Each spring, the City of Little Rock kicks off a new year of sustainability by hosting the Sustainability Summit. The Summit provides central Arkansas residents the opportunity to learn, network, and leverage their sustainability efforts with the efforts of others.
Clinton School student Karen Zuccardi (Bogotá, Colombia), whose upcoming International Public Service Project with Avani is focused on sustainability, also serves on Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission. She had the opportunity to speak to the more than 300 attendees of the summit, held Thursday, March 29 at Robinson Auditorium.
“One thing that makes the Clinton School unique and special is it allows us to do an international project in our area of passion,” Zuccardi said at the summit. “My area of passion happens to be sustainability. I’ll be doing my international project with Avani in Indonesia this summer. Avani is a social enterprise with technology-driven solutions for our global plastic problem.”
Zuccardi and other members of the City of Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission distributed biodegradable bags to all attendees as an example of Avani’s work.
Avani’s vision is to become the nation’s leading pioneer in sustainable alternatives, offering eco-friendly packaging products ranging from shopping bags, F&B packaging, and hotel amenities.
Zuccardi’s path to working with Avani began in the early weeks of her time with the Clinton School. She first heard about the social enterprise on social media in the fall of 2017. After browsing its website, she reached out to Avani to try to learn more about how to get involved.
She didn’t hear back initially, but through her work on Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission learned that Avani was looking to bring its products to American cities. She finally spoke with Avani CEO Kevin Kumala in December. Kumala said he would review her information and follow up in early 2018.
Once the pair finally had their interview in January, Terry Mazany, an adjunct professor at the Clinton School currently teaching Social Entrepreneurship, helped Zuccardi prepare.
Kumala told Zuccardi he had done his research on the Clinton School of Public Service, studied her resume, and they wanted her to help Avani do business and market analysis for Latin America and North America.
Her other duties with Avani include marketing communication for the local Bali market; assisting with the possibility of setting up cassava bag production machinery in Little Rock through proper due diligence method; transfer of knowledge behind Avani products; and assisting Avani with its road shows.
Zuccardi leaves for Bali on May 16. She hopes to extend her work with Avani into her Capstone project as well.
“I’m very thankful to everyone in the city who has given me the opportunity to dream, do research, and see what we can bring from Indonesia to Little Rock, Arkansas.”