University Social Entrepreneurs in Global Comp
11 July 2013 at 10:27 am
A team of University of New England students will be taking their award-winning social outreach programs to compete on the world stage in Mexico in September.
The students took out the Enactus Australia championships last week, as part of a global competition which combines the talents of students, academics and business leaders to transform lives and shape a better and more sustainable world.
The University of New England team, made up of 11 young entrepreneurs, competed against 21 other university teams in Australia.
Enactus teams must develop, manage and report on outreach initiatives that address areas of human need. Teams must treat the projects as sustainable business enterprises and work to maximise returns to targeted beneficiaries.
The UNE team presented on three projects, addressing key issues in the New England region: Farming Futures, meeting demand for skills and careers in agriculture; Fin-Lit, focusing on financial literacy in local indigenous schools; and Minimbah, redressing the “identity crisis” facing under-privileged communities where many births aren’t recognised by a birth certificate or registration.
UNE Enactus Team President, Rachel Price said the team had worked tirelessly on the projects, putting in more than 5,330 hours over the past year, raising just under $115,000 and directly impacted the lives of 1,482 people.
Price said these weren't just local challenges; they were national.
“We’re hoping each of these projects makes a fundamental difference to what are significant national problems. While we’ve started on a relatively small-scale, our vision for these programs to make significant changes to people’s lives all over the country,” she said.
Leader of the Fin-Lit and Minimbah projects Jason Artuso said a birth certificate in Australia was profoundly important as it is the primary document for citizenship.
“Without a birth certificate there can be no bank account, passport, driver’s license, tax file number, access to schools; the list goes on,” he said.
“Research is currently underway to understand the full consequences of not having a birth certificate. It’s clear that Indigenous communities in particular have a high incidence of unregistered births, without certificates.
“In the long-term the Minimbah project aims to gain legislative support to ensure every Australian receives a free, automatic birth certificate when born. In the short term, we've been raising money to fund the birth registration and/or certificates of over 1200 Australians.”
Minimbah was born out of the Fin-Lit project, which equipped primary students and their families in predominantly indigenous schools with basic financial literacy skills.
“Part of the Fin-Lit program helped sign participants up to a bank account, however many students couldn't without birth certificates. We found about 40 per cent of the indigenous population in the New England region didn’t have birth certificates. It's estimated around 31 per cent of indigenous communities nationally don't have birth-certificates,” Artuso said.
The team’s Farming Futures project linked the many companies crying out for quality graduates from agricultural courses to the talent they're after.
The UNE team will compete in the World Cup in Cancun, Mexico on September 29.