Recently I dusted off my old teacher pants, popped on a printed blouse and blazer, strung some pearls around my neck and made my way downtown to the World Trade and Convention Centre to guest judge the Capital One Financial Education Challenge at the Enactus Regional Exposition – Atlantic Canada (which takes place through a partnership between Capital One Canada and Enactus Canada).
Fighting back the tears, there were definite moments of pure inspiration. The students really brought their a-game, and I felt so fortunate to be able to ask questions, provide feedback, and help guide their programs to a better future.
Pencil in hand and an evaluating rubric laid out in front of me, I was more than comfortable in my role as a judge. While you might not think of me as the first choice for giving business advice, I did do a teaching degree and if there’s one thing I can do, its evaluate a presentation. I really felt like I was back in the classroom again, and I’m not going to lie this self-described dork was grinning from ear to ear.
What is Enactus?
Enactus stands for “ENtrepreneurial ACTion for others creates a better world for US all”. It is an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. The overall program aims to tackle the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which have been set for 2030.
Enactus provides a platform where teams of outstanding university and college students create community development projects that put people’s own ingenuity and talents at the centre of improving their own lives.
Guided by educators and supported by business leaders, Enactus students take an entrepreneurial approach that empowers people to be a part of their own success. The work transforms both the lives of the people who are served, as well as the lives of the students who take part in the program.
Programs are volunteer-based (meaning the students create these programs on top of their regular school work) and financed through fundraising efforts by the students, partnerships with local businesses, awards from Enactus competitions and grants from the government.
Students from 36 countries around the world present their work and outcomes in local regional competitions and national competitions. One team from each country’s national competition goes on to compete in the annual Enactus World Cup, which changes location every year.
In 2016, the Enactus World Cup took place in Toronto, ON, bringing business influencers from around the country and globe together to celebrate the amazing achievements of Enactus participants.
In Canada, regional competitions consist of four national challenges, including the Capital One Financial Education Challenge (which is the one I had the pleasure of judging). During the national competition, winning teams from the regional competitions compete to be crowned national champion of their category.
Since 2012, the Capital One Financial Education Challenge has engaged 6,316 students across the country, resulting in 620 financial education outreach projects, and directly impacting the financial futures of 69,826 people.
The Capital One Financial Education Challenge
Teams must demonstrate how they identified their chosen audience was lacking financial literacy skills, knowledge or education and how this lack of knowledge was a barrier to financial independence. Teams then show how they addressed those needs using a collaborative approach that ultimately empowered the project beneficiaries to put their new skills to work in their daily lives.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, these kids (I call them kids lol but they aren't much younger than me) are working their butts off to make the world a better place, and it really just goes to show that if you’re passionate enough about something you will find the time to see it through.
From programs that help educate youth about finances before heading off to university, to educating and supporting young mothers with responsible budgeting, to programs that assist entrepreneurs with Autism, and even community driven events that use the less than desired food crops to educate and help assist the shortages experienced at the local food bank —there were no shortages of immense kindness and empathy with every program put before the judges.
As someone who did an education degree, as well as someone who still does presentations, and television on the regular, I know the work that goes into these presentations, as well as the restlessness that accompanies them. I fully appreciate that it is absolutely nerve-racking to walk into a room knowing full well you are being judged by some of the most amazing players in the biz.
Not tooting my own horn, I’m not talking about myself, but rather my fellow judges. I met some incredibly talented people during the training lunch, and I would be intimidated myself standing before them. So I have to hand it to the students because their presentations were not only entertaining, but they were immensely educational, and informative all at the same time, and this is not always easy to do!
Because I had to dash off for dance I wasn’t able to watch the final ceremony (or enjoy the ice cream sandwiches – which let’s be honest I was devastated about), but I'm so so happy to report that thanks to these initiatives, Enactus Saint Mary’s and Enactus Memorial University of Newfoundland were named 2017 Capital One Financial Education Challenge Regional Champions by Canada’s largest experiential learning platform, Enactus Canada, and program supporter Capital One Canada.
To catch the full press release click the link below:
Thanks so much Capital One for having me as part of your judging team! I had an absolute blast, and I’m just so proud of all the students’ hard work.
*This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada, however, all opinions and experiences are my own.