Some innovators become entrepreneurs for the money; others become entrepreneurs because they believe so strongly in the power of their ideas that they need to have them realized. With so much chaos in the world, teens are finding more motivation than ever to affect a change, giving rise to a new generation of creative problem solvers.
Check out these 6 teen entrepreneurs whose bright ideas and passion for change are improving our world:
- Martha Njeri Chumo (Education): Talk about empowerment through education! Martha Njeri Chumo of Kenya raised funds and founded her own school at the age of 18. The Nairobi Dev School was developed to uplift bright, young Africans by providing them with a broad technological skill set. Among the programs provided by Chumo’s school are the Geek Girls Club, which supports entrepreneurial young women in the creation of their own training programs; mobile application development bootcamps in Juba, South Sudan; as well as classes teaching application development and website design. Students of the Dev School have already found success and have been hired as software developers. For her vision and efforts, Chumo was recognized as an Anizisha Prize finalist in 2014.
- Anya Pogharian (Health & Medical): Anya Pogharian was inspired by her volunteer work in a hospital dialysis unit, where she often worked with dialysis machines, designed to mimic kidney function by filtering patients’ blood. As a 17-year-old student in need of a senior science project, Pogharian spent 300 hours and successfully created her own dialysis machine — one that costs a fraction of those currently used by medical institutions. Now Pogharian is pursuing bigger plans: Because her invention costs around $400, as opposed to the market average of $24,000, she plans to use it to benefit impoverished dialysis patients in third-world countries, such as in India and Pakistan.
- Suman Mulumudi (Health & Medical): The son of a cardiologist, Suman Mulumudi was often privy to frustrations his father had with medical supplies. As a teen, he set out to solve one of his father’s problems: stethoscopes sometimes fail to detect quiet heart sounds, calling for the use of expensive echocardiograms, which drive up the cost of health care. In 2014, at the age of 15, Mulumudi invented StethIO, a mobile application that transforms a smartphone into a stethoscope and heart rate monitor. Not only is StethIO more sensitive than the equipment most doctors have in their offices, but it’s less expensive, making it a technology that benefits both Americans and medical efforts in developing countries. Mulumudi is founder and CEO of StratoScientific Inc.
- Erik Finman (Education): In 2012, Erik Finman invested his grandmother’s gift of $1,000 in Bitcoin and made $100,000. With his earnings, 15-year-old Finman invested again — this time to found his own startup. Botangle is an online tutoring platform that connects students with experts on every topic imaginable, around the world. Botangle was created as an answer to Finman’s boredom in school; he’s not convinced that the academic system is for everyone, and Botangle gives everyone access to subjects that satisfy their intellectual curiosity.
- Kai Kloepfer (Gun Safety): Colorado has struggled with its share of gun violence, which has inspired 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, of Boulder, to take gun-control matters into his own hands. Applying biometric user authentication to firearms, Kloepfer invented a system wherein a firearm is rendered unusable unless unlocked by an authorized fingerprint. “Every 30 minutes in the U.S. a kid dies from a gun. I want my gun to help reduce accidental deaths and injuries, and to prevent tragedies,” said Kloepfer. His invention won him $50,000 from the Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, which he’s investing in new supplies to improve his design.
- Kenneth Shinozuka (Health & Medical): Kenneth Shinozuka’s grandfather has Alzheimers. Like other Alzheimer’s patients, his grandfather sometimes leaves bed in the middle of the night and injures himself while wandering around. Shinozuka was moved to help in any way he could and, at the age of 15, invented a small sensor for Alzheimer’s patients to wear on their feet. The motions caused by patients like his grandfather — standing and walking around — activate the sensor and immediately send an alert to their caretakers’ phone. Shinozuka’s invention has the ability to revolutionize care for millions afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and he’s been awarded with the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award.
As the adage goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Whatever the reason you’re aspiring to be an entrepreneur, be inspired by the knowledge that one person — you — can make a difference. Get started by building up your business skill set and joining the young, Jewish entrepreneurial community: Register for Camp Inc.