&D phase. HeroRATS received multiple international recognitions, a.o. the Initiative Africa Award and the Golden W3 Award. HeroRATS won the 2003 World Bank’s Development Marketplace global competition. Bart has been elected an ASHOKA fellow and a SCHWAB fellow to the World Economic Forum. He won a Skoll Award for social Entrepreneurship in 2009.