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Enactus UCalgary members heading to national competition

The Empower program was named the second runner-up at regionals

Enactus UCalgary

Members of Enactus UCalgary’s Empower program have been recognized for their impact on the community. // Submitted

Some students from the University of Calgary are headed to Montreal next week to take part in a national competition.

Members of Enactus UCalgary will represent the city at the Enactus Canada National Exposition. It’s a chance for students to showcase the difference they are making with their community empowerment projects.

Earlier this month, Enactus UCalgary’s Empower program was named the second runner-up in Enactus Canada’s TD Entrepreneurship Challenge Western Regional Competition.

Empower is one of five social entrepreneurship projects that Enactus UCalgary students from across campus work on throughout the school year.

“The program offers weekly entrepreneurial workshops guided by University of Calgary student mentors and taught by business professionals, professors, and entrepreneurs,” says Lauren Gross, Enactus UCalgary’s vice-president of marketing.

“We work with immigrant women entrepreneurs that are new to Calgary within the past few years and looking to start their own business.”

Students work with immigrant women entrepreneurs. // Submitted

Filling a gap in the community

While Calgary has many immigrant and entrepreneurship programs, not many encompass both, Gross says, so Empower tries to fill that gap.

“Help women cross both bridges of getting adjusted to living in Canada and making connections and building their network, and at the same time trying to understand the Canadian business system,” she says.

Each year, approximately 20 student mentors are paired up with immigrant women to learn about what goes into starting a business.

“They don't even have to be business students that know all the answers because we bring in professionals and professors to teach the content,” Gross says.

“And then the students learn alongside the women… helping them build out their specific business models.”

This year, 17 business plans were developed and presented at the end-of-year pitch competition. The winners receive monetary grants to help get their businesses started.

Breaking down barriers

Gross says the Empower program is always growing and evolving. During the pandemic, live-streamed classes and virtual calling options were offered, making the program more accessible.

Next year, the plan is to digitize more content and create an online platform to help increase the number of immigrant women who participate.

“That's one of the great things about a student program like that is you get so many fresh ideas and energy year after year,” Gross says.

“As well, the women that come into the Empower program also bring so much energy and so much enthusiasm. Sometimes they don't even have a business that they are enthusiastic about yet.”

Gross says she gets goosebumps seeing the women apply the skills they learn through Empower in the real world.

“It's energizing to get to see the real work that's happening.”

The Empower program gives women valuable education. // Submitted

Preparing for an energizing competition

Since Empower came in second runner-up at the Enactus regional competition, members have been working hard to prepare for the National Exposition.

Gross says it’s gratifying for the work and impact of the program to be recognized.

After several weeks of fine-tuning the presentation and rehearsals, Gross says members are looking forward to representing Enactus UCalgary in Montreal.

“It's a very energizing competition because you see all the fantastic work that other people are doing, too. There's a lot of good coming out of this,” she says, adding it’s inspiring to learn about other projects from across the country.

“They get so excited to get up there and talk about it, and you can absolutely feel the passion in the room just radiating.”

The top team from the national competition will go on to compete at the Enactus World Cup in October.

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