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2023 ‘Young Frontrunner’ Honoree Maya Penn Is Teaching Sustainable Entrepreneurship

2023 ‘Young Frontrunner’ Honoree Maya Penn Is Teaching Sustainable Entrepreneurship

She truly believes that everybody can do something!

Maya Penn got her start in sustainable fashion when she was just 8 years old, launching a line of artisan-crafted accessories and clothing made from organic, recycled, and reused materials. She began to learn more about eco-designing and sustainability practices in business, using her talents as an artist, animator, and her budding fashion platform to speak on environmental justice issues. In 2011, she launched her nonprofit, Maya’s Ideas 4 The Planet, supporting communities in the U.S., Haiti, Senegal, Somalia, and Cameroon by focusing on issues of environmental justice, climate anxiety, and diversity in the tech and STEM sectors. 

“From a young age, I got an understanding of how everyone has an impact on their community and the world. Growing up in Georgia, a heart of the civil rights movement, I’ve had the honor of receiving wisdom, and awards from leaders in civil rights and environmental justice who’ve paved the way for voices like mine to be heard,” Maya told Because Of Them We Can. 

In 2016 she was commissioned to create an animated film by the Obama administration, making history with the first-ever digital report to Congress that focused on advocating for the building of a Women’s History museum. Now the 22-year-old has expanded her work even further, launching a production company, Uppendo! Productions and authoring a book, “You Got This,” currently being used in schools globally to teach youth about the importance of sustainable entrepreneurship. For Maya, who's constantly thinking of ways to elevate her work, knowing how to fix an issue is the first step to getting involved. She is currently working on an animated short film, executive produced by Viola Davi’s JuVee Productions, which addresses issues of environmental justice. 

“I’m a solutions-based activist. It’s so important for people to know what can be done because that fuels action, empowerment, and hope. Whether it’s the way I’ve studied and teach classes on biomimicry, or grassroots initiatives I’ve launched through my nonprofit…I’m always passionate about showing people the power of their unique voice,” said Maya. 

Maya is a 3 time TED speaker and holds certifications in Circular Economies and Sustainable Business from Cambridge Business School. She hopes to continue using her expertise to advocate for environmentally safe practices while focusing on diversity and climate storytelling under her production company banner. 

“I’m always working to create a future, where equity, sustainability, joy, art, intergenerational collaboration, collectivism, ancestry, conscious innovation, and well-being, are accessibly woven into our lives and communities,” she explained. 

To learn more about Maya’s work, visit

Congratulations Maya on becoming one of BOTWC’s 2023 Young Frontrunners. Because of you, we can! To view all the amazing 2023 Young Frontrunners, visit

Cover photo: 2023 ‘Young Frontrunner’ honoree Maya Penn is teaching sustainable entrepreneurship/Photo Courtesy of Maya Penn/BecauseOfThemWeCan