Athgo’s mission is to empower young people aged 18–32 to develop business plans for ventures that are profitable while being socially beneficial and environmentally friendly. During the second week in August, the organization brought 100 young entrepreneurs from 30 different countries to the World Bank, where the participants huddled in teams to come up with small, green technology commercial plans.
The ventures show that profit and social responsibility can co-exist, said Armen Orujyan, chairman and president of Athgo. “Here, we take advocacy and apply it in real terms by way of entrepreneurship. We call it ‘constructive entrepreneurship,’’’ said Orujyan, one of the judges of the competition. For example, instead of simply doing advocacy work to counter the effects of climate change, Athgo encourages for-profit business ventures aimed at environmentally friendly goals.
In the case of the “Solar Brite’’ knapsacks — to be marketed with the slogan “Fuel for Thought’’ — the social impact is broad. Not only do the backpacks reduce the need for unhealthy kerosene lamps, but they will boost learning among female students in particular, the winning team said. Many students go outside at night to read by streetlamps or car lights, but girls are usually kept indoors for safety, Kabalan said, making it harder for them to keep up with homework. While the backpacks would be expensive — as much as $130 — the items could be purchased by governments as an education expense, by nongovernmental organizations or by American hikers in a position to pay full cost
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