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By Susan White

Enactus Memorial has won its ninth national championship, making it the most successful Enactus team in Canada.

A 65-person judging panel comprised of top Canadian CEOs named the student-run volunteer group from Memorial University the 2016 Enactus National Champion at the Enactus Canada National Exposition in Toronto on May 4. The annual competition is run by the country’s largest student leadership development organization, Enactus Canada.

Enactus Memorial are the Canadian champs again.

“It honestly still doesn’t feel real,” said Emily Bland, president of Enactus Memorial. “Our team has been dreaming of a chance to represent our country at the World Cup in Canada since it was announced. It’s a dream come true. We want to make our country proud, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep the World Cup here in Canada.”

As national champions, Enactus Memorial takes home the Tim Hortons Cup and will represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup this September in Toronto. Enactus Memorial won the world cup in 2008. It also won national titles in 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

“Enactus Memorial continues to raise the bar every year, finding new and innovative ways to solve economic, social and environmental issues both here at home and around the world,” said Nicole Almond, president of Enactus Canada. “I think the competitive process helps encourage all our teams to reach higher levels of achievement each and every year.”

“It’s a dream come true. We want to make our country proud.” –Emily Bland

Enactus is a student-run volunteer group, part of an international non-profit organization that mobilizes university and college students to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living of people in need through the application of business processes and models.

The Memorial team currently involves 82 undergraduate students from the faculties of arts, business, science and engineering. Together, they run 13 community projects.

Hydroponics ‘mega’ project

Its national presentation focused on a Project SucSeed, which uses hydroponic technology to grow affordable produce year-round and addresses food security in isolated regions of the province as well as provides employment to at-risk youth in St. John’s.

Ms. Bland says that following nationals in 2015, the team decided to develop a larger project with a broad reach and impact.

“The projects that you are seeing win a World Cup are all mega projects that address multiple needs but then come together in a logical way. Our team wanted to create a project that would be able to compete on a world stage.

“To make it a reality, we started with a think tank at the beginning of the year to gauge what the community thought were the biggest needs. From there, we took the top ones that stood out and began designing what is now known as Project SucSeed,” said Ms. Bland.

The project allows entrepreneurs in rural, isolated areas to grow fresh produce for their families and to sell to local stores. Through Choices for Youth, it provides employment to at-risk youth who manufacture the hydroponic units. It’s also been implemented in schools in the province to teach students about biodiversity as well as grow produce for lunch programs.

Project partners

It was launched in December in Rigolet, Labrador and involved partnerships with Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to design the hydroponic units and Choices for Youth to manufacture them.

“We were able to make the project come together so quickly because of the hard work and dedication of the team as well as the overwhelming support we have been shown by the province,” said Ms. Bland. “The truth is our province is in a tough situation and for our team, Project SucSeed is our contribution to bringing some positivity. We want everyone in our province to realize that even though times are tough, there are still so many things we have to be thankful for, and there is always opportunity to succeed.”

In addition to the Tim Hortons Cup, Enactus Memorial also won the BDC Entrepreneurs First Project Partnership Best Project, TD Entrepreneurship Challenge and $20,000 in start-up capital from the McCain Atlantic Canada Social Enterprise Partnership.

Two individual students, Ms. Bland and vice-president Angelise States, won individual honours. Ms. Bland was named a 2016 Unilever Leader for a Bright Future and Ms. States won a Founder’s Bursary from the John Dobson Foundation.

Ambassadors for Memorial

“We are blessed with an amazing group of students who represent us so well,” said Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, which supports Enactus Memorial. “The tens of thousands of volunteer hours they have contributed, the thousands of people positively affected by their work, the hundreds of jobs created, and the many other measures of their impact have made them the best Enactus team in Canada, among a field of incredibly strong teams from other Canadian universities and colleges. We are incredibly proud of the work these students do to better our communities. They are extraordinary ambassadors for Memorial University.”

Enactus Memorial is led by Prof. Lynn Morrissey, who has been the team’s faculty advisor for the past 13 years, dedicating countless hours to coaching the presentation teams and guiding the group’s community projects.

“I attribute our success year after year to having a team of incredible students who want to make a real difference in our communities, and have the talent and commitment to do so,” said Prof. Morrissey. “It is quite an honour to work with yet another amazing group of students. Every year, they step up with new ideas and energy, and a desire to be the best. It makes what I do very rewarding and so worth the effort. The opportunity to represent Canada on the world stage never gets old!”

The 2016 Enactus World Cup will be held in Toronto from Sept. 28-30.

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