Weatherhead alumna Leigh Orne, co-founder of Activyst, helps girls in developing countries through sports | Weatherhead

Weatherhead alumna Leigh Orne, co-founder of Activyst, helps girls in developing countries through sports

Posted 3.29.2013

Leigh OrneWhen her college friend and tennis teammate Katie Rock began wondering how participation in sports could benefit the lives of girls in developing countries, Weatherhead alumna Leigh Orne, MBA ’11, wanted to be involved. She worked in concert with Rock and mutual friend Blair Warner to start Activyst, a company that produces creatively designed athletic bags for women. A portion of all proceeds are donated to nonprofit organizations that support girls’ involvement in sports around the globe. Their first partner, Soccer Without Borders (SWB), will be working with Activyst to build a soccer field in Nicaragua.

Unfortunately, females are often overlooked as essential leaders in the betterment of society. Orne and her colleagues at Activyst cite research through the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other international organizations showing that programs for girls receive less than half a cent of every dollar of international aid. According to these authorities, when girls suffer, so does society, as disease, illiteracy, birth rates, maternal mortality and health costs soar. It is this critical connection between girls and society that Activyst hopes to balance through promoting sports. When girls play sports, a slew of health issues decline, from teen pregnancy to drug use, and livelihood conditions improve as girls reach higher levels of education and develop crucial skills.

The fruition of years of research and production, Activyst went live on March 15, 2013, with the launch of their website through the crowdfunding site Having reached their initial goal of $25,000 in just three days to fund SWB in Nicaragua, Orne, Rock and Warner hope to reach their new $50,000 stretch goal to support an SWB girls’ team in Uganda. “We love this cause,” remarks Orne. “Starting a company has been an extraordinarily challenging and rewarding experience that I could not have done without the knowledge I gained at Weatherhead.”

Their stylish and practical bags are now available for preorder through the Activyst homepage and donations are welcome through their indiegogo profile. View Activyst's promotional video.

Interested in learning more about Weatherhead programs? Request more information or apply now, or register for one of over 70 open enrollment courses through Executive Education.

Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.