Minneapolis entrepreneur Eric Dayton has been named by the World Economic Forum to a prestigious post as one of the world’s most promising leaders under the age of 40.
Dayton, 38, was among 126 people from across the globe selected for a five-year program aimed at helping recipients gain knowledge and contacts to expand their ideas and make a difference in their communities.
Notable alumni include human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, French President Emmanuel Macron, Google co-founder Larry Page and Chinese actress Zhou Xun.
Dayton, son of former Gov. Mark Dayton, is co-founder and CEO of Askov Finlayson, an outdoor clothing company based in downtown Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood. The company has committed to donating $1 million over a five-year period, beginning in 2018, to companies fighting climate change.
It’s part of the Daytons’ broader mission to have a “net positive effect” by counterbalancing 110 percent of the greenhouses gases Askov Finlayson produces as part of doing business, such as making and transporting clothing.
“This is a global forum for the exchange of ideas, and an opportunity to create partnerships for problem solving and getting things done,” Dayton said Tuesday, not long after learning he had been selected. “I want to figure out how to make this a productive experience.”
The group, Young Global Leaders, was nominated for consideration and selected by a panel of the World Economic Forum, a nonprofit based in Geneva whose goal is to help solve society’s biggest problems by bringing together leaders in business, politics, academia, the arts, technology and social change.
More than half of the class of 2019 are women and many are from emerging countries. They include the founder of the first mobile app with contraception advice in Bangladesh, a female scientist working to revolutionize batteries, as well as the Georgian and Costa Rican heads of state. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido also was on the list, though not all who are selected accept the invitation, a spokeswoman said.
Individuals were selected for “representing the best of their generation, for their ability to enhance understanding and promote action, as well as innovate activity in the fields of art, business, civil society, energy, government and health,” according to a news release.
Dayton, who also owns the Bachelor Farmer cafe and Marvel Bar with his brother, Andrew, has blended his businesses with his personal passion for fighting climate change.
As a youth he became interested in wilderness backpacking, and in his 20s, he climbed Denali, where part of his team was buried in an avalanche. Dayton trekked via dog-sled teams through the Canadian Barrens with Arctic explorer and Minnesota native Will Steger, whom he met through his father.
Dayton said he hopes his earth-friendly business model can set an example of what’s possible and inspire others in the group, who can partake in any World Economic Forum conferences as well as educational workshops designed for the young entrepreneurs.
“The mission of our company is to keep the north cold,” Dayton said. “It’s something I’m thinking and working on every day. It’s not a goal that can be accomplished in isolation. There’s no better example of a global challenge that requires global coordination and cooperation.”