By Nicole Almond
Youth Guide to Sustainable Business
Let Me Introduce You to This Topic...
As social and environmental issues dominate the headlines, young leaders are eager to act. I have been working with young leaders in the social enterprise world for two decades, and my work has taken me around the world. I’ve seen first-hand how social entrepreneurship solves problems and improves lives, and I can confidently say that Canada is one of the best places to implement these solutions and grow as a social entrepreneur. Social enterprises continue to employ millions of people worldwide thanks to its societal contributions and benefits, Canada is a frontrunner in this space.
According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Deutsche Bank, Canada is ranked first in the world for access to impact investment due to availability of grant funding, and second as an environment for growing social enterprises. Canada is also ranked first for the ability to make a living through social entrepreneurship and continues to set an example on a global scale.
Our Enactus network is designed to help these pioneers of social change thrive in making a positive impact on the world, whilst using fundamental business practices, thanks to the cooperation and oversight of some of the world’s most successful organizations. Our students and alumni never cease to amaze us with the work they do and continue to set the bar even higher for future social entrepreneurs. Nuha Siddiqui, a former Enactus UofT student, is now the co- founder and CEO of EcoPackers, a social enterprise that uses the power of plans to create 100% compostable and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional plastic packaging, replacing traditional polystyrene and polypropylene.
Much like Nuha and many other success stories, we need to ensure that Canada’s youth is engaging in the issues that matter. You have the power to affect change, and the time to start is now. So, if youʼre considering a future in social entrepreneurship, here’s my advice for you.
– Don’t let age deter you from pursuing greatness. Young people are literally wired for innovation. According to research conducted by the University of Waterloo, our innovation potential begins to decline after age 24. Itʼs critical to tap into this innovation before it subsides!
– Leverage your resources! Most post-secondary campuses have programs that can help kick-start a career in social entrepreneurship.
– Network: Get involved in programs inside and outside the classroom and build connections with others. The more people you connect with, the likeliness of opportunity coming your way will be much higher!
Nicole's Reading List
University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo have published a 33-page document that covers youth-led social entrepreneurship. I consider this to be very useful for students wanting to pursue social enterprise.
University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo have created their Youth and Innovation Project. The project works to ensure young people are engaged in finding solutions to social, environmental and economic problems. This is a great example of an initiative that is relevant to social enterprise and starting a career as a social entrepreneur.
Ilona Dougherty, Managing Director of the Youth and Innovation Research Project at the University of Waterloo, gave a TED Talk about our ability to innovate.
About the Author
Nicole Almond is the President of Enactus Canada, a national charitable organization that is shaping generations of entrepreneurial leaders. She developed a passion for community development originally as an Enactus student, creating and implementing educational outreach projects in Egypt, Grenada and Canada. Over the past decade she’s mentored hundreds of students, her fellow Enactus country chapter presidents, and a team of dedicated staff, exemplifying her expertise in youth entrepreneurship and skills development. In addition to being an alumna and President of Enactus Canada, Nicole served as Chair of the Ovarian Cancer Canada Toronto walk for several years and sits on the Board of the Pink Pearl Foundation.