If you were in Johannesburg, South Africa over the last two weeks, you would have definitely stumbled upon some young students dressed in either formal business attire or very colorful traditional outfits ranging from Japanese Kimonos to Pharaohs’ costumes, and Xhoso dresses. This is all because 2000+ of students representing universities from 38 countries around the world are here competing in an event run by enactus. Enactus started operations in the United States 40 years ago, it gives college students the opportunity to develop and use their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge and enable the communities around them in need with various solutions and projects. Every university gets to compete in national competitions held annually. The National Champions from the 38 countries gets to represent their countries in the prestigious World Cup with a written report and a 17-minute live presentation highlighting their entrepreneurial projects aiming at making the world a better place.
This year, enpact had two representatives attending this prestigious event; Maha, one of our Moroccan fellows for her role as enactus Morocco Program Manager & Essam Sharaf, our regional manager in Egypt & Jordan judging the competition.
The three-day competition filled with excitement and enthusiastic features college students taking us through a journey of the origins, implementation and the outcomes of the ventures they decided to address this year within various communities in need varying from basic human needs like clean water, food security, access to energy & empowering youth. By the end of the second day, only 16 countries will advance to the Semi-Finals and as the crowd quits down to hear the announcer naming the countries making their way to the next round and going one step further in crowning their year-long efforts by being named the World Champions. All countries enpact is working in and are presenting in Enactus World Cup make it through the first round. Germany, Egypt, Tunisia & Morocco advance to the next round and get another change to impress the judges with their entrepreneurial skills and projects.
University of Mannheim representing enactus Germany worked on 12 different projects and presented two of those in front of the judging panel. Sanagua, where they developed a unique filtering system to remove toxic arsenic and bacteria from water in Argentina. The system is completely powered by the sun and produces 60,000 liters of clean drinking water per month. Their second project, Sunte, is revolutionizing healthcare services in Togo by combining solar panels with a charging service for cell phones. This encourages locals to visit their healthcare units more to use the charging service which they used to walk for 45 minutes daily to do and by generating a revenue which they use to buy more medications and equipment.
While the German team tackled international communities, the Tunisian team from IHEC Carthage decided to direct their projects into marginalized communities within their country. Ecolibree is a project they initiated to serve girls in rural region of Makther where they can’t afford to buy disposable pads. Ecolibree is a brand of washable sanitary pads manufactured in the village itself by training three seamstresses on the quality and hygienic measures involved. Their second project was creating a women group for agricultural development working on extracting essential oils from the plants in their village to create a stable source of living that would enable them to support their families.
Enactus Egypt represented by Cairo University tackled the international crisis of refugees from a local point of view working with Syrian & Sudanese refugees in Cairo by collaborating with various NGOs & existing Egyptian entrepreneurs and integrating the refugees in their businesses as producers, retailers and customers. The second project utilized the power of the sun in Upper Egypt to combat the ever-increasing cost of gas cylinders by designing and mainstreaming solar ovens tailored to the Egyptian markets.
Enactus Mohammadia School of Engineers in Morocco advanced to the Final Round of competition being among United States, United Kingdom & Korea where they got to present their projects in front of a 100+ panel of judges & taking center stage in front of 1500+ attendees at the Sandton City Convention Center. They explained to the audience the rationale and their implementation model behind their two projects. Breathe, offering clean cooking solutions to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment conducive to development and social progress. Access Water Project ensures a sustainable access to clean drinking water and improve health and living standards by creating local businesses that produce and sell low cost point of use water purification products in both Morocco & Mauritania.
In the end, the team from United Kingdom from the University of Southampton claimed the 2015 Enactus World Cup as theirs after giving a sensational presentation about the projects they undertook in Kenya & across Africa. Their flagship project, SanEco aims to provide sanitary solutions across impoverished communities through the empowerment of entrepreneurs. They recruited, trained and support 121 entrepreneurs in the production of re-useable sanitary towels, natural soap or toilets which convert waste into fertiliser, all of which are sustainable businesses and saving lives.
It was a pleasure being in Enactus World Cup 2015 and I’m sure 2016 in Toronto, Canada will bring much passionate & energetic leaders of today and tomorrow together again.
By Essam Sharaf | Photo: enactus