YouthTrade Summit 2012
- Category: Featured
- Published Date
The YouthTrade Summit
We want to begin by thanking Microsoft Corporation for providing us with their conference center appropriately called NERD (New England Research and Development) located at One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, with breathtaking views of the Charles River. We also want to thank Robert Hoxter for service above and beyond the call of duty.
The day began early with Lindsay Stephenson (who has earned the favorite person status at YouthTrade!) lovingly setting up the Whole Foods Market breakfast, as the entrepreneurs poured in from all over the world to set up their festive exhibition tables. At 10:30 am the Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Region team walked the YouthTrade show and checked out the mission driven entrepreneurs and their products which ranged from ayurvedic drinks, snacks, chocolates to products from West Africa and hammocks!
The afternoon session began with a delicious lunch provided by Whole Foods Market and a warm welcome by Kimberley Rose, Vice President Purchasing and Merchandising who shared her commitment to YouthTrade, introduced her wonderful team, and shared the values of Whole Foods Market - it was an inspiring presentation and set the stage for other team members to share their roles. We learned first-hand from the top tier purchasing team in the region how to successfully launch products into a profitable market. Quinn Popcorn founders Coulter and Kristy Lewis shared their journey as young entrepreneurs and the incredible support they received every step of the way from Whole Foods Market.
Poonam Ahluwalia, founder and President of YES then took the stage to share how YouthTrade was invented as a contribution to Conscious Capitalism. She introduced her energetic team and the audience was dazzled by the 30 sec pitches from the mission-driven YouthTrade entrepreneurs. It ended with a heartrending pitch from Hafsat Abiola, founder KIND Nigeria who shared her promise to Nigeria youth, and how her commitment was built on the blood shed by her parents. Her father was the first democratically elected President of Nigeria who was imprisoned and killed by the military dictator, and her mother, who was assassinated as she protested the imprisonment. She made a tearful plea to all gathered to attend to the needs of the youth of Nigeria and Africa. While here she also participated in filming for a documentary being produced on her life and her work.
Two special African guests, who added their charm, commitment and knowledge to the event were Edson Mugore representing African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), from Zimbabwe, and Tendai Pasipanodya, who represented Youth Employment Network (YEN), West Africa Office. With ACBF we are just about to launch YouthTrade Nigeria and with YEN we are plotting and planning to get Fair Trade and non-GMO certification for many of the products she brought from youth entrepreneurs from Guinea, and Sierra Leone such as exotic chili’s, and 3 varieties honey with hints of rain forest, cocoa and coffee based upon where the bees were raised.
A special shout out to André Porter, executive director of Massachusetts OSBE, Bobbie Carlton, director Mass Innovation Nights, and Rachel Greenberger, director of Food Sol Babson for honoring us with their presence.
After the afternoon presentation the YouthTrade show was open to public and well attended.
On March 16th, each YouthTrade Entrepreneur had the unique opportunity to sit down in one-on-one meeting with the regional merchandising teams from Whole Foods Market at the North Atlantic Headquarters in Cambridge, MA. These meetings proved to hold great value both to the YouthTrade entrepreneurs and the Whole Foods Market team. The astonishing outcome of these meetings was a wholehearted commitment from Whole Foods Market to place YouthTrade certified products on the shelves of all 28 North Atlantic Whole Foods Markets, starting with the YouthTrade Product Launch on May 21, 2012.
The inaugural YouthTrade Summit accomplished more than we thought was possible, inspiring our YouthTrade entrepreneurs to continue pursuing their dreams. Jeannette Eberhardy, a writer was able to briefly meet with each YouthTrade entrepreneur during the event to discuss their individual experiences with the Whole Foods Market team and the YouthTrade initiative. Her glowing response to their sentiments reflects the essence of the YouthTrade mission- helping bring our youths’ brilliant ideas to fruition is both a privilege and a necessity in today’s environment. In Jeannette’s words, “[YouthTrade Entrepreneurial] work represents the essence of what I am writing about: Creating Meaningful Work: What People Do and How It Impacts the World.”