media release

Students compete to be top changemakers

November 23, 2011

Shawn Smith, 778.385.5552;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;

Eight projects by Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business students – all social ventures aimed at creating positive change – are among 10 finalists chosen to compete in Ashoka Canada’s Be a Changemaker Challenge tonight (Nov. 23).

The contest, to be held at Robson Square in Vancouver (6-8 p.m.), is run by Ashoka together with local post-secondary institutions. Last month Ashoka ran a boot camp to train students how to build and fund sustainable ventures. The students are vying for $1,000 grants to help start up their businesses. Several will be awarded during the challenge.

Most are students from lecturer Shawn Smith’s Bus 492 class in social entrepreneurship and innovation, which teaches the fundamentals of creating sustainable businesses while coaching students through the process.

“More than just community engagement I think it is entirely critical to instil a sense of responsibility, and possibility, in our emerging leaders,” says Smith.

A few examples of SFU student projects:

  • Fusion Kitchen employs recent immigrant women with culinary skills to teach affordable, authentic, hands-on cooking classes, building social networks and job skills, providing income and offering a "real" experience for those interested in learning to cook authentic cultural cuisine.
  • Green Dirt provides a restaurant composting service that turns organic waste into rich fertilizer for local farms and gardens, for a fee comparable or cheaper than regular disposal, reducing garbage flow by recycling into the local ecosystem.
  • Aspire aims to provide employment opportunities for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by leveraging characteristics of competitive advantage in the software testing industry.

Smith’s students are encouraged to design a sustainable project at the start of class. Six are currently underway while three from the spring class continue.


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