Sustainable student entrepreneurial projects can achieve big results for all involved.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work for Enactus for the last 5 years, originally in Europe and now in the UK. So far the highlight of my journey and proudest moment has been seeing our National Champion team from the University of Southampton crowned Runner-Up at the Enactus World Cup 2013 in Cancun.

Our amazing students had worked for weeks with very little sleep to present SanEco, a sanitation project helping widows in Kisii, Kenya. Our students designed and built an innovative toilet made from 60% recycled materials that also collects human waste. In just one year the team worked with 15 widows to triple their disposable income by helping them create businesses through building their own SanEco Toilets, removing waste from the streets and making their community a healthier place to live in.

The team then taught the entrepreneurs how to convert human waste into cheap, affordable and effective fertilizers and the business skills to sell them to farmers in the area, increasing their yields and saving them £155 a year – enabling them to have a sustainable income. This project epitomises the positive power of business, which is at the heart of the Enactus programme – a head for business, a heart for the world.

“Years after graduating, Enactus continues to power my career and differentiate me from others.” Jonathon Hick

The students also worked to create a sanitary towel businesses, offering a hygienic and affordable solution for the first time to 884 women and girls in the village, and are developing a soap product…and this is just one of our 53 amazing university teams! We have 3000 passionate students who combined deliver around 250 community empowerment projects annually, improving the lives of thousands of beneficiaries around the world in a sustainable way.

Enactus is community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. To do this, we’ve established the largest global business and higher education network in the world, bringing together the expertise of educators and business leaders to focus the potential of university students preparing for leadership roles in business. Our work involves 66,000 students on over 1,600 campuses worldwide, including 3,000 from 53 universities in the UK who are supported by over 100 academic advisers and 400 business experts from 30 partner companies.

Guided by academic advisers and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus work in university teams to create and implement entrepreneurial community empowerment projects both locally and around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to building future leaders for an ever-more complicated and challenging world.

Rather than learning in the comfort of their classrooms, we challenge them to take their skills into the real world and successfully bridge the gap between academia and action. This practical experience enables them to prove their ability to produce a high level of impact and change before they even graduate. With this experience and set of key skills, Enactus students are able to differentiate themselves and stand out to employers. Jonathon Hick, a graduate from Enactus Nottingham in 2008 went on to work for PwC and recently moved to ClearlySo says “Years after graduating, Enactus continues to power my career and differentiate me from others.”

“The opportunities to work with teams in a coaching or business advisor capacity can be a great learning experience for any of our professionals.” Shirley Jackson, EY

At the same time our programme provides exciting opportunities for our partner and sponsor companies, by engaging with existing staff and offering professional development. We link their employees directly with our Enactus teams to support their projects, team development, personal mentoring etc. As business advisers they make up the teams’ Business Advisory Boards and contribute their knowledge and expertise to further add value to the development of the Enactus students.

As Shirley Jackson (Director, Recruitment , Global & EMEIA, EY) says “These teams are formed of tomorrow’s business leaders”. “Like EY” she adds “they are committed to doing their part in building a better working world…Whilst it’s great to be able to spot great talent early in a student’s academic career, our relationship with Enactus is far more than just being about recruitment. The opportunities to work with teams in a coaching or business advisor capacity can be a great learning experience for any of our professionals.”

Shirley has previously judged our UK National Competition, where the best 35 teams showcase their socially entrepreneurial projects and the life changing impact they have achieved that year. The results in mid-April are the climax of the Enactus year, with the competition aspect pushing teams towards continuous improvement while providing a platform for best practice and meaningful learning exchanges and ensuring the implementation of impact measurement.

With over a thousand attendees made up of Enactus students, university and business advisers, and senior business and university executives; the Enactus National Competitions are dramatic, energy-filled events which exude positivity and hope for the future. Our teams never let us down and after 5 years I’m still amazed every year by their passion and commitment!  

If you are interested in being involved with Enactus as a student, university or corporate sponsor, please contact me, Rosie Connolly, Operations Director, Enactus UK– rconnolly@enactus.org
To find out more, please visit our website – www.enactusuk.org