Using potatoes to replace plastic packaging waste, helping arctic communities eat more nutritiously, and improving Zambian farming practices to produce more food for local communities—you'd expect any of these projects to be the focus of some big corporation, and yet, these are just a few of the side projects Enactus students lead throughout the year … on top of their school work.
In fact, these were some of the top projects that made it to the finals of the 2018 Enactus National Exposition—an annual event that brings together student, academic and industry leaders from across the country to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s future leaders and entrepreneurs.
Through successive rounds of competition, the presentations of 67 university and college Enactus campus teams were narrowed down to four top contenders: Saint Mary’s University, the University of Toronto, Lambton College, and the University of Ottawa.
Each of these teams showed how young people could build sustainable and profitable businesses that not only change people’s lives but improve our shared environment as well. In particular, the big theme for this year has been tackling food insecurity.
For a snapshot of what these teams managed to pull off, let’s look at some of the projects from these Enactus finalists:
University of Toronto
The Enactus University of Toronto – St. George team steered hard into tackling the world’s growing plastic waste problem. Through a project called EcoPackers, the team partnered with various UofT engineering and bioscience departments to find a green alternative to one of the most commonly used and wasteful packaging materials on the market: packing peanuts.
Their solution? The team engineered green packing peanuts made entirely out of potato waste products (in this case, potato waste products donated from the biggest Canadian potato products maker, McCain Foods). Most important, this new packaging product is equal in cost to current packing peanuts, meaning this greener alternative has a significant chance at becoming a real market success over the coming years.
Saint Mary’s University
Read more about Saint Mary’s home run Enactus project tackling food insecurity in this special profile.
University of Ottawa
After identifying the growing issue of food insecurity among Canada’s Northern communities, the Enactus UOttawa team decided to partner with their campus’ engineering and food science departments to create Growcer: Modular Food Solutions.
Growcer is a technological approach aimed to combat the heavy reliance on shipments from the south for everyday produce (fruits and vegetables) in Northern Canada. To that end, the team builds easy-to-operate, commercial-grade hydroponic and aquaponic systems inside recycled shipping containers that can be quickly shipped to Northern communities. These containers can grow food anywhere, even in the Arctic, and can grow 400-450 pounds of produce per week.
The result? The Growcer system helped participating Northern communities cut food prices by 50%, all while using 91% less water and land to grow the food, and cutting related transportation emissions by 99%.
Finally, the Lambton College team stole the show and the competition’s top award with their promotion of food security and entrepreneurship in Zambia (eastern Africa). Through their One Seed Project, the Lambton team organized regular trips to Zambia that facilitated the knowledge transfer of no-till farming and drip irrigation techniques from top Canadian farming professionals to rural Zambian farmers.
The result? This training has ballooned to educate well over 30,000 Zambian farmers, doubling each farmer’s yield and revenue. This new-found wealth has since spread to the creation of new, locally funded hospitals, schools and cooperative businesses. This program is set to grow that much further over the next two years, potentially impacting the lives of over 100,000 Zambians.
Creating businesses. Creating employment. Building local communities. Healing our environment. Again, all of these projects were led by students, truly exceptional ones.
About Enactus Canada
Enactus Canada is shaping generations of entrepreneurial leaders passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of Canada.
To learn more about Enactus or how you can get involved at your local university or college, visit here: http://enactus.ca/