When Katie Rock visited Nicaragua in 2007, local girls saw her running, swimming, and surfing and told her that “girls don’t do that.” She learned that they had never played sports, because there were no opportunities for girls. Back in the US, Rock shared the thought of improving girls’ conditions through sports with her college tennis teammate, Leigh, and former co-worker, Blair, who both liked the idea as well. Studies confirmed what the group already knew to be true, that women benefit from sports. In fact, girls who play sports are less likely to be in an abusive relationship or get pregnant. They’re also happier, healthier, and more confident.
A few years later, Rock returned to Nicaragua with the World Health Organization to research barriers to girls’ sports, which she found to be lack of opportunities, funding, and safe spaces. She also fell in love with macen, a vibrant and durable woven plastic fabric used in Nicaragua. Rock got the idea to make macen athletic bags for women that would help girls play sports, and Activyst was born.
Activyst launched in 2013 following a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The startup has since funded their first three non-profit partner projects and begun production of its first bags, which will be available later this year.