Woman of the Week: Mahika Halepete

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Hey babes! We were so incredibly touched to get to interview our next Woman of the Week, Mahika Halepete! Mahika is the founder of AYANA International, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed to harness the potential of youth from across the globe to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Where did she start?


Mahika founded Ayana last year at just 14 years old. She has since designed the Youth Innovation Lab workshop, a weeklong incubator for the ideas of young people that allows them to learn and apply skills in leadership, teamwork & collaboration, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, empathy + human-centered design, strategic planning and more to address community issues.

Ayana has funded projects that have reached over 2,500+ community members, all designed entirely by young people who were members of the communities the solutions were designed for.

Mahika got the inspiration being a young person herself, concerned both at the failure of unsustainable aid programs which she read about over the summer after her freshman year of high school, plus the need to tap the potential of young people and inspire young leaders as early as possible so they can channel their energy into changemaking.

What else did we learn about Mahika?


Favorite Book: “I love Brene Brown’s books!”

Favorite Beverage: “SuperFruit Green Juice by Evolution Fresh”

What are you passionate about?

“I am passionate about youth empowerment, sustainable development, and using human-centered design to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

What do you do really, really well?

“I’m a really strong creative problem-solver. I think one of my strongest assets is how I see problems as opportunities to design solutions. My brain works best when I am doing and creating. I love working with other people and am good at relating to others and understanding others’ greatest strengths to form teams that are stronger than the sum of their individual parts.”

If you could do anything with your time (regardless of obligations and finances), what would you do?

“When I am older, I would love to work full-time as a development consultant for a large foundation or nonprofit. I want to work to transform outdated systems of foreign aid/philanthropy to developing countries and help people see the strong benefits there are to human-centered design’s applications in development — designing with and for disadvantaged communities.”


To learn more about Mahika and her nonprofit, visit AYANA International.

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