TNP: Incubating Ideas -Fall 2017

by: Joshua H. Balling

Craig Arnold was just four years out of Nantucket High School when he attended the second Nantucket Project in 2012 on an Inquirer and Mirror fellowship.

The budding entrepreneur, who had spent time in Ghana on an exchange program in high school, had been thinking about starting up a sustainable-agriculture operation in the west African nation, but hadn’t yet gotten it off the ground.

The connections he made and the inspiration he took from the Project – the island’s answer to TED Talks and the Aspen Ideas Festival – not only galvanized his resolve to continue working in Africa, but convinced him to save his own money to return to the Project the following year.

Since then, he’s started two farms in Ghana, launched a venture-capital and holding company focused on sustainable ventures, and is heavily involved in the booming hemp and legal cannabis industry. He’s also been back to the project every year, the last several as a volunteer, where he’s made additional connections with alternative-medicine advocate Deepak Chopra and a pair of businessmen pursuing opportunities in Africa, Tonye Cole and Ashish Thakkar.

“Going to the Nantucket Project showed me that anything is possible. You can meet with anyone, and everyone has something of value,” Arnold, now 27, said. “When you see other people who have succeeded, in similar or different situations to yourself, you have vigor coming out. It pushes me. As an entrepreneur, you can get down and burned out sometimes. The Nantucket Project reinvigorates me, and inspires me to push even harder on the projects I’m working on. I come away with new viewpoints I haven’t had before. Any time you can interact with a different person, or another culture, you gain something out of it. After every Nantucket Project, the feeling I always have is I have to keep moving things forward. There’s no reason to stop now. I need to push ahead. It’s about confidence, and knowing you can do what you set your mind to.”

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