Newcastle University Business School

News Item

Students Social Enterprise Success

Newcastle University's Enactus Society Create Social Enterprises in Newcastle and Rwanda

Newcastle University’s own Enactus society, headed by a committee of students from different schools across campus, including two Business School students Rebecca Jordan ( Business Management) and Eshna Madhub (Accounting and Finance), have been working hard for many years on different social enterprise projects.

Enactus works with leading corporate partners and member universities to establish Enactus societies on campuses around the world. With the support and encouragement of their faculty advisors and a local business advisory board, Enactus students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects and set up social enterprises that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

The Enactus International programme works in 36 countries with 1,650 different universities and has 66,500 student members in total. In the UK alone there are currently 271 projects that are currently in progress by 56 UK Enactus societies. The current projects that the team enterprising Newcastle students are currently working on include the Dufatanye project based in the Nyanza district of Rwanda and UniCycles based in Newcastle.

The Dufatanye project tackles the subject of menstruation, a topic that is taboo in Rwanda. The stigma attached to menstruation causes some women to be treated as second class citizens, often causes girls to miss vital days of schooling due to fear of embarrassment. Regular sanitary towels are not readily available in the district and women currently use material such as rags during menstruation which can put them at risk of infection.

The Dufatanye project is designed to deal with the severe sanitation problems facing the district by teaching local women how to use Banana plant fibres to create safe sanitary towels.

‘We are working with a small co-operative who have all been affected by the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Our aim for the project is to use the bananas plants that they currently grow, to create sanitary towels to combat poor menstrual care, and to provide the co-operative with an income by recruiting two females as sanitation entrepreneurs to sell at local markets.’ Explains Emily Gilmour Newcastle University’s Enactus society president.

The team of Enactus students plan to travel to the co-op in September 2015 to learn more about the people and the culture in Rwanda and to begin implementing the project. The students plan to empower women in the community by teaching them how to manufacture the product and the entrepreneurial skills needed to sell it.

So far for the Dufatanye project the society have been able to remotely impact the community by sending over business workshops in areas such as accounting and marketing to develop business skills for participants. They have also sent over a recipe for Banana Bread, another product made from the banana plant, which can be sold at the local markets to create income. It has also worked as a practical tool for those involved to further develop their business skills. 

Closer to home the Enactus Society are also working on a project called Unicycles, a bike selling business for homeless people and unemployed adults in Newcastle. Unicycles hopes to provide workshops to its beneficiaries on sales and marketing with business theory, and then, for them to be able to gain practical skills by selling the bikes on campus. The money that they earn is then placed into an empowerment fund for them to be able to use for things such as interview outfits, transport to interviews and workshops.

In the past year Unicycles has become a commercial venture to provide more income for the team. They generated over £1000 in profit selling bikes and biking equipment on campus. This year they are in the process of finding a project partner to work with them in finding beneficiaries that can be part of the project.

Enactus is not just about helping others, it also has a great impact on the students involved as Eshna Madhub, Accounting and Finance student, points out. 

"Through Enactus, I have increased my confidence whilst at the same time using my time and skills to help others. But Enactus is not only about helping others, it is about helping its members develop their skills and become future leaders"

The Enactus team are always looking for new ideas or support and are keen to hear from any alumni that would like to get involved.  To find out more about the Newcastle University Enactus Society visit their Facebook page .

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published on: 25 August 2015