Young Social Entrepreneurs Deliver Big Ideas
2 December 2015 at 9:50 am
A mental health awareness program for young people in regional areas, and a social enterprise combining permaculture and work opportunities have won a national social enterprise competition.
The Big Idea is a national university competition co-ordinated by Australia’s longest standing social enterprise, The Big Issue.
The competition set out to find new social enterprise business ideas that could deliver benefits to society in a similar way to existing social enterprises such as The Big Issue Magazine.
The Big Idea, which launched in 2012, gives students an opportunity to learn about social enterprise in Australia.
More than 80 student teams from 10 universities competed in 2015, developing a business plan for a new social enterprise or social business.
Five undergraduate and two postgraduate finalists presented their plans to a high-profile panel of judges including Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Australia Post CFO Janelle Hopkins and Cheryl Kernot, Director of Social Business at the Centre for Social Impact.
The Undergraduate winner was The Vibe Collective from La Trobe University, which promoted social interaction for young adults in rural areas, raised awareness about mental health, and provided employment and skills-building opportunities for youth experiencing disadvantage.
The Post-Graduate Winner was The Garden of Earthly Delights from CQUniversity, which used a number of revenue streams and initiatives to run a community garden providing flexible training, education and employment for people facing disadvantage or experiencing homelessness.
Cheryl Kernot, who has judged The Big Idea for the past four years, said she had always been impressed with the high quality of applicants.
“But the big difference this year is that the winning projects had progressed past the concept stage and onto prototypes. Both winning teams had a strong articulation of their core social purpose,” Kernot said.
Jennifer Grace Bevis from winning undergraduate team, The Vibe Collective, said winning the competition had validated that her idea was addressing a need in the community.
“Our teamwork, collaboration and ideas evolved throughout the competition process. It’s given us the confidence to be bold and courageous with our ideas and we hope that our win will empower other regional students to be bold with their ideas too,” Bevis said.
The Big Issue’s National Manager, Sally Hines, said students learned practical skills from experienced social enterprise practitioners along the way.
“A key component of the competition is providing students with access to The Big Issue’s Senior Management Team to discuss and share their experiences of working in a social enterprise providing work opportunities for homeless Australians,” Hines said.