WHATSOC: Enactus!

Southampton University’s Enactus team have won the National Championships for the third time in a row, qualifying for the World Cup later this year. The Tab caught up with Collette Blackman, […]

Southampton University’s Enactus team have won the National Championships for the third time in a row, qualifying for the World Cup later this year. The Tab caught up with Collette Blackman, this year’s LearnENG Project Leader.

1)      So, what exactly does your society do? Give us a quick summary.

Enactus is a worldwide organization that stands for entrepreneurial action for the greater good. We run projects within our universities, both locally and internationally, which aim to improve people’s standard of living and quality of life through the power of business! One example is our Right Light project which transfers business and economic concepts to Kenyans so that they can set up their own business renting solar lamps to their community.

This year's team!

This year’s team!

2)      What is your role in the society?

My role this year has been Project Leader of LearnENG, which is one of our local education projects. I am responsible for the running of the project, creating teaching materials, motivating my team and liaising with local partners. It’s a challenging role but so much fun and great experience!

3)      Congratulations on being national champions yet again! Can you run us through what you had to do for the competition?

Thanks! So the national competition runs annually and involves all the qualifying universities in the country. We compete by doing presentations to a panel of judges, detailing our most successful projects, such as this year we presented Right Light, Find Your Path and SanEco. You pass through 3 rounds, the opening round semi-finals and then the final, where you compete against 4 other teams in front of 50 judges and up to another 800 spectators. We are judged on how much impact we have had on those in need and whether we have successfully improved their standard of living and quality of life. Being on the presentation team requires a lot of dedication and passion for the society as it’s a lot of work and can get very stressful at times, but I can honestly say it has been one the best experiences I have ever had!

4)      So how did you guys make yourselves stand out from the others?

It was very tight this year and we were up against some amazing teams who have some truly inspiring projects. But I think what won it for us was our SanEco project which provides rural Kenyans with a toilet business- we showed them how to make toilets from recyclable materials and how to use the human waste as fertilizer for their land. It also empowers women to make and sell sanitary towels and education girls in their local area on menstruation. This is something no other team has done before and a lot of people congratulated the SanEco team on their innovative thinking! But the key thing about Enactus is that all over the world, thousands of students are doing amazing work entirely voluntarily to better the lives of others, and for that reason we are all winners.

5)      Why did you first decide to become part of the society?

Enactus is a truly amazing society to be part of and I would encourage anyone to consider joining! Personally, I got roped in to the free pizza at the welcome talk, but I haven’t looked back since! I joined at first because I wanted to join a society that helped others and would also give me invaluable skills for employment after Uni and this ticked all the boxes.

6)      What’s the best thing about your society?

Warning; it’s going to get cheesy from here on in! There are so many skills to be gained from the experiences this society offers. This time last year, I would never have thought I was capable of presenting in front of thousands of people and representing my country at the world cup, or leading a team of people, but it just goes to show you can do anything if you put your mind to it! I have been able to network with some really cool people- the other day I met Nick Holzherr from The Apprentice 2011, and I have been to various leadership training events all over the UK.

I have also had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC and now Cancun in September, and am very proud to be representing my country there. I have also made some friends for life as our society is like one big happy family, and even though we work extremely hard, we follow the ethos ‘work hard, play hard’. Some of my best experiences at Uni have been spent with these guys! The best thing about this society though is knowing that someone somewhere is benefitting from our work and we have changed their life for the better. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing to achieve.

7)      Does your society have any weird traditions or stories?

To be honest, we’re all a bunch of nutters. At the nationals after party, the boys carried out the Jesters tradition of stripping to Baywatch, and Nottingham also joined in so now the Jesters spirit has spread across the UK!

8)      Jesters or Sobar?

Always Jesters (not sure if the rest of the team will agree with me though!)

9)      Soton Tab or Wessex Scene?

Soton Tab of course!

To get involved with Enactus, visit their website at http://www.sifesouthampton.com/ or join their Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/Enactus.Southampton