Committee Corner: Enactus in Ethiopia

By Zoë van den Brink & Janna Dijkstra

 “Use your talent to improve the lives of people worldwide”

In this recurring feature, the Boomerang will take a look into the heart of our many committees. What goes on at those closed borrels and board meetings? What do they busy themselves with between events? Which goals have they achieved so far? First up: Enactus.

Enactus is a non-profit organization that strives to improve communities through sustainable development plans. This business group is completely run by students and has branches all over the world. Enactus distinguishes itself from normal entrepreneurship enterprises by its focus on social (re)form instead of just money. When Enactus identifies a target group that needs their help, the organization comes up with a sustainable business idea. Eventually, they withdraw from the project, transferring their tasks to the target group so that it becomes a self-sufficient project that no longer needs continued support from Enactus.

The UCU Enactus team is currently working on providing our sister University in Ethiopia with some much needed supplies through ‘Project Wollega’. Co-chair of Enactus, Gustaaf van Oosterom, tells us: “The students are forced to pay high prices for basic school supplies. Together with their student association we are developing a plan to build a stationary shop on their campus, making school supplies easily accessible and affordable.”

Enactus organized several events last year, including an art sale, a ‘tosti’ sale, and a bar party to fund the project. “We also sold school supplies in Dining Hall at the beginning of the semester. Everything was sold out very quickly,” Gustaaf adds. Important steps towards the realization of the campus shop in Ethiopia are being taken.

However, communication between Enactus and the student organization at Wollega University has proven to be challenging at times due to their limited Internet access. “We are waiting for their drafted business plan before we can go further.” Gustaaf says.  Two UCU staff members are planning to go to Ethiopia in December, followed by two students from Enactus in January. They will familiarize themselves with the school, which has a similar liberal arts philosophy, and will help set up the shop.

The good news is that the Ethiopian campus already contains a building that could be used to sell the supplies. The money that would initially have been invested in the construction of this facility can now be saved for any troubles that may arise in the future. “Ultimately we will take a step back. They will take over the book keeping and run the operation.”

Gustaaf adds that new members are more than welcome. According to him, “an Enactus member should be dedicated, curious and take initiative.” So, if any of you cherish dreams of changing the world, take that first small step and join Enactus.


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