Written by: Maritza Martinez, Fellowship Program Manager
KI EcoCenter youth entrepreneurs and Green For All Fellow Imhotep Adisa with their rain barrel prototype
In many communities around the world, people are struggling for basic access to clean water. Here in the United States, many of us see water as an unlimited resource that we take for granted. But the truth is that much of our country’s water infrastructure is decaying, including in places like Indianapolis, where both unemployment and sewage overflow plague communities. But today, intergenerational entrepreneurship is creating solutions to both problems.
Green For All Fellow Imhotep Adisa, founder of the Kheprw Institute (KI), works with neighborhood youth to develop green businesses in Indianapolis. He runs an accelerator for youth-led enterprises. One example of how the KI EcoCenter trains young entrepreneurs is the aquaponics program they created in 2012. The program is completely designed and operated by Indianapolis youth. The system is designed to grow Tilapia and vegetables to provide nutritious food. They will begin harvesting starting in Spring 2013, They also offer tours for school groups to educate more youth from the community about green entrepreneurship. The aquaponics system serves as a demonstration project for young entrepreneurs to learn, experiment, and get inspired.
Recently, Imhotep and the KI youth launched Express Yourself Rain Barrels, with the support of Green For All’s Fellows Fund Micro-grant. In addition to helping keep stormwater out of the cities overstressed sewers, the rain barrels create entrepreneurial opportunities for community members who aren’t able to work in regular 9-to-5 jobs. Express Yourself Rain Barrels is a fulfillment center that stores, markets and distributes rain barrels created by local entrepreneurs. The company is youth-led: They designed the prototype for the barrels, as well as the company website. And because being green doesn’t have to cramp your style, the rain barrels are even decorated with art created by young people. Check out the site and support this youth-led green business. Express Yourself Rain Barrels is also open to working with organizations to sell rain barrels as a fundraiser for their cause.