GNN.org is the exclusive media partner for the 2018 ‘Global Good Fund’ Fellows—12 extraordinary young social entrepreneurs who are making the world a better place. Chosen annually, the 12 Fellows are each matched with an executive mentor, leadership coach, and $10,000. Hand-selected from 2,400 applicants in 100 countries, these visionaries are being celebrated—one each day on GNN—leading up to the 6th Annual Global Good Fund Gala, on April 26.
When Makeda Ricketts was in high school, she was president of her high school math club. Filled with fascination for engineering and technology, she would spend her spare time building complex structures out of staples.
Her pre-teen sister, on the other hand, is a different type of girl.
Makeda noticed her sister had started losing interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, and she became determined to find educational toys or products to keep the youngster engaged. For Makeda, this was a way to create common interests between the two of them, and stay connected with her sister despite their age and social differences.
Makeda’s sister is not the only one, either – every day, millions of girls lose interest in STEM, which leads to economic ramifications for society. Only 1 in 4 women work in STEM, and those who do earn 33% more money than women who don’t.
“I want young girls to see the opportunities and possibilities STEM offers in terms of career development, economic empowerment, and the creativity that comes from it,” Makeda explains.
In 2013, Makeda realized the lack of fun, incentivizing products on the market and created PinkThink: an educational technology company that sells cStyle bracelets that teach coding skills. PinkThink creates innovative wearables that make STEM powerful, relevant and engaging.
In one game, PinkThink users are make believe product engineers, developing and marketing virtual nail polish. In another, they are programmers that use a drag and drop coding language to program the lights on a bracelet.
Makeda’s mission is to encourage girls aged 8-14 to pursue STEM today so that they can increase the number of women with STEM careers in the future. When taught at a young age, this experiential type of learning will carry on with students for a lifetime.
Though Makeda was not a PinkThink girl, she’s grateful for her curious nature and learning abilities that have helped her be successful in building the business.
Makeda has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including the Yale School of Management Business Plan Competition, Maker of the Year by International Alley Awards, and named by Chicago Scholars as one of the 35 under 35 Leaders Making an Impact.
She has also been featured in Huffington Post and was recognized by Chicago Woman Magazine as a 2016 “Woman to Watch”.
STEM jobs are abundant and growing. Makeda’s sister, once a young girl with little interest in education, now dreams of becoming an engineer, and is enrolled in camp to further explore her passion.
Through its Fellowship program launched in 2012, The Global Good Fund invests in high potential leaders committed to social impact worldwide. It also created the 360 MIRROR – the first evidence-based leadership assessment for social entrepreneurs and CEOs.
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