Shape a brighter future? These grads are on it.
If you ever thought a young adult is too inexperienced to make a difference, you haven’t met the participants in the Institute on the Environment’s Acara impact entrepreneurship program.
Through Acara, students from colleges across the University of Minnesota build practical business skills and global experiences while simultaneously launching impactful entrepreneurial ventures aimed at addressing global grand challenges. They are motivated to change the world for the better, and many who participate in the program go on to do so during their careers.
While we’ve worked with more than 110 University of Minnesota students in the 2014–15 academic year, there are several exceptional graduating students who will be pursuing Acara experiences through Acara Fellowships, which provide teams with up to $6,000 per team to pursue their ventures.
Lighting Up India
Robin Walz is a co-founder of Stimulight, a renewable energy business that seeks to improve the quality of life in rural India through the use of clean and reliable LED lights driven by solar-powered microgrids in place of kerosene lamps. Following a few months in his home country of France, Walz is partnering with SELCO India from August to November 2015 to work with its team and communities in rural Orissa, India, launching solar energy operations and thereby bringing solar energy access to communities that have never before had access to grid power. Walz is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Science and Engineering in May 2015.
Aika Mengi is co-founder of E-Grove, an electronic waste management company seeking to address the need for improved access to electronics recycling options in the U.S. and India. E-Grove will pilot its innovative collection model in cooperation with Tech Dump in Minnesota in summer 2015 and will transition to pilot in India in winter 2015. Mengi will be the first U.S.-based Acara fellow to partner with a local social enterprise. Mengi is graduating with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in May 2015.
Good Water, Good Health
Anna Schulte is co-founder of Ripple, which helps water purification and testing companies connect their products and services with rural markets to improve health in rural communities. Following Acara’s three-week India study abroad program in June 2015, Schulte will pursue a fellowship with Swasti, a health resource center focused on public health outcomes for socially excluded and low-income populations, while exploring the Ripple business model in India. Schulte is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing education from the College of Education and Human Development in May 2015. She will pursue a master of public health degree beginning in Fall 2015.
Erin Kayser is co-founder of Apis Krishi. This agricultural venture aims to help rural Indian farmers leave the cycle of poverty by promoting beekeeping education and removing the financial risk of beekeeping. After completing Acara’s India global seminar, Kayser will partner with Last Forest in rural Tamil Nadu, India, for a three-month fellowship to support the development of beekeeping in the region. She will develop an online portal for beekeepers as well as work with farmers to enhance adoption and improve efficiency of beekeeping operations. Erin is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the College of Science and Engineering in May 2015.
Photo courtesy of Acara