Age: 32

Location: Waterloo

Occupation: founder of Desire2Learn

Contribution: created computer program to help people learn


John Baker dared to dream big when he was just 22 and an engineering student at the University of Waterloo.

He envisioned a computer program that would "break down all the barriers to education" and allow everyone a chance to get an education.

He founded Desire2Learn, an innovative e-learning solutions company.

"For some people, this is their only way of learning," he says.

The company began in 1999 and now has more than 150 employees and more than five million users worldwide.

"He's a role model for a lot of young entrepreneurs," says Leo Rothenburg, acting dean for the UW faculty of engineering. He nominated Baker.

"We're very proud of him."

Baker's company has a charity committee -- ACTION -- that initiates companywide competitions such as food bank drives.

Baker also opens up his company to co-op students from local high schools, colleges and universities.

Baker has offered free online education to schools affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and is working to provide an eLearning platform to a medical school in Rwanda.

Baker has donated $60,000 to the University of Guelph's Open Learning bursary program.

When he started the business, Baker never expected it to be as successful as it is.

"It's incredibly enriching to see how far we've come," he says.