Washington — To Amal Kabalan and her fellow entrepreneurs, the plight of schoolchildren in Guinea presents a fairly basic need that inspired a simple but creative business response. Guineans don’t have much access to energy for light. Kids wear backpacks. Why not attach a solar-powered device to the backpacks, collect energy on the walk to school, and then use the stored energy to power lamps so the children could study at night?
The idea earned the 27-year-old Lebanon native $3,000 in seed money to start the venture with her new business partners — people she had met just days before and who had been selected by Athgo International, a nonprofit organization that sponsored the competition in partnership with the World Bank Speakers Bureau.