Think Tank Shark Tank 2021 finalists hail from Nepal, Puerto Rico, and Ukraine
Every year, Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner features the Think Tank Shark Tank competition. Contestants each give a five-minute pitch of their project to a panel of judges who then have the opportunity to ask questions for further information or clarification. The 2021 Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in Miami will feature three contestants from three continents. The winner will walk away with US$25,000 to use toward making their project a reality. This year Basanta Adhikari (Bikalpa—An Alternative, Nepal), Daniil Lubkin (Ukrainian Students for Freedom, Ukraine), and Tere Nolla (The Center for Economic Renewal, Growth and Excellence, Puerto Rico) will pitch their projects at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner.
Bikalpa-An Alternative, Nepal
Nepal-based partner Bikalpa–An Alternative is leveraging the power of individuals to change the political conversation in Nepal. A lack of economic freedom has held the country back for far too long, and changing this will require convincing the people of Nepal to think differently about entrepreneurship, economic freedom, and their own potential. Bikalpa has been pursuing this through grassroots efforts, and the next step in this approach is the volunteer-based phase of their “Economic Freedom Campaign.”
On why his project is important, Basanta Adhikari, director of Bikalpa, said, “Nepal ranks among the poorest economies in the world. At Bikalpa, we believe Nepal is poor because we lack economic freedom. Now it is time to redirect the mainstream political discourse towards the economy, so every Nepali is free to pursue their livelihood and prosper in their own country. We believe our economic freedom campaign will play an important role in starting the much needed discourse in Nepalese society.”
The Economic Freedom Campaign aims to bring attention to the need for a prosperity-friendly environment in Nepal. In particular, they want to highlight the core values of freedom of enterprise, rule of law and security of life and property, freedom of choice and competition, and accountable and limited government in the minds of both lawmakers and everyday people. This campaign is already underway, and Bikalpa has published op-eds and press releases, run educational events, produced videos, and leveraged social media. Now, they’re ready to take the next step. This will entail engaging 38 young volunteers—two from each municipality in the city of Biratnagar—to reach out to local communities and governments. These volunteers will be brought on for a year-long program, which will start by educating them on the principles of individual and economic freedom. From there, they will take part in Bikalpa’s general activities as well as spreading the message of the Economic Freedom Campaign in their home communities. By transforming the discussion at the grassroots level, Bikalpa plans to bring prosperity and freedom to people across the city of Biratnagar and the country of Nepal.
Ukrainian Students for Freedom, Ukraine
Belarus’ Lukashenko regime has gone to extreme lengths to silence dissent, even going so far as to force a commercial flight to land in Minsk to storm the plane to arrest Roman Protasevich, a journalist and freedom advocate. To support Belarussian activists inside and outside the country and help them become more effective, Ukrainian Students for Freedom plans to launch the “Freer Belarus” project.
Daniil Lubkin, CEO of Ukrainian Students for Freedom, said this project is important because "right now is a crucial moment when the liberty movement has to unite around Belarus. We have to put maximum effort to support the liberty movement that started during the protests of 2020. We as Ukrainian Students for Freedom are uniquely positioned to help that cause: we have experience of work with Belarusian activists during our Belarusian Leadership Program, we have enough resources to organize such a project, and most importantly we have trust of people who are still inside Belarus and afraid for their safety. We will work to make Belarus a freer and safer place."
“Freer Belarus” will be a three-stage training course for individuals working for economic and individual liberty in Belarus. The first stage will be open to 50 students who will participate in a four-week online study program. Top students from the first part will progress to stage two involving three days of in-person instruction in Ukraine. The highest-achieving students from the in-person training will be eligible for five-month paid internship opportunities at the Institute for Economic Leadership and the Scientific Research Mises Center. As a part of their internship, these students will produce a report on achieving a freer Belarus.
The Center for Economic Renewal, Growth and Excellence, Puerto Rico
In recent years, Puerto Rico has been troubled by natural disasters, debt crises, and economic hardships, but despite these hurdles the island’s entrepreneurs carry on. Their perseverance is a testament to their self-reliance and determination. The Center for Economic Renewal, Growth and Excellence (CRECE) wants to record and tell their stories, both to celebrate their successes and to inspire other Puerto Ricans to consider entrepreneurship a viable path to prosperity. To do this, they plan to launch “Portraits of Prosperity: A Puerto Rican Perspective.”
Tere Nolla, of CRECE, said, “to build a thriving and prosperous Puerto Rico, we must instill the values of entrepreneurship in our youth, so they understand this is a viable path to progress. Through Portraits of Prosperity, we hope to inspire curiosity about entrepreneurship, raise awareness of entrepreneurial realities in PR, and rouse support for policies that encourage economic freedom. The project will allow us to promote a mindset of hopeful transformation, rather than pessimistic dependency inflicted by poor economic performance, careless fiscal policies and the depletion caused by constant natural disasters."
Portraits of Prosperity will invite high school and college students to document the power of entrepreneurs through photography projects. They hope to get at least 50 students involved, who will be sent a brief video on economic freedom, entrepreneurship, and prosperity. Once students have submitted their photography, CRECE will take the art on tour across the island. Accompanied by interviews with the photographers and entrepreneurs involved, the photography will be compiled into a short film and distributed on social media. CRECE hopes to gain the attention of the U.S. Congress and help inform their decision-making on the island’s future.