Red Bull is best known for energy drinks (and content), but the big company is involved in backing lots of other activities. One of those is an effort to help do-gooding entrepreneurs develop their ventures. And we’re about to see it firsthand locally.
The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy previously helped four cohorts of social entrepreneurs in South Africa and Brazil. It’s coming to the the U.S. this year, and Baltimore will be its base of operations.
On Wednesday, Red Bull Amaphiko announced plans to bring 10-15 entrepreneurs from around the country to Baltimore in August for a 10-day residency at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute Cultural Center in Mt. Vernon.
For the entrepreneurs, that’s followed by an 18-month development program that’s tailored to each entrepreneur. There’s also broader connections to a global network and resources like a digital media platform that a big brand offers.
Along with the announcement, applications also opened on Wednesday.
While participants will be selected on a national level, the program also offers exposure for Baltimore’s growing community of social entrepreneurs.
Along with Impact Hub Baltimore, which opened at Centre Theater in Station North last year, Red Bull Amaphiko’s announcement showed some knowledge of the local scene, citing Baltimore Corps, Johns Hopkins’ Social Innovation Lab and an event organized with the White House last year that featured Thread’s Sarah Hemminger among others as existing convening points, and signs of the city’s budding social entrepreneurship community.
Impact Hub Baltimore Executive Director Michelle Geiss said Red Bull Amaphiko representatives reached out through the national Impact Hub network two years ago. As interest grew, they toured the city and held sessions for brainstorming and feedback with social entrepreneurs and others from the community.
Geiss said they showed a willingness to listen, and a desire to support existing work here that doesn’t already have institutional backing.
“On both sides of the equation, people felt like there was an opportunity to tell the story of what’s going on in Baltimore on a bigger scale,” she said.