On Monday, November 26, the Ideas for Action (I4A) startup accelerator—a joint initiative between the World Bank Group and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School—partnered with two Wharton students, Pallavi Menon and Joud Tabaza, to present recommendations to Starlight, the second-place winner of the 2018 I4A competition. Starlight is a start-up company based in Rwanda that aims to end the use of kerosene lamps in rural villages by providing solar-powered lanterns to these communities and rolling out a STEM program that empowers female students.
Ariane Umuringa, the cofounder of Starlight, connected virtually to the presentation, which was also attended by two World Bank Group officials, Steven Shalita, Manager of Communications for Africa External Communications and Partnerships, and Erick Rabemananoro, Communications Officer for the Africa Region of the World Bank Group. Sixty Wharton students also attended the knowledge exchange.
The presentation began with a welcome note from Djordjija Petkoski, Ideas for Action Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at Wharton’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, who introduced Ms. Umuringa. Ms. Umuringa recounted the story of the founding of Starlight and described her experience as a social entrepreneur in Rwanda. Her account was followed by an address on the developmental potential of Africa by Mr. Shalita. Subsequently, Menon and Tabaza presented their recommendations, which fell under two main strategic areas: diversification and community investment. They put forth a wide array of suggestions that encompassed short-term, medium-term and long-term opportunities for development.
After the other students had the opportunity to ask Ms. Umuringa questions and make additional recommendations, the presentation concluded with a final note from Mr. Shalita. He took the opportunity to reflect on the recommendations and ultimately encouraged the students to show initiative and engage with developmental problems around the world.
The knowledge exchange proved to be a dynamic learning experience for all attendees. As one student remarked, “I really appreciated how relevant the presentation was to what we learned in class.” I4A works to provide valuable opportunities for participants, students and the sustainable development community to grow and connect—and this event was a terrific example of the mutually beneficial convergence of those worlds.