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Mind Your Own Business

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100_0163.JPGPretty amazing when college students create business plans to help solve environmental and social challenges in developing countries.
Even more amazing when they carry them out.
Most amazing of all: the Acara Challenge. It's guiding and encouraging students from three continents as they work in cross-cultural teams to do both.
Now in its third year, the IonE-supported program brings together students from universities in the U.S. and developing countries to build plans for businesses that address sustainable development challenges such as clean water or clean energy. Teams compete against each other, and the best of the best get funding and a ticket to a summer institute where they shape their vision into rubber-meets-road reality.
Acara Challenge '11 just got underway, with 21 teams from 12 universities in the U.S., India and Mexico developing business solutions for food and water security issues for communities in India and Mexico. Student teams will present their plans to judges in early May. Top teams will win funds to attend the Acara Summer Institute - held this year in India - and get help from volunteer mentors to move their plans toward application. Participating this year are Arizona State University, Cornell University, Duke University, Roosevelt University, University of Hartford, University of Minnesota, Monterrey Tech, K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, IIT Roorkee, KIIT University, VIT and TERI University.
Does it work? One team from last year, MyRain, has already incorporated and is in the process of installing drip irrigation systems in water-starved communities in north-central India.

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  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.