Acadia’s Enactus team has won a 3M Canada Project Accelerator Grant, valued at $2500, for their youth entrepreneurship programming. The grant is meant expand a project created by an Enactus team, developing it from the starting phases to implementation and growth stages, and Enactus Acadia Co-Project Managers, Sam Stegen and Sara Baxter, are at the helm of this project along with a growing group of committed team members.
Project Regenerate is aimed at engaging youth as change-makers and young entrepreneurs, according to Enactus Acadia President Justin King. In partnership with Boston Pizza New Minas, used crayons are recycled, melted, and remoulded into new crayons. They are a variety of shapes and colour blends to be sold at the Acadia Christmas Craft Expo from November 17-19. These new shapes are meant to be accessible to all, as the traditional crayon shape does not accommodate to a wide range of motor skills and abilities.
“We’ve had two sessions so far in October. We started with 6 kids aged 7-12, but now we have a hundred kids coming from the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board [next week],” King said. Their partnership also extends to Evangeline Middle School. “We’re teaching a few lessons there this month and more in December [possibly].”
Enactus has put their focus on social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship centres around the idea that businesses have an obligation and the capacity to affect social, cultural, and environmental change instead of solely making a profit. These organizations give back to the community in creative ways while introducing people who otherwise would not be engaged in entrepreneurship to the business world.
“We show the kids the ideation phase, what we thought of, the marketing, here’s a price, we budget with them and ask them questions like ‘What do you think is a good price for our product?’. Essentially, we’re getting these crayons for free, the labour is all for free because everyone is a volunteer, and we’re creating a tangible product that the kids can sell so they can become entrepreneurs at this young age.”
King notes that the kids he’s worked with are incredibly forward thinking. One in particular stood out to him. “This kid is seven years old, and I asked him ‘What happens if you have a business that not everybody can afford but somebody really wants to use?’. He wanted to start a gym so he said, ‘Well I would take some of the revenue from the people who pay full price and help this person get in for free.” King was amazed because, as a third-year business student, he had only learned this concept in the previous year of university.
In King’s mind, Project Regenerate is key to understanding how to work with youth. Children ages 6-13 are taking part in the program, and with the Annapolis Valley Regional Schoolboard now joining Enactus Acadia as a lesson partner the potential for expansion is huge. “It’s a really good opportunity to engage with like-minded students.” Right now, there are eleven volunteers that have signed up for weekend events. They have gone from two Acadia students running every project to eleven fully committed participants this semester.
Enactus is incredibly flexible. “If any of our projects don’t quite fit in the lines of exactly what you’re trying to do by joining, then [Enactus] will work with you to help get that idea off the ground.” Last night at their weekly meeting King and his colleagues even listened to a project pitch that may very well materialize.
“It all comes down to having an idea, having the capacity to hold it under the Enactus umbrella… but if you have an idea and pitch it, and you can get a team behind you and a team to work it together we’ll support you. We also have the potential to get funding from outside sources, using some of our own start-up capital, and we have international competition groups too that have prize pools for additional funding.”
Various categories of competition exist. Such as Youth Entrepreneurship, General Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, and Eco-Living including two new categories this past year, 1 Race 2 End Waste, and the Water Race, which are all different categories of competition under the Enactus banner that participants can enter. Emblematic of Enactus’ focus on social entrepreneurship and giving back to the community in a meaningful way.
There are several stages to competitions. Regional competitions are the starting point, followed by national and international competitions. Many post-secondary institutions across Nova Scotia and Canada have their own Enactus teams. Last spring, Acadia attended Enactus Nationals in Vancouver, BC and placed as a semi-finalist, with former ASU President Samantha Sproule joining the team.
Baxter joined in September and her addition to the team was “one that just made sense” according to King, as Baxter is a business student and Stegen a sciences student. Having representation beyond a singular faculty made for a dynamic team that could solve problems creatively and work towards a social enterprise solution.
Stegen started the project in April while King was working as a research assistant studying youth entrepreneurship and the capacity of the market for it. King describes this as Stegen’s “brainchild”. Baxter is currently a co-op student with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre at the Launchbox space in Patterson Hall. With Stegen’s background in sciences and Baxter’s in business and organizational capabilities, it was a perfect fit. The project continues to grow, with the Christmas Craft Expo in November the major goal for the month with no end in sight.
On November 24th from 1:00-4:00PM in Patterson 107, David Upton and Lauren Sears from Common Good Solutions, Nova Scotia’s first Community Interest Company, will be giving a presentation on sustainable entrepreneurship. To learn more visit http://commongoodsolutions.ca/
Enactus Acadia meets weekly Tuesday evenings in Patterson Hall on the 4th floor from 5:30-6pm.