By Noluthando Tsoko
If Enactus is a term that has not reached your vocabulary yet, you might need to question your existence. I’m kidding, please mind my manners. I honestly could tell you all about it (and I will) and you still would not fully grasp the depth of what it is I am on about. Ultimately, I hope that you will be interested in enlarging the scope of your university experience once you have finished reading this.
Let me take you through the technicality of it. Enactus is a global non-profit organization with over 62 000 students and has chapters in more than 1 600 tertiary institutions in 38 countries around the world. Enactus aims to create sustainable community development projects through entrepreneurial action, globally. Students are encouraged to implement strategic projects, which address the unique needs of communities and/or individuals from an entrepreneurial stance. In partnership with business and academic leaders, communities and/or individuals are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve their standard of living and quality of life.
The aim for each chapter is to run these multiple development projects with a team of dedicated members in order to improve lives in an economic, environmental and social way (triple bottom line). See I am a Tukkie so I represent the University of Pretoria chapter of the South African organisations. I began my empowering journey in 2014 as a junior member in Project Mohlakeng where Enactus UP created a market to raise funds for St Johns Devine Orphanage and Outreach in the West of Gauteng. To cut a long story short, I grew so close to the programme that I ran for the position of events manager and mentor in the executive committee in August 2014 and democracy elected me as such.
To say that I grew close to the programme is my vocabulary failing me, only because there are no words to fully describe my experience. Let me paint this picture for you. In 2015 we got the opportunity to work with the young female entrepreneurs of Rethaka pty(Ltd) whom have established their business on the basis of education, solar energy and upcycling. What that means is that they manufacture Repurpose Schoolbags from used shopping bags and add a compartment where a solar panel (installed onto a lid of a solar jar) can be exposed to sunlight in order to charge the lightbulb capacity of the solar jar. We got the opportunity to work with these amazing individuals and experience their growth.
In an environment where you get to witness growth in so many people around you going through the same amazement and stretch as you, one of the best things is living that growth in yourself. Besides my now no-mediocre Power Point, networking, leadership skills and professionalism, my biggest lesson has been the importance of prioritising. Existing in a generation with the attention span of a tweet, maintaining the will to know and stay in your lane may seem like a bore. Enactus UP has opened my eyes to the things that matter the most.
In July our different teams (26 universities in South Africa) meet to compete in measuring the impact that each team has achieved through the projects they’ve made the most progress in. The winners of the national competition get to compete in the Enactus World Cup Competition which was hosted in an African country (South Africa) for the first time in 2015. The competition aspect adds a motivation that keeps us on our toes, and this year it’s in Canada. This event is happening on 27 and 28 July this year so you may keep up with the live tweets with @enactusZA or check out the Facebook page Enactus ZA to see the triumph play out.
I heard about Enactus when I was in grade 11 and made sure that I searched high and low for the University of Pretoria team when I started my undergraduate degree. I have never regretted that decision since. Especially now that I am working and can see how my professional experience in running a non-profit organisation has elevated my competence in the workplace where I am the youngest and least experience but can’t be defeated by any task.
All of us have our own Enactus story but they are all tied by immense individual and collective growth. Find your team in your respective university and see what they could have in store for you or go to enactusza.org for more information.