2013 Launch Pad Award

Developing an artisanal diamond mind to provide an ethical supply of diamonds and invest back in the community

Founder: Rachel Lichte

Venture: The Clarity Project

What happened: Rachel, an MBA/MEM, spent much of her third year in Sierra Leone, where she worked with the community, built a team, and acquired rights to a diamond mine. Unfortunately, operational challenges and the ebola outbreak in 2014 required her to shut down. In Sierra Leone, Rachel saw the role that technology played in creating economic opportunities in impoverished regions.

Dan Heath: “Rachel picked an exceptionally hard mountain to climb as an entrepreneur, and even so, she almost pulled it off. I have so much admiration for change agents who ‘get in the muck’—who aren’t brainstorming in a conference room but immerse themselves in the front-line reality of their work. Rachel got in the muck, metaphorically and literally. She would send pictures of her and her team digging in the mine she secured in Sierra Leone. If it hadn’t been for the ebola outbreak in 2014, I honestly think she would have done the impossible.”

Rachel Lichte: “The Seed Prize helped me de-risk a risky pursuit. It gave me the resources needed to explore and develop Clarity Project’s next big step – a responsible artisanal mining operation. I was able to spend focused time in Sierra Leone, hire much needed technical consultants, vet partners in person, and build out a mining team. With this critical input, we were able to craft a strong pitch to investors. And, it worked. We attracted additional funding that fall.”