Big Solutions for Global Problems: UW Enactus Team Shines at National Exposition

In November 2014, a motivated UW frosh named Bo Peng launched a chapter of the social entrepreneurship organization Enactus at the University of Waterloo. Along with their faculty advisor, Conrad Associate Director of Graduate Programs David Rose, Peng and his team attended the Enactus National Exposition this week. There, they presented two ventures – one tackling world hunger and the other addressing waste management in developing countries.

The UW Enactus team and their advisor David Rose

The UW Enactus team with their advisor David Rose

The UW Enactus team advanced to the semifinals at the exposition, placing in the top 16 of 58 universities from across Canada. The team was applauded by judges for the innovation, ambition, and high potential impact of their projects. For his leadership, Peng was also given the Enactus Rising Star Award, recognizing outstanding performance by a first year student.

Improving the World through Entrepreneurship

Enactus is a global community of students, academics, and business leaders, united by the goal of achieving progress through entrepreneurial action. Every year, they host regional and national Student Entrepreneur Expositions in which student teams gather to showcase their community outreach projects and socially-minded business ventures. Their presentations are judged by business leaders, and the winning team advances to the Enactus World Cup.

This year’s National Exposition was held from May 11-13 in Toronto. Bo Peng, Annie Chen, Abhishek Jain, Amy Hwang, Nirupan Eilamurugan, and Annie Huang represented Waterloo at the event, along with a contingent of Conrad supporters. In total, the UW Enactus team is composed of forty-seven members from a wide variety of faculties and academic years.

Cricket Farming and Waste Management

Not content to dabble in low-impact, stop-gap solutions, the UW Enactus team focuses on applying their multidisciplinary skills to significant problems facing the world today and designing creative and ambitious solutions. 

Their first project aims to help mitigate the crisis of world hunger through cricket farming. The scope of the problem is huge: 805 million people worldwide currently suffer from undernourishment, many of them in developing countries. Cricket farming offers a compelling solution, because crickets are a nutrient-efficient food source, requiring far fewer resources to produce than other protein. It takes only one gallon of water to produce a pound of crickets; by contrast, it takes 2000 gallons of water to produce an equivalent amount of beef. Cricket farming also provides a new revenue stream for low-income families.

The group’s second project seeks to establish a plastic waste buy-back centre in Moshi, Tanzania, in partnership with an international organization called Anza. The centre will purchase recycled PET and HDPE plastics from individuals, then shred and ship the plastics to large-scale buyers at a profit. Not only does this scheme divert waste from the landfill and streets, it also provides a stable and fair income for under served community members.

UW Enactus team pitching

The team during their pitch

Bolstered by the encouragement they received at the National Exposition, the UW Enactus team is forging ahead with the development and refinement of their ideas. They have created a prototype cricket farm which they plan to test in collaboration with local farmers this summer. In addition, three team members are traveling to Tanzania to conduct fieldwork and research for their waste management centre plans.

Congratulations to the UW Enactus team! We can’t wait to see what you bring to next year’s exposition. 

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