EnactusDC student competes on global stage in the name of innovation and entrepreneurship

Written by Heather Brown, president, EnactusDC

When you are a part of a network like Enactus Durham College (DC), there are many unique and amazing opportunities to help you understand that innovation and entrepreneurship are ways of connecting and creating an impact with people around the world. One prime example of this is the Global Social Innovation Summit (GSIS), hosted by Enactus Hong Kong.

Enactus is an international organization which fosters student entrepreneurship to address social issues.  Through events, members of EnactusDC often meet students from all over the world, but being able to collaborate on real issues facing corporations was especially exciting. During my time with EnactusDC, I have participated in numerous pitch challenges, hackathons and competitions, many of which included fellow DC students. One thing that drew my attention to GSIS was the opportunity to work with students outside of Canada.

I was partnered with two students from Malaysia and China. Together, we worked on solving funding and manpower concerns for a Hong Kong-based organization called Teen’s Key. As a mental health advocate and a graduate of DC’s Social Service Worker program, I felt a natural connection to the type of programming and crisis services Teen’s Key provides to vulnerable young women.

Developing solutions for an organization in another country was not easy, but thanks to the help of my teammates, we came up with a viable and sustainable program. With a focus on utilizing existing resources, our solution was a merchandise-based social enterprise which would empower women with new skills to give back to the community and support other women in need.

When I saw the final call for GSIS, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved, despite the staggering time zone difference of 12 hours. Competing from my home base in Ontario, the Hackathon officially started at 3 a.m. on June 19, with keynote speakers, a workshop, and a case study introduction. It was an immersive and intense 24 hours but I am proud to say that with only a few hours of sleep over the competition weekend, my team was successful in submitting an 8-minute presentation and deck.

Experiencing international collaboration (despite the strained sleep schedule) is something I would highly recommend for all DC students. At times, stepping into these opportunities can feel extremely daunting. Not only do they take a lot of attention and diligence, but often require working with ideas and industries you have little knowledge of beforehand. However, these elements are also what make the challenges so rewarding. If the chance to participate in a challenge pops up, I encourage students to get involved. It is always worth it.

Learn more about the Summit by checking out DC’s web story.