From Brainstorm to Business: Walmart Challenge Semifinalists Announced (1 of 3)
Across the country, students are coming up with brilliant solutions to combat critical problems like lack of clean drinking water in developing countries. But it’s difficult for these students to succeed, as expert mentors and seed funding can be hard to come by in a university setting.
Enter the Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge, where students compete on the regional and national level with their business plans to change the world. The stakes are high: there’s $35,000 in seed money up for grabs, constructive feedback from business and sustainability leaders, and the chance to pitch to C-level Walmart executives at their headquarters in mid-April.
This year, fifty teams joined the competition, and we’re excited to introduce the semifinalists in a three-part series as they head toward the final competition April 12-13 at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, AR. Their ideas span time zones and issues, from improving primary school education in Ghana to providing freshly-prepared meals to under-resourced American communities. There are eight semifinalists – but only three cash prizes. Will one of the teams below bring one of them home?
FORGET-ME-NOT SOURCING (FMNS) | UC Santa Barbara
Team lead: Morgan furst | Region: Southwest
The Big Idea
Forget-Me-Not Sourcing (FMNS) is an online interactive textile library for emerging fashion designers who cannot easily navigate the complex world of environmentally and socially responsible fabrics. FMNS will find and evaluate sustainable fabric manufacturers, consolidating information to create an online library that may be filtered based on a number of factors, including color, fiber, environmental and social benefit, and geographical location. FMNS’ services help designers reach their full potential, at a price they can afford, allowing them to incorporate their responsibility to the planet, compassion for people, and passion for beauty into their designs
Biggest challenge so far?
Presenting our ideas to people who don’t know the apparel industry. Thus, we have been working on simplifying our ideas and refining our business model, so it can be more digestible and easily understood by a larger audience.
What are you most excited about?
Working with Walmart and talking to larger retailers. We wouldn’t have continued researching in this particular direction without the competition. It has allowed us to talk to a greater variety of customers. We’re most excited to share our ideas and hear what others are learning about.
ACCESS ACADEMIES INTERNATIONAL | colorado state university
Team lead: esther akafia | Region: Mountain
Access Academies International (AAI) is a for-profit business in Ghana that provides accessible, quality primary education to address the access gap faced by growing families in Ghana. High-quality elementary schools are either too expensive or inaccessible because of long traveling distance.
AAI fills this gap by implementing a modular and accessible school system that allows rapid expansion.
What has the Walmart Challenge experience been like for your team so far?
Winning the Regional competition re-energized our team and reconfirmed that our business idea was a good one that would make a tremendous impact in developing the future leaders of Ghana and beyond.
What's most surprised you about the experience?
We were pleasantly surprised and most excited that a business that seeks to create access to quality and affordable education in Africa won the regional competition. It made me realize that Net Impact and Walmart were equally committed to creating solutions to solve some of the global problems of our time, and that problems in Africa are no exception.
Congratulations to all our regional winners! Stay tuned for more from the next batch of semifinalists next week.