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Finding a Bright Financial Future with Enactus Entrepreneurs

Do you fondly remember those moments where you’ve been judged? Where you’ve bared your soul to an audience, in hopes of achieving greatness? Or, at least a B+? Growing up as a competitive figure skater, I had more than my fair share of eyes watching my every move, knowing they would knit-pick all that I’d do. So, when Capital One Canada asked earlier this month if I wanted to be a judgy McJudger who judges during the Enactus Regional Exposition, I didn’t take long to say, “YEAH, BABY!” “Let’s do this!” As part of the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, I was entirely curious to find out how today’s students wanted to make changes for better communities.

And then I realized that I was actually going to have to judge. My thoughts, priorities and biases were going to stand in the way of who was going to move on to the National Exposition, and who will be staying home.

No pressure.

Enactus? What’s That?

I honestly wish I had known that Enactus existed when I was an undecided major at York University, desperately trying to decide what to do when I grew up (I still don’t know, btw.)  I have a feeling that while my path would be widely different from today, Enactus would have been a valuable mentor to an 18-year-old me that was consistently scratching my head on the lawns in front of Vari Hall.

Enactus builds community-conscious business leaders globally, boasting 68 Campuses at our top post-secondary institutions across Canada.

If you know of a student considering their post-secondary options, have them research the heck out of available Enactus campuses from their list of potential schools.

There are three elements that are highly regarded by Enactus students and alumni. Their goal is to develop successful entrepreneurial leaders that will establish social enterprises that are environmental, socially and economically sustainable.

In other words, the average alumni of the Enactus program is given the tools to better our communities, while understanding how to make a board of directors happy.

In the succinct words of an avid Instagrammer:

😍 💪 👊

Check out Enactus Canada’s current stats for success:

Enactus Quick Facts

 

And, What’s Up with Regional Expositions?

The Enactus Central Regional Exposition is comprised of approximately 400 students across central Canada, including George Brown, Ryerson, and University of Ottawa.

The two-day event celebrates and recognizes the entrepreneurial action that student teams across central Canada are taking to drive life-changing projects in their communities.

So Judgmental

Earlier this month, I sat with 18 peers (volunteers from various companies that support Enactus, including Capital One Canada) eager to see what our future business leaders had in store in this latest batch of community conscious students with entrepreneurial spirit competing in the Capital One Financial Education Challenge.

The challenge is put on through a partnership between Capital One Canada and Enactus Canada. It aims to help improve financial literacy and inclusion in communities across Canada using entrepreneurial action. The challenge one of many financial literacy and credit education programs that Capital One Canada is a part of.

Since 2012, the Capital One Financial Education Challenge has engaged 6,316 students across the country, resulting in 620 financial education outreach projects, and directly impacting the financial futures of 69,826 people.

Eight presentations – in the competition stream that I judged – brought to light several financial issues hitting communities, primarily across Ontario, and these bright entrepreneurs are seeking ways to combat these issues in a socially, economic and environmentally sustainable way.

George Brown College presented Change Matters, a project targeting underserved youth (12 to 24 years of age) and their need for financial education. Their project focuses on seminars and workshops that will teach these youths the value of budgeting, expense reduction, saving and building credit.

They have so far directly impacted 172 youths, and increased the overall financial assets by $7,700+.

Ryerson University presented Project Welcome, which is concerned with the financial literacy of the recent Syrian refugees. Uprooted from their homes to a much different way of life (including how taxes work) this project has established that financial literacy education was not readily made available to our new citizens.

Project Welcome has directly impacted 231 by establishing their educational program, increasing their overall assets to $16,800!

Lambton College introduced Strength in Numbers, a project targeting the working poor, the unemployed and the homeless; aiming to provide financial training to individuals that succeeded in job placement with their partnered organization, Youth Jobs Connection. With their new jobs, the targeted group now has the right tools for financial management and goal-setting, budgeting and expense tracking, credit and debit management, and savings and investments.

Strength in Numbers has directly impacted 324 people within their target audience, and has increased the overall financial assets of that target group by $92,200!

A Bit of Advice for Future Enactus Students Researching for Their Competition

Not gonna lie, there were a couple moments where I wanted to channel my inner Cowell, and write something along the lines of “Nope.”

While we judges were instructed to ignore the “flare” that some groups utilized to get their points across, there were other groups that didn’t seem prepared at all, which was a little disappointing.

If you’re a future participant of Enactus and competing in the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, researching what you need to do to prepare, PLEASE, oh please, leave the cue cards at home. Going by the fact that nearly 20 judges on the same panel all had the same idea of NOPE for the group that read directly from their cards, you need to find the time it takes to practice your presentation until you start murmuring it in your sleep.

It was distracting. I honestly had a hard time trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their project.

You need to show the judges that you have confidence in how you’d like to reshape the lives of your community, that you know your stuff through and through.  Regardless of what is true, cue cards suggest that you don’t have a clue of what your entrepreneurial group is doing.

And while we all admire every group for the volunteer work they’ve put in to help the needs of their community…

Reading verbatim from cue cards does not exude confidence.

Enactus Capital One Regional Exposition

Enactus students and alumni networking while waiting to hear which teams will move on to the National Exposition.

Would You Judge Again?

I would sign up for this gig again in a heartbeat. It was exciting to see all of these bright, eager students wanting to change a bit of their world through the power of entrepreneurship.

The winners from this year’s Regionals, will be moving on to the national competition taking place in Vancouver, where one lucky Enactus team will be named the Capital One Financial Education Challenge National Champion.

Check out last year’s National Exposition winners, Enactus Memorial: Project SucSeed.

And congratulations to the groups that did a fantastic job at this year’s Central Canada Regionals Exposition for Capital One’s Financial Education Challenge!

 

 

This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada, however all thoughts are my own.

Living in Superman’s Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, squees over comic art, hunts down the nerdiest places to visit and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction. Read More…

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