Enactus promotes entrepreneurship, innovation

The South African entry in the Enactus World Cup helped a small-scale fishery in KwaZulu-Natal develop and expand its operations. It was one of many projects showcased in the competition that are offering practical and innovative ways to improve quality of life around the world.

Enactus-morocco . Teams from 36 countries gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre for the Enactus World Cup, a competition that judges the best social and environmental projects run by university students. (Image: Shamin Chibba)

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Shamin Chibba

Creating jobs and saving the planet may seem like global goals that only governments and the United Nations have set out to achieve, but an event in Johannesburg has shown that young students can achieve the same thing, by starting local.

The Enactus World Cup brought hundreds of students from 36 universities across the world to the Sandton Convention Centre, last week to showcase their innovative social and environmental projects. Held between 14 and 16 October, the world cup took on the format of a knockout sports tournament. The teams showcased the work they had done in their home towns and were judged upon the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Britain’s University of Southampton edged out Brigham Young University from Hawaii to claim the top prize for its Right Light project. It set up entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar to provide solar lamps to communities. This increased income and reduced respiratory illnesses.

According to competition judge Sibani Mngomezulu, Enactus is all about promoting entrepreneurship with a social focus. “It allows university students the opportunity to present projects that have a social impact. So they select projects from communities where they identify a need and they put together a project that will have an impact.”

To qualify for the world cup, teams must win their respective national competitions. Enactus was initially known as Students in Free Enterprise Worldwide before it changed its name in 2012. Since its founding in 1975, it has grown to include over 70 000 students as members from more than 1 750 campuses in 36 countries. It also has held its annual world cup since 1999.

Innovation is one of Brand South Africa’s key components in the nation brand hexagon which, like the Enactus World Cup aims to do, find creative ways of solving economic, social and even environmental issues. The Enactus World Cup falls in line with the National Development Plan’s educational outcome, with the former striving towards quality basic education and the latter aiming for an improved quality of life.

enactus-bamboobike KPMG, one of the Enactus World Cup sponsors, displayed the kind of bamboo bicycle used for the Cycle for Water initiative used by two cyclists, Theo Rohfritsch and Simon Valdenaire, who covered 25 000 kilometres on their route from France to New Zealand (Image: Shamin Chibba)

South Africans’ maritime focus

South Africa’s representatives, University of Zululand, made it to the semi-final only to be ousted by fellow African contenders Mohammedia School of Engineers from Morocco.

The South Africans’ project had a maritime focus, with the intention of protecting endangered sea life while providing employment in a rural community.

The team worked with Sofoco Fish Farm, a small-scale operation focused on harvesting freshwater fish for wholesale commercial purposes, and helped it develop and expand its operations.

Despite improving life for KwaZulu-Natal locals, the team lost out to the Moroccans’ Breathe project. It developed two innovative technologies to provide clean and sustainable energy sources: Boron, which are ecologically friendly briquettes made out of recycled materials; and Kanoun, a cooking stove that ensures total combustion and better aeration.

By replacing traditional materials, the project has saved five tons of wood and 12 tons of carbon. Over 150 units of Kanoun have been sold, resulting in a 110% increase in monthly revenues and providing clean energy for 1 431 people.