I first heard Wemimo Abbey speak in August at the inaugural TIME Impact House in Martha’s Vineyard. It was clear to everyone that night that Abbey’s is a story worth sharing. Together with Samir Goel, the two co-founders have built Esusu, a five-year-old company that helps Americans use their rental history to build credit scores. Abbey, who emigrated as a 17-year-old to the U.S. from Nigeria, watched his mother struggle to repay a high-interest loan because of a lack of credit history—something without which millions of people and communities across the country are unable to access loans that can create wealth.
Abbey’s example is a powerful one, showing how personal insight can inspire societal change. It demonstrates that rethinking accepted ideas can create new possibilities for millions of people. His is one of 100 stories that are told within this year’s TIME100 Next.
That is the point of the TIME100 Next. In 2019, we launched the list as part of our own effort to evolve how TIME tells stories. Traditionally, with efforts like Person of the Year and TIME100, we have used the power of our spotlight to draw attention to those who have achieved peak influence in their fields. But a great magazine and a great media company should not just reflect the present, it should push us forward, showing what is possible as well as what society’s future and future leaders will look like. That is our ambition for TIME100 Next, our annual franchise recognizing the rising leaders in health, climate, business, sports, the arts and more.
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This year’s list includes dozens of individuals, like Abbey and Goel, who are engineering new solutions to society’s most pressing problems. They are scientists, CEOs, artists, an astronaut, and, naturally, a librarian too: Brooklyn Public Library’s Nick Higgins, who is offering teens across the country access to books banned by their local libraries.
To recognize the TIME100 Next, we invite today’s leaders to pay tribute to those who are following in their footsteps. For our three cover subjects this year: Peyton Manning, who first met Jalen Hurts when Hurts was a counselor at Manning’s summer football program, praises the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who this summer signed a contract making him the highest paid football player in history, as “a model of how to approach a job”; Shania Twain embraces 30-year-old Kelsea Ballerini as “an old soul” who knows how to seize a big moment; and actor Omar Sy celebrates the French chef Mory Sacko’s secret recipe—an ability to channel the crosscurrents of multiple cultures and “give up nothing of who he is.”
Making a list like the TIME100 Next requires research and reporting from across TIME’s global network of editors and correspondents. We sift through hundreds of suggestions and then meet each week to debate who belongs on the list. “Through this process, we get to know so many extraordinary leaders who are creating change across the world. Our hope is that this list offers a glimpse into their important work,” says Cate Matthews, a TIME editorial director.
Putting together the TIME100 Next also requires the sensibility of organizing a great dinner party. Each selection impacts the next one, as we aim to include a growing variety of future headlinemakers, emphasize the storylines that fascinate us this year, and find individuals whose talents and achievements complement the group as a whole. Fortunately, in October, we will be getting the TIME100 Next together for an actual great dinner party, hosted in New York City, where the newest members of the TIME100 community will have a chance to toast one another’s accomplishments and forge new connections, all in the spirit of inspiring new possibilities.
Correction, Sept. 14
The original version of this story misspelled, in one instance, Samir Goel’s last name.