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Enactus Okanagan College receives three national grants in support of local entrepreneurship
Okanagan College Media Release

Brent Basil Dec 2014Enactus Okanagan College is the only college in Canada and one of only five post-secondary institutions across Canada to receive three or more national partnership grants from Enactus Canada to support entrepreneurship in the Okanagan. 

The grants are evidence that the non-profit student-run organization is making good on its goal of using the power of entrepreneurial action to help individuals in need. 

The Enactus Okanagan College students have already applied funds from two of the grants to encourage social entrepreneurship in young people and have launched a new social enterprise, InnSpire, to generate funds for a homeless shelter in Kelowna. 

The grants are part of the Enactus Canada partnership program and include the Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur Project Partnership sponsored by the RBC Foundation and presented by Futurpreneur, the BDC Entrepreneurs First Project Partnership, and the 3M Canada Problem Solving Project Partnership. 

“Being selected for the three grants goes to show how much effort our team, and our community partners put into our programs,” said Tom Arrowsmith, president of Enactus Okanagan College. “These grants add an extra level of validity to our programs by having them be nationally recognized.”

Dr. Kyleen Myrah is the faculty advisor helping oversee the newly launched InnSpire venture, which is a partnership with Inn From the Cold. The students have created a social enterprise that generates revenue from the sale of donated soap. The funds support Inn From the Cold’s Chandler House and the students get the chance to put their business skills to use.  

“The goal of this project is to run a social enterprise; providing a sustainable source of revenue that also serves to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness, promote the work of the Inn From the Cold organization, and provide long-term employable opportunities for the men in the Chandler house,” said Myrah. 

The Enactus Okanagan College students launched the social enterprise in November using the proceeds from the 3M Project Solving Partnership as seed money. The project has already achieved several thousand dollars in revenues for Inn From the Cold. Future plans for the project include expanding the number of sales locations and the product base to further support the sustainability of the program.

The Unleash Social Business Case Competition funded by RBC and presented by Futurpreneur was hosted at Accelerate Okanagan during Entrepreneurship week in November. This case competition pitted teams of students working together to develop sustainable business plans to address social issues facing our community. 

The finalist from the program presented their case to a panel of judges. Karen Vandergaag, a member of the winning team, described the experience and the winning case.

“When we received the case, my team looked at how we could take a few social issues in our community and bring together some entrepreneurial ideas to come up with a solution,” said Vandergaag. “I got a lot of value from the process of turning our ideas into a concept that would solve some of Kelowna’s pressing social problems.”

The BDC Entrepreneurs First Grant will be used to support the growth and expansion of Venture Okanagan. Venture Okanagan provides a forum for start-ups to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and other potential funders.  

In addition to connecting startups with investors, Venture Okanagan also provides mentorship and support throughout the multi-week process. This competitive forum will be held again in the spring of 2015.