Inspiring Change: Ashoka Fellow’s visit to ASU

As a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 16 and 17, students had a unique opportunity to interact with leading social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Greg Van Kirk. He met with 4 different classes and shared his story and idea that made him an Ashoka Fellow.

Students from the GlobalResolve class, a capstone course that works together with a range of partners to develop sustainable programs in the developing world, received one on one advice to advance their projects. David Metoyer, a student in the Global Resolve class, was thankful for the opportunity to interact with Greg.

I thank him for sharing his story with GlobalResolve and providing his experienced opinion to a group of young entrepreneurial-minded students hoping to influence constructive change around the globe.

Greg Van Kirk began his career as an investment banker. After 5 years, he decided to drop his successful career and join the PeaceCorps in Guatemala where he hoped to use his business skills to create a large scale impact. During his 2 years of service, he started a restaurant and funded local businesses to stimulate job creation in Nebaj, a small town in Guatemala.  Inspired by his work in Guatemala and driven by the desire to reduce poverty and unemployment in rural Latin America, he created the MicroConsignment Model (MCM).

MCM creates access to health care-related goods and services in isolated rural communities by empowering local people to become entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs, often women, are consigned health-care related goods and are given the skills and support to effectively sell them. Once the goods have been sold, they pay back the cost of the good, keep the profit and invest in more products. The MCM provides a sustainable model for economic development that fills the gap between donations and microfinance by eliminating the need for start-up capital and consigning the good rather than loaning the good. To learn more about the MCM, check out Greg’s interview on CNN Money.

Greg also met with winners of last year’s ASU Innovation Challenge, “It was very valuable to have someone of his experience explain the business operations in undeveloped areas,” said Raphael Hyde who was funded for his team’s idea to create a device meant to bring electric light to villages in rural Africa.

At ASU, students who want to change the world are given the tools and the resources to advance their ideas. Not only do student get opportunities to interact with leading social entrepreneurs and apply for different funding sources, but there are always new events an opportunities going on to foster innovation and idea sharing.

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