Seeking solutions to social ills

Kathleen Kemp and Ajmal Sataar ready to leave for Iqaluit aboard a First Air plane.

Kathleen Kemp and Ajmal Sataar took a custom-designed entrepreneurship program to Iqaluit.

Where others look away from tough social problems, former Telfer School of Management students Kathleen Kemp and Ajmal Sataar went great distances to seek solutions. Enactus uOttawa, a group of around 100 volunteer student entrepreneurs, took them to Iqaluit, Nunavut on a fact-finding mission to see how their enterprising skills could be used to tackle social, economic and environmental challenges.

“We are a very passionate, dedicated group of students who seek problems and try to find sustainable solutions,” says Kemp, former Enactus president. “The people of Iqaluit were so welcoming. It was interesting to see the cultural differences in how they live and handle business and economic development.”

Sataar, former Enactus vice-president of development, says a talk by Inuit throat singer Becky Qilavvaq opened his eyes about their proud culture. She spoke of how her ancestors had lived in the climate for thousands of years with no technology. He learned that any business model would have to be inclusive and sustainable.

Kemp and Sataar were joined by Enactus members Corey Ellis and Alida Burke on a trip back to Iqaluit in February to present a customized three-day entrepreneurial skills program.

“We didn’t go with preconceived ideas. We waited for them to come up with solutions for their community in ways that work for them,” says Sataar.

Enactus has several other projects on the go, including Project Fly, which teaches core business skills to at-risk youth, the Eco-Equitable women’s fashion boutique, and a cigarette-butt collection and recycling service that employs two people with mental illness to clean up Ottawa’s streets.

Both Kemp and Sataar have now graduated but they plan to continue mentoring new Enactus uOttawa recruits. Enactus volunteers plan further trips to Nunavut as its entrepreneur training program will now be used at Nunavut Arctic College and most high schools across the territory.

And with Enactus uOttawa recently being named National Champion by Enactus Canada, more global travel is on the horizon: Its student entrepreneurs will represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup competition in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2015.

 

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