Enactus, is a student organisation with 70,000 members across 36 different countries, including a branch here at the University of Melbourne. They’ve launched both international and local enterprises, and are now Champions of the Enactus National Conference, on their way to compete at the international level in San Jose, California, later this year. We spoke with Enactus President, Nathan Wang, to find out more.
Enactus encourages students to create social enterprises, driving social impact and change through sustainable business solutions. University’s around the world have their own branches, which each work on their own projects. At the University of Melbourne, the Enactus Branch runs three.
“One of our longest running projects is called Nexus, where we’ve partnered with a community in Nepal. The women there produce handmade books through traditional methods, which we then sell here, then pass on all the profits. This provides them with a stable, sustainable income, which addresses a range of other issues in the community. At the local level, we run a cup exchange program, called Swap Cup, and have just launched Cards for a Cause, a program wherein we sell stickers you can use to decorate your Myki. It’s something that exists in a lot of Asian countries but hasn’t gained much traction here yet. We’ve partnered with a school in Broadmeadows and are using the funds from our sticker sales to fund travel passes for students who are unable to afford public transport. It creates greater access to education, reduces stress around transport, and increases revenue for the government in terms of curbing fare evasion as well.”
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Each year, Enactus branches from across Australia gather in Sydney to present the business solutions they have developed. This year, Nathan and the University of Melbourne team presented their local projects, Swap Cup and Cards for a Cause, new projects that have scaled up over the last 12 months and generated over $25,000 in revenue.
“In previous years we presented Nexus, because that’s our longest running project, and it’s quite interesting, but the success we had with Swap Cup and Cards for a Cause is hard to ignore. After 3 really intense rounds, competing against 13 other universities, it was enough to win the national championship!”
This national win also reflects a greater, cultural victory for the Melbourne branch of Enactus, which has evolved a great deal over the last two years.
“When I joined Enactus two years ago, it was at a sort of low point. We had 12 active members, and it made about $300 that year, I remember that, then we presented Nexus at the National competition and sold some of our books, and doubled the profit for the year. The president last year was a big part of turning that around, and developing a more engaged culture, establishing connections in the university community. Now, we have 43 active members, and we’ve generated all this additional revenue. We had 150 applications this semester, and we’ve taken on about 10% of them, it means we can make sure our members are truly dedicated and want to pursue what we’re doing.”
Congratulations to Nathan and the Enactus team. We wish them luck for the international competition!