12 April 2018

Summer, sun, and social impact

Serene harbours, expansive coastlines, and a rich outback full of unique flora and fauna. This is Australia in all its beauty. Often forgotten however, is that whilst Australia’s landscape is full of stark contrasts, society in Sydney also exists in extremes. Enactus is a global, student-led organisation that harnesses the power of entrepreneurship to address these issues and create positive impact through developing social enterprises. At Enactus University of Sydney, we bring together students from all degrees and levels of study to do just this. Our most mature social enterprise, Culinary Tales provides refugees with the opportunity to run cooking classes whilst sharing their cultural knowledge with communities, schools, and corporates.

Over the summer, we ran an internship with 11 students where they were put through a design sprint process to devise agile, minimum viable solutions to issues affecting Australian society. Here’s what one of the interns, Jessica Falon (PhD in Pharmacology) had to share about her experience:

I first heard about Enactus University of Sydney through advertisement of one of their events on Facebook. Curious, I did a little bit of research, only to discover that Enactus is not just limited to the University of Sydney, but is a global organisation with participants from universities all over the world! Though this piqued my interest, I was unsure how my Medical Science degree would be at all compatible with the process of creating a start-up. Regardless, I applied for their summer internship program and found this misconception to be immediately challenged.

Across the three-week internship led by friendly and knowledgeable members of the Enactus leadership, we were guided through the steps of creating a start-up business from start to finish. This was with the help of scheduled seminars given by industry professionals who have made a name for themselves in the realm of social enterprise. We even ventured out to multiple co-working spaces in order to truly gain an insight into the future direction of the start-up industry. All of this culminated in the creation of two primary projects which will continue to be expanded upon by the Enactus team throughout 2018:

The Dirty Project

With the goal of empowering disadvantaged youth in the local community, we created The Dirty Project – a brand that produces an exfoliating coffee scrub made from upcycled coffee grounds. Our aim for this project is to allow the youth to experience all aspects of business operation from product creation to sales, in order to teach transferable business skills and improve their future employability. With the additional value of reducing food wastage and displacing plastic micro-bead exfoliates bonus, we feel that this project has great potential to produce meaningful social change.

Interns developing samples of the coffee scrub


In order to address the lack of volunteer support in elderly public housing communities, as well as attempt to bridge the inter-generational gap between youth and elderly, we created Bridge. Through this program, school-aged children are paired with in-need homes and communities to volunteer their time. Students are also paired with a mentor, and at the end of the program, they are taught how to write an impactful resume that includes the experience that they have gained. With many schools keen to encourage their students to volunteer, we think that a program like this could easily be adopted on a large scale.

Interns at Greenway, a public housing community, building partnerships for future programs

By the end of the three weeks, we had already given out over 200 free samples for The Dirty Project at the University of Sydney O-Week, as well as confirmed the interest of over 20 participants for Bridge. It was incredibly empowering to be able to achieve this much in such a short time period, largely due to being given the freedom to explore our ideas in a fun and creative forum. Ultimately, not only did I learn how to apply my personal skills in problem solving to social enterprise despite lacking business acumen, but was given plenty of food for thought on how I can apply entrepreneurial action to my own studies in medical research. This definitely will not be the end of my start-up journey!

Team photo upon conclusion of the internship

If social impact, entrepreneurship, or innovation has ever tickled your fancy, keep an eye on Enactus University of Sydney as they are always keen to engage with students from all backgrounds and years of study!

Written by Enactus University of Sydney

No comments:

Post a Comment