Three social enterprise projects created by QUT students have won a national social innovation competition, and will now represent QUT and Australia at the Enactus World Cup in California.
It’s the first time a Queensland team has been chosen to represent Australia at the international competition.
Enactus is a global organisation for university students who use their entrepreneurial skills and compassion to create real world projects that benefit the community.
The QUT team, led by faculty advisor Marvin Fox from the QUT Business School and Enactus QUT president Chelsea Phillips (business/fine arts student), beat teams from 12 other universities at Australia’s Enactus National Competition in Sydney this month.
They will now head to California in October to take on more than 36 teams from around the world at the Enactus World Cup.
The QUT team presented three projects in Sydney, which were chosen from a QUT ‘changemakers’ event earlier this year.
The Unknown Project, led by Olivia Roney (business/law student): This refugee-focused enterprise is based on the theme of – literally – never judging a book by its cover. Volunteers wrap donated books in brown paper, write three clues on the front, then sell the surprise packages at markets and to event organisers as guest gifts. The money raised is used to buy much needed school supplies and resources for school students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.
Best Foot Forward, led by Patrick Gorenac (business student): This venture works with Indigenous artists to produce socks and scarves that are sold online, with half the profits donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation. Three in every four Indigenous children struggle to read. The ILF gifts books to remote Indigenous communities and runs literacy programs.
Health Review Bot, led by Lily Kennedy (business student): This project encourages people who are already in a GP’s waiting room to scan a QR code with their phone and talk to a chatbot for a quick mental health screening. It aims to capture the estimated 600,000 Australians who have mental health challenges but have never been diagnosed or received treatment.
Patrick Gorenac said Enactus QUT came up with the Best Foot Forward concept last year and the enterprise started selling socks and scarves online four months ago.
“Going to the Enactus World Cup is a phenomenal opportunity, not only for me personally but to showcase Indigenous art and culture on an international stage and give our artists that platform too,” he said.
“I’ve grown really attached to Best Foot Forward and I want to stay involved with the enterprise next year after I graduate. When you buy form Best Foot Forward you are getting so more than a fancy pair of socks – you’re supporting and learning about Indigenous culture.”
Patrick will finish his business degree in a few months and has already secured a graduate position in management consulting with PwC Australia.
Olivia Roney started The Unknown Project with her best friend and fellow law student Rory McGahan, who is also heading to the World Cup with the team.
“Both Rory and I are very passionate about it,” she said.
“The book wrapping idea was already out there – I’d seen it in Paris when I was on a student on exchange in Austria. Rory and I had both already done volunteer work with organisations that helped refugees so when I came home to Australia we decided to go for it and do it as a fundraiser for these communities.”
While most Enactus students are further along in their studies, Lily Kennedy has only been at uni for six months.
She joined Enactus just after starting her PR degree and exploring QUT club options.
“I’ve been a volunteer for various organisations and wanted to continue being involved in projects that empower the community,” she said.
“I love that I get to work with so many like-minded people at Enactus.
“Going to the World Cup is incredibly exciting for us as current students, but it also honours all the people who have been involved in Enactus QUT over the years and worked hard to build it.”
Marvin Fox from the QUT Business School has worked with Enactus students for the past four years as an advisor.
“It’s added so much to their university experience,” he said.
“They all see the value of developing their career profiles through co-curricular activities, so to me they’ve always been winners!
“Creating and developing these social enterprises not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world,” he said.
Last year’s Enactus World Cup was won by India’s Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies for projects that increased sanitation in slum communities and empowered poor women to open computer centres with recycled IT equipment.