Enactus Memorial won a competition focused on financial literacy but finished out of the finals at the national championship last week.
The team of undergraduate students from Memorial University had a successful first day of the Enactus Canada National Exposition, during which teams from across Canada gave presentations in four topic competitions on May 14.
Enactus Memorial won the 2018 Capital One Financial Education Challenge, placed second in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge and was second runner-up in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge. They did not compete in the Scotiabank EcoLiving Green Challenge.
In the national competition, the defending Canadian champions made it to the semi-finals after winning its group in the opening round but did not qualify for the final round of judging.
“Our team has been fortunate enough to win a couple of times in a row now, but we also remember the times we haven’t,” said Taylor Young, president, Enactus Memorial.
“It sounds like a cliché, but I think we’ve realized through this process that you learn more from the years you don’t win than the years that you do. The team put an incredible amount of work into growing our existing projects and we were very proud of how we presented that to the rest of the country.”
Combating food insecurity
Enactus Memorial has seen tremendous success over the past three years with Project Sucseed, which attempts to address food insecurity in Canada’s northern regions through hydroponics.
But the growth of Project Sucseed also made it difficult for a group of students to manage while still starting new projects and managing existing ones. Enactus Memorial currently runs six community projects.
“That program became such a challenge for our team to grow because of the magnitude that we grew it to,” said Ms. Young. “It was a real challenge to start a new program while also running [this] business.
Enactus Memorial decided to hand the project off to Emily Bland, a Memorial alumna and former team president, to run as a standalone social enterprise, thus allowing the team to focus on developing a new project.
Feeding hungry children
In late 2017, they began The SmartCooking Company, which offers two plant-based food products. The first is a superfood toolkit that includes packages of an allergen-friendly flour alternative, isolated plant proteins and a superfood egg substitute.
The second is SmartCookie, a ready-to-eat nutritious snack that’s peanut-free and a nutritious source of protein.
Ms. Young says TheSmartCooking Company allows Enactus Memorial to continue tackling food insecurity, but this time by helping school children. Every sale of SmartCookie helps fund school breakfast programs across Canada.
Since launching four months ago, Enactus Memorial has sold more than 4,000 units, generated around $17,000 in revenue, employed three at-risk youth at Choices for Youth to manufacture the products and provided 4,021 school breakfasts for hungry kids.
“We’ve very pleased that despite only starting our new program four months ago, we were still very competitive on a national level, and I think that speaks to the drive and ambition of the team,” said Ms. Young.
Sustainability is key
Prof. Lynn Morrissey, Enactus Memorial’s faculty advisor, says the long-term goal of every project is sustainability.
“The handoff of Sucseed was important because it allows the team to focus on other important work with the assurance that this project will continue to grow. It’s a key to sustainability and something we always plan,” she said.
Financial education is another component of every Enactus project, she says, which led to the team winning the financial education challenge. For that competition, Enactus Memorial told the story of the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur.
“. . . we emphasize financial literacy and inclusion in all of our projects.”
Celebrating its tenth year in 2018, Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur helps former members of Canada’s military transition into civilian life by developing new careers as entrepreneurs.
“I think we won the financial education challenge because we emphasize financial literacy and inclusion in all of our projects. It’s a strategic focus of every project,” said Prof. Morrissey.
Saint Mary’s University won the semi-final round Enactus Memorial competed in. Lambton College, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa and Saint Mary’s University qualified for the finals, with Lambton eventually being declared the 2018 Enactus Canada national champion.
Sixty-seven teams from across Canada participated in the Enactus Canada National Exposition, which was held in Toronto, Ont., from May 15-16.