High school students from the North Shore challenged with the task of creating a sustainable business
Annalisse Crosswell, Associate News Editor
Photos provided by Ekaterina Sergeeva
Enactus Capilano held their third annual Counting on Action competition at Capilano University on Feb 7. The project aims to create opportunities for North Vancouver high school students to get real world experience in creating a business with a sustainable focus. Enactus Capilano is a part of the global non-profit Enactus, that, according to their website, “helps students unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and develop the talent and perspective essential to leadership in our ever-changing world.” Enactus seeks to create these initiatives while also aligning with the UN 17 sustainable goals.
Three years ago when the organisation was introduced to the University, Andrew Procknow, Enactus Capilano vice-president, Ursula Beihl, a former Counting On Action project manager, and Betty Huang created their own program with similar goals. The group has since hosted Counting on Action along with their other project, Square One, with huge success.
The project involves high school students from across the North Shore taking part in nine workshops led by program representatives over the course of three months. The project then culminates in a one-day competition judged by internal and external judges at CapU.
This year, Counting on Action was led by Project Managers Ekaterina Sergeeva, also a CapU senate representative, and Michelle Zhen, whose goal was to move the program towards a more self-sustaining model that teachers could implement in their own classrooms. “…our goal for students was to… give them the experience that they need and, if they ever want to know how to run a business after they graduate high school, just kind of paint a real picture so they actually know what a business consists of…” said Sergeeva.
Students followed a set of criteria that their companies and final presentations must fulfill, such as sustainable orientation, marketing plans and budgets. With these in mind, students, with the help of program representatives, created a business and sold their products. To kick-start their businesses the students were given microloans and instructed to use their profits to pay this microloan back and donate the rest to a charity of their choice.
When students had reached competition day it was clear they had some confidence in what they were doing, answering judges questions about their products and continuing their presentations through technical difficulties. “It’s really crazy, because when you go into the classrooms, because that’s what I did last year… the students are all pretty standoffish at first, they don’t really know what’s happening or what’s going on,” said Sergeeva. “Then seeing how they develop and how they present at the end… they come up with some really cool things.”
This years winning group, Scoap, consisted of a group of West Vancouver Secondary students who produced environmentally-friendly and easily-portable soap strips. During their presentation, the group discussed how they first tried to market their product door-to-door but ultimately turned to utilizing parent-teacher interviews to sell to a market that was accessible to them. After paying back their microloan the group ended up donating over $350 to charity.
Counting on Action 2019 has received positive feedback and, despite the challenges of organising an event such as this, Sergeeva noted that those involved helped to make the arrangements go smoothly. She said that this was also helped by the support and encouragement of Faculty Representative and Business Instructor, Karen Okun. Sergeeva also encouraged some students from her classes to come watch the competition, who were impressed by the competing students. “I think it’s really interesting and it’s really nice to see all the final results, but it’s nice when other people can actually see the results too.”