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These explorations are as personal as starting a small-business to as global as proposing solutions for issues facing our world today.
Kicking off the 2019 spring semester, Whittier College and Hang Seng Management University of Hong Kong (HSMU) joined forces to present the inaugural Social Innovation Competition.
The competition, jointly sponsored by both institutions, included teams comprised of one student from each college to present a socially innovative project that would assist in the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The cross-national student pairs addressed UN themes including responsible production and consumption, quality education, sustainable cities and communities, and the elimination of poverty.
After collaborating for two months via Skype and social media (working around a 16-hour time difference), HSMU students visited the Whittier campus to participate in the final presentation of their projects. During their presentations, the students shared their new ideas for an audience of peers and professionals and also competed for thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
First place winners, Nathan Armas and Lam Chun Kai (Thomas), focused on quality education and won the grand prize of $2,500. First place means that the pair has the opportunity to launch their proposed project with the help of additional $4,000 in seed funding. Second and third place winners were awarded $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
Your great business idea deserves to be taken seriously. Madeleine McMurray, Daniel Leewood, and the three other students in their group had such a chance for theirs.
In Professor Fatos Radoniqi’s ’06 Leadership Practicum course, Madeleine and Daniel teamed up with their classmates to pursue an online book-lending business for Whittier College students. As part of that, they registered with Enactus, an international non-profit that works with businesses and higher education leaders to help students become socially responsible business leaders and make a difference in their communities.
Madeleine, Daniel, and their group wanted to create a new market for college schoolbooks—a business that could directly help their fellow classmates. With Professor Radoniqi as their mentor, the team researched the idea from every angle and came away from the project with a host of new insights into how to start a business.
“It makes you think about what it means to have a start-up,” Madeleine said.
“It was definitely a teaching experience,” Daniel added. “It pushed us.”