William & Mary

AidData research assistants attend select Global Innovation Forum

This past August, International Relations major Alex Atkins ’13 and Kedar Pavgi ’11 were part of a select group of 100 young entrepreneurs and college students from more than 25 countries invited to attend Athgo International’s 4th Global Innovation Forum on Climate Change and Constructive Entrepreneurship.

The two were chosen because of their involvement with AidData, the largest open database on project-level development finance in the world.

AidData is a partnership between the College of William & Mary, Brigham Young University and Development Gateway, a non-profit organization that provides information tools and services to support international development. Atkins and Pavgi are both past research assistants with AidData.

The Global Innovation Forum, which was held at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., focused on encouraging individual action and involvement in climate change issues through constructive entrepreneurship. Though Atkins and Pavgi did not present work on AidData at the World Bank, their time with the project helped prepare them for the forum by teaching them about the field of development assistance, including its purposes and goals.

 “Going into Athgo, I had a good grasp on the issues confronting the world, especially in the field of climate change,” said Pavgi.

Of the many presentations given during the three-day event, one  mentioned the collaborative efforts of AidData and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.  “It was really cool seeing the work that we had been a part of on a screen presented as actual international undertaking,” Pavgi added. 

While in D.C., the conference organizers assigned the William & Mary students to two different entrepreneurial teams. Pavgi’s group designed a bKedar Pavgi and Dr. Muhammad Yunususiness model to start a composting company in a small town.

“The idea was to collect food waste, create compost, and sell it back to local farmers at a lower cost than traditional fertilizer," he said. "We added a social benefit to this venture, in that by accepting the cheaper compost, the farmer would agree to distribute fresh food and produce to lower-income families in that community.” 

Even though presenting their proposed solutions to a room full of established stakeholders was a bit intimidating, Pavgi remained focused on how fortunate they were to be a part of such a unique opportunity.  The most memorable moment for him was hearing Nobel Prize Winner and Grameen Bank founder Dr. Muhammad Yunus speak.

 “I have been a fan of his work for quite some time, and it was awesome to hear him speak. To top it off, I also got a picture with him!” 

Current W&M sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in interning and researching with AidData should contact bodonnell@aiddata.org for more information, and look for public announcements of the AidData hiring process in January 2012.