While Red Bull may not be a brand people immediately associate with social impact, the Red Bull Amaphiko project has started to change all that. And Baltimore’s emergence as a leading social impact city in the U.S. is a big part of the story.

Red Bull Amaphiko, a global program that supports social entrepreneurs, is coming to the U.S. for the first time starting March 1. “Amaphiko” translates to “wings” in the South African language of Zulu, the program’s origin country – and aims to bring together and uplift individuals from around the U.S. who are using their talent and energy to tackle social issues in their community.

“We often say, the people who are closest to the challenges in their community, are often closest to the solutions, and the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy was built around that belief,” says Michelle Geiss, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Baltimore, a community partner to Red Bull Amaphiko.

Red Bull Amaphiko’s primary platform is the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy. The Academy begins with a 10-day residency program that brings together hand selected social entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with some of the world’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and storytellers. The 10-day residency is followed by an 18-month individually tailored development program that further helps the social entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life.

Baltimore was selected as the host city because it continues its emergence as a leading social impact hub in the U.S. In just the past few years, Charm City has been the home to the Social Innovation Lab at John Hopkins University, the Front Lines of Innovation event in summer 2016 and Light City’s Social Innovation Conference.

“Your business can only survive and thrive if it is built on a solid foundation. That foundation is not a business plan, it’s you. It’s the individual who defines themselves, who is bold enough to call themselves a social entrepreneur,” said Thato Kgatlhanye, a graduate of the 2014 Red Bull Amaphiko Academy in South Africa and recipient of the ELLE International Impact 2 Award and the prestigious Anzisha Prize, the premier award for African entrepreneurs aged 15-22 who have developed businesses that positively impact their community. Thato’s company, Rethaka manufactures school bags from recycled plastic, which harnesses wearable solar technology during the day to provide a light source for a child to study at night.

 

The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy will begin in Baltimore, MD this August. Applications for participation are open from March 1, 2017 and close on April 30, 2017. For more information and to register, visit: www.amaphiko.redbull.com/en/academy/us-2017