Walsh University Senior Wins National Entrepreneur Award, Goes on to Global Competition

College Student Was First to Build Solar Powered Wells in Uganda

Walsh University congratulates Joe Knopp, a senior finance major with a goal to tackle the world’s water crisis, for being named U.S. Student Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA).  EO is a global network of 15,000 entrepreneurs across 45 countries trailblazing what it means to be a business leader. 

“I’m honored to be recognized, but this award wasn’t from my efforts alone,” Joe Knopp said. “I can’t begin to thank the Ripple team for all of their efforts, my mentors for answering the phone every time I had questions, and the Ripple community for believing in us every step along the way.”

We are the Ripple, founded by Knopp in November of 2020 and launched on March 17, 2021, is already having a “ripple” effect.  He spent his entire college savings to manufacture his first product line – Ripple water bottles.  For every 1,000 sold, a water well is built through their nonprofit entity.  Within one year, he went from concept to reality and became the first to build a modern solar powered water well in Uganda. The first well was built in the village of Katiiti and provides clean water to more than 2000 individuals and direct lines to two elementary schools. Seeing it for himself, and realizing what it meant for the village, was emotional for Knopp.

“I was just overwhelmed,” Knopp said.  “Everybody was laughing, crying, singing and rejoicing.  I literally want to solve the world water crisis, and I plan to do this until the day I die.” 

Since his trip to Uganda last October, Knopp has dug an additional ten wells, costing approximately $10,000 each, impacting more than 30,000 in Uganda. His group has supported multiple orphanages, schools, and even a whole hospital.  In April, Knopp will travel to Uganda again to coordinate building additional wells.  He also plans to expand this humanitarian effort to other African countries, Central America and India.

“Creating Ripple has already been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Knopp said.

Knopp recently beat out 1,200 other students who own and operate a business to win United States Student Entrepreneur of the Year.  He will continue to pitch his company Ripple at the 2022 GSEA Global Finals in May!

Watch the video about Joe Knopp and We are the Ripple.