Emily Cummins (BA Business Management 2010)

Emily Cummins

Emily Cummins graduated from Leeds University Business School in 2010 with a first class honours degree in Business Management. 

During her time at University, Emily received numerous awards in recognition of her talent including being named as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Young People in the World in 2010, winning a Barclays Woman of the Year Award in 2009 and being named Cosmopolitan magazine’s Ultimate Save-the Planet Pioneer in 2008. In 2015 Emily was also recognised by leading accreditation body AACSB as part of the Influential Leaders Awards.

Emily was able to study part-time at Leeds University Business School so that she could continue to develop her entrepreneurial pursuits. Whilst studying at Leeds, Emily was able to develop a sustainable fridge that would run without electricity using heat transfer and evaporation of dirty water. Emily decided to open source her invention and her fridges are now used across South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana making a real difference to people’s lives.

 “Studying business at Leeds gave me a fundamental insight into all the things I needed to learn about going into the world of business. I was able to learn all the things I needed to about setting up a business and apply that to my inventions. What the university also gave me was not just a degree, but a real network of people who had different skills, different talents and different interests who I could share my ideas with. It was a real goldmine of people.

“Leeds University were also really flexible with my studies. They let me study part time, so I could continue inventing alongside my degree. If they hadn’t been so flexible with me, I’d have had to pick either my inventing or my degree. What they did was allow me to marry both together, which gave me such a stronger outcome when I left university. I’m really grateful to them for allowing me to do both; to get my first in my degree and run my businesses at the same time.”

Emily has also developed a water carrier to allieviate the need for African women and children to walk many miles a day to collect water using only one or two jerry cans. She designed a carrier that would make their journey easier and more productive, allowing up to five containers of water to be held in place. The product can also be adapted to carry firewood or other heavy loads and may be completely recycled at the end of its working life. 

Another of Emily's inventions is a toothpaste dispenser inspired by her grandfather’s inability squeeze toothpaste tubes properly because of his arthritis. She created a dispenser that changed the squeezing action into a pushing one. The dispenser can be used with a variety of products, by people with limited arm movement or prosthetic limbs and in situations where hygiene is important, such as in hospitals or kitchens. 

she says, “My design philosophy involves a back-to-basics approach which keeps an eye on the past as well as the future and combines the best of both. I'm motivated by human need as well as sustainability principles.”