Mind Riot Winners: The Kokonut Project

The Kokonut Project evolved from a great idea: a nonprofit organization that would allow various countries to generate profit by selling their own artisan goods. The earnings would then go towards purchasing solar panels to power their villages.

This idea was born out of Mind Riot, The Leonardo’s competition for budding entrepreneurs. The contest proved to the teen girls on the Kokonut Project team that their idea had real potential. After a lot of hard work towards an effort they are passionate about, the team has begun developing the project into a benefit corporation, which will sell native products such as “Coconut Purses” from El Salvador, wool jackets and foods from Mexico, and maternal items from an organization called D’ Mama.

The Kokonut Project is a prime example of the importance of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs can contribute greatly to society by creating jobs and even enacting social change. Entrepreneurial enterprises present as an opportunity for grass roots, local business ideas to be seen by the public, and sometimes grow into household names. Without entrepreneurs, we would not have Disney, Apple, or many, many other organization.

One of the amazing things about entrepreneurship is its accessibility. Although it takes a lot of work to succeed as an entrepreneur, virtually anyone with enough ambition and a good idea can start their own business. It’s no secret that starting your own business comes with many risks. However, most entrepreneurs are passionate enough to look past the possible dangers. For example, the Kokonut Project team found their passion from D’ Mama, a group of mothers of children with cerebral palsy who make and sell maternal items. The Kokonut Project found that D’ Mama struggled with profits because of being limited to selling in El Salvador. D’ Mama’s story inspired the team at the Kokonut Project to work with that organization and other local, hardworking people and groups to provide them with stable jobs and incomes by expanding their markets.

Another cool thing about the world of entrepreneurs is its emerging female presence. According to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, women now make up 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the United States. A Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey showed that in both 2011 and 2016, entrepreneurship rates for women rose by 13 percent, while male rates rose by just 5 percent. Female entrepreneurs have given us products such as Spanx, Harry Potter, and The American Red Cross. Strong women business leaders serve as amazing role models to young girls, and can inspire female entrepreneurs of the future, like the girls on the Kokonut Project team.

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