Business students from Okanagan College bagged the top prize at the Enactus Western Regionals last February in Calgary. And their project couldn’t have been more fitting for something out of the Okanagan. Every year, many apples from the Okanagan go to waste. But for the business students from Okanagan College, they didn’t see it as waste. They saw an opportunity. And they hope their story inspires other students, both local and international, to take a chance on their ideas. Because they might just change the world.
Instead of letting the apples go to waste, the business students decided it was better to repurpose them. So, in 2018, the business students planned their big project. With the partnership with the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society facility, FruitSnaps came to be. The apples were dehydrated and then became a healthy snack for kids in the local schools. And it was a hit. Project manager and second-year student, Karsten Ensz said, “kids absolutely love FruitSnaps and some schools have been going through more than 50 pounds every two weeks. The goal right now is to get FruitSnaps into more schools and finding ways to make the project self-sustainable.”
With the success of FruitSnaps, business students Abigail Underwood, Sheryl MacIntosh, Marin Carruthers and Karsten Ensz head to Enactus. Moreover, they only had a limited amount of time to present FruitSnaps to a panel of judges. They had five minutes to test, two minutes to set up, and five minutes to present their projects and the future of the project. Despite the pressure of the event, it was all worth it. The business students bagged the top prize in the Scotiabank Climate Change Challenge. Additionally, there’s another reason to celebrate. Another team from the Okanagan region bagged second place in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge. Their project recycled old tech instead of letting it go to a landfill. Moreover, student Emily Pilon remarked, “it’s a fabulous experience to develop teamwork, presentation, and critical thinking skills… I could not be more thankful for what I’ve gained in skills, leadership opportunities, and friendships.”
In less than two years, the business students from Okanagan College made a lasting impact. Moreover, it stemmed from an idea to being available to more than 4,000 kids in the community. Ensz notes, “We focused on how scalable FruitSnaps is and the impact it has on our community. A lot of people don’t realize that food insecurity is occurring in our community and that a lot of kids go to school without breakfast.”
So, what’s next for them? The business students will be refining their pitches for the road ahead. Because they’ll be heading to the Enactus Nationals in Toronto this coming May. Furthermore, there will be teams from all over the country this time. Winners will represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup after. Whatever the result, the Dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillett, couldn’t be prouder of the students and the impact they made. “It’s meaningful to see a project take off and make an impact in such an immediate way. The benefit of Enactus is that it affords students the chance to implement their learning in the real-world arena, hone skills and develop connections. In the case of FruitSnaps, it’s students finding a solution to a very real issue in our region.”
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