These women have built social networks, developed schools, and designed energy-generating soccer balls. What global issues are these Mothers of Invention tackling next?
Toyota and Women in the World honor Lauren Shweder Biel, founder of the D.C. Greens, as a Mother of Invention.
Locally grown food isn’t just for the Washington elite. D.C. Greens is shaking up the sustainability game by educating classrooms on all things nutrition.
For proof that necessity truly is the mother of invention, look no further than D.C. Greens. The community-driven strategy behind the Washington, D.C.-based organization brings families what they are sorely missing—healthy, sustainable, and affordable nutrition. Executive director and founder Lauren Shweder Biel first took note of the abominable obesity statistics for D.C. youth in 2009, but also saw all of the functional, farmable land and farmers’ markets around the District, and wondered: why the disconnect?
Toyota and Women in the World honor Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, co-founders of the LuminAid disaster-relief lights, as Mothers of Invention.
Replay our live interview with the Liberian firebrand from today's Women in the World: Chicago. Also, meet two female inventors who are bringing light to the powerless, and a Chicago woman changing a neighborhood, one punch at a time.
When a class project turns into a product that helps when infrastructure fails
Anna Stark beams when describing LuminAID, an inflatable and rechargeable light source she and fellow architecture classmate Andrea Sreshta invented as a class project. "I think innovation is synonymous with impact," she says, and by her definition, LuminAID has exceeded all expectations.
The lightbulb first went on after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Stark and Sreshta recognized that most disaster-relief aid focused on providing shelter and food, leaving victims in the dark. They believed that good design and innovative technology could illuminate the victims' darkest hours. They built the first LuminAID prototype in their kitchens, not knowing that a year later, they would have a chance to benefit from their own invention: When an earthquake struck while they were visiting Tokyo, they discovered the profound value of light without power. Experiencing LuminAID's life-altering assistance first-hand gave them the incentive to raise funds for their project.
A year and a half ago four tornadoes cut a forty-mile swath through central Massachusetts taking a sorely unprepared region by storm. Lives were lost, and homes, businesses, and schools were reduced to rubble. The small town of Monson witnessed the biggest twister of the pack, an EF3 tornado with 160 mph wind gusts, leaving the town with no power, no running water, no answers. The damaged Monson home of two college-aged sisters, rendered unlivable, would displace their family for a year.
Those of us who stockpiled all manner of perishables in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy and then lost power for days know the futility of the exercise. After the lights went out we likely wondered if there were some better way to protect our food supplies long enough to actually use them. Somehow these inconveniences seem slight when compared to the urgency of 1.6 billion people in the developing world living with no refrigeration and the prevailing threat that hunger presents, the world’s number one health risk. As much as an astounding 30% of the world’s food supply is lost to spoilage each year.
Use It or Lose It
See how these two enterprising young women have created a worldwide support system that has given girls and women around the world a chance to collaborate and fund their entrepreneurial projects. Mothers of Invention is sponsored by Toyota.
The idea for an innovative virtual community, known as girltank, is rooted in a story of two enterprising young American women. One is a former magazine editor and the other, a Yale University senior. They met and created a support system to give girls and women worldwide a chance to incubate entrepreneurial projects addressing global issues.
Last year, Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman gave social enterprise a new spin that would show the planet how doing good and doing good business didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, Co-Founders, Uncharted Play, Inc.
Last year, Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman gave social enterprise a new spin with the creation of the sOccket, a soccer ball that’s also a portable, eco-friendly energy generator. Now, they are raising the bar again with their new invention, the Ludo.
Talia Leman came up with an effective business model that empowers kids to solve global problems when she was only 10 years old.
At Newsweek / Daily Beast’s Women in the World summit.
Toyota honored female innovators at Newsweek and the Daily Beast’s third annual Women in the World Summit on Saturday, pledging $50,000 in grants. The grants will to go a principal of a Detroit high school for pregnant teens, the 17-year-old founder of Randomkid.org, and to two Harvard graduates who invented a soccer ball that converts play into energy. Asenath Andrews, founder and principal of the Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women in Detroit—whose school helps pregnant teens graduate and succeed at college—received the "Mother of Invention" award alongside Talia Leman, founder of a website that engages kids with social causes, and Jessica O. Matthews and Julie Silverman, whose "Soccket" ball serves as both a toy and an electricity source for kids in rural Africa.
Talia Leman came up with the basis for RandomKid, an organization that enables children to solve problems across the globe, when she was only 10 years old. Eight years later, she’s one of the world’s most effective philanthropists.
At 10 years old, Talia Leman already had the business acumen of a self-made billionaire. After being struck by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she decided to help the storm’s victims by trick-or-treating for coins instead of candy during Halloween—but coins from one kid wouldn’t be enough. She realized that by harnessing the fundraising power of kids across the country, she’d raise more than she could on her own. At that moment, the basis for RandomKid was born. With the help of her parents, Leman mobilized a national network of concerned kids ultimately raising $10 million for hurricane relief almost overnight, putting them in the same league as some of the country’s biggest corporations.
CEO and a Founder of RandomKid, Talia Leman.
When Asenath Andrews saw that pregnant teens in Detroit were being tossed to the side, she created the Catherine Ferguson Academy—a school, home, farm, and safe house rolled into one.
Principal Asenath Andrews has been like a surrogate mother to thousands of teen moms in Detroit. When she first started working with pregnant teens, Andrews taught in a school that was more a space where girls waited to give birth rather than an institution of learning. Dismayed by an early education program that consisted of a giant crib for the babies who weren’t given up for adoption, she decided to create a healthy environment for teen moms and their children by founding the Catherine Ferguson Academy in 1986.
Kavita Shukla, co-founder of Fenugreen, has developed a product that has the potential to revolutionize the food industry. FreshPaper, a five-inch square sheet of paper infused with edible ingredients, proves you can keep produce fresh for up to four times longer than has so far been possible. Mothers of Invention is sponsored by Toyota.