ETSI-BC Grant Fuels Entrepreneurship at Okanagan College

The nationally-acclaimed Enactus entrepreneurial development program at Okanagan College is about to scale up with a $25,000 grant from ETSI-BC. The new funding is the largest grant that EnactusOC has received since launching at Okanagan College in 2005. The funding will enable Enactus to expand some of its successful projects, start new projects, and improve its IT infrastructure, allowing it to better support students in developing entrepreneurial skills.

Enactus is the world`s largest post-secondary experiential learning platform, operating in academic institutions in 37 countries. Guided and supported by faculty members and business leaders, students volunteer to create and deliver social, economic and environmental projects that meet needs in their communities. This augments their classroom training with real-world business experience, blending community engagement with entrepreneurial action that can transform students` personal and professional lives.

Addressing Climate Change while Solving Food Insecurity

The new funding will help expand one of the EnactusOC flagship projects, the Unusually Good Food Co. The project addresses climate change and food insecurity by collecting apples that would otherwise go to waste and turning them into food products. In 2021, 25,000 lbs. of apples were turned into 900 boxes of fresh pressed cider and funds from juice sales used to produce dehydrated apple snacks which are distributed to schools and food banks. With this new funding, Unusually Good Food Co. will be able to increase production and enhance community education through field trips for school children to teach them about sustainable farming, food insecurity, and the value to contributing to one`s community.

Addressing Social Issues and Empowering Indigenous Youth

The ETSI-BC funding will also help Enactus expand and launch new initiatives such as Rising, a social enterprise that provides learning modules for teachers to educate youth about contemporary issues in society such as sustainable fashion, homelessness, and social media. Another new project involves a collaboration with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society to empower Indigenous youth to channel their creativity while learning entrepreneurial skills.

Enactus will also use some of the ETSI-BC funding to invest in its IT infrastructure, enhancing their ability to host team-building and networking events, and increase access to business skills workshops.

Across Many Campuses

EnactusOC projects take place on Okanagan College campuses in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Salmon Arm. The projects have demonstrated positive impacts in ten communities served by these campuses. In 2021, even during the pandemic, EnactusOC ran projects that directly addressed climate action, food insecurity, homelessness, and financial literacy, directly impacting 26,000 individuals. Students are involved at every stage of a project, from planning through implementation and tracking the impact and outcomes.

Larger Impacts

Given the region`s labour shortage, a significant benefit of the program is that many Enactus alumni remain in the community after their education, using their entrepreneurial skills to start and run businesses, serve as community leaders, create new jobs, and inspire others to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits.

“Our mission at ETSI-BC is to support economic development projects that will have long-lasting and measurable impacts,” says ETSI-BC CEO Laurel Douglas. “The work of Enactus strongly aligns with the ETSI-BC strategic pillars, and allows both organizations to increase our economic impact in the region.”

Danielle Walker, current president of EnactusOC, says this new funding will make a significant difference during a year when the organization has seen record interest from students. “Already in January of this year, we have 50 active volunteers – double the number we had this time last year – and it`s been driven by the pandemic,” says Walker. “There is a real desire to get back to connecting with people and making a difference.”

“We are excited to see how this grant helps EnactusOC grow, teaching more people entrepreneurship and community development skills while generating insights and learning for future projects,” says Douglas.

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