Learning about self-employment and entrepreneurship truly gives new opportunities to students, in the short term, providing soft-skill training and work experience and in the long-term leading to potential employment. I can attest to this from my own personal experience, as a History Undergraduate, my ‘obvious’ employment options are rather limited in comparison to a degree such as Engineering, but through my experience with enterprise, I know that my options span far beyond what I study in University and I believe all young people should be aware of the same. On top of all of this, enterprise is a relatively untapped resource than can prove a solution to a variety of issues and it is also important to note that the soft-skills that can be developed when learning about and taking an active role in enterprise, like problem-solving, communication and delegation are just as valuable.
I believe that young people need to have access to education and opportunities regarding enterprise and luckily, through the work of one innovative brand they can: Enactus. Enactus began in 1975 in the United States, then named SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) SIFE’s goals were similar to modern-day Enactus, aiming to inspire students to become entrepreneurs and take a more active role in the economy. In the following years, building on its domestic success, US Enactus University teams established partners in Europe and from then on began to spread globally. In 2012 SIFE was renamed Enactus. The new name technically reads: En-act-us, with each segment representing these words and meanings respectively: “entrepreneurial” initiating business innovation with integrity and passion “action” the experience of social impact that sparks social enterprise, “us” student, academic and business leaders collaborating to create a better world.
Enactus describes itself as “a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world” and this is an accurate holistic summary of the organisation. More specifically, Enactus is a society that can be found in many Universities (and some colleges) around the world, however unlike most University societies, Enactus belongs to a worldwide brand and movement, working to achieve their shared aims. Currently Enactus is made of 66,500 pupils, members of 1,650 Enactus teams, spanning 36 countries. Each year these teams of students design and implement innovative ways to help a variety of communities and beneficiaries. The most popular method of achieving this is through social enterprise, the heart of what Enactus is all about, but their work is not limited to this. Teams also run purely commercial projects in order to build up capital to fund their more social-focused projects.
At the end of each academic year, Enactus teams in each country present their projects and the work they have done during the year in national competitions, with the winner of the national competitions going on to compete in the annual Enactus World Cup. This element of healthy competition, gives each teams something to work towards and additional encouragement to improve their projects year upon year. Interestingly as the Enactus World Cup will be hosted in London this year, Universities based in the United Kingdom are provided with a rather unique opportunity to attend and experience a highly spectacular event, even if their own university is not competing, (more information here). Enactus is a truly inspirational organisation, accomplishing fantastic work through a highly able and driven network of people. I would highly encourage anyone with the opportunity to do so to join, as I have done, and experience Enactus for themselves.