The fledgling Berkeley chapter of Enactus, a national network of university students who use entrepreneurship to solve social problems, was the only chapter to win the network's regional championships and Rookie of the Year award on April 8.
The Berkeley Enactus chapter won the two honors at the Orange County Enactus Regional Competition. The chapter was one of 12 chapters from the region who will go on to compete in a national competition in Kansas City May 22 to May 23.
The Berkeley team consisted of Renee Yao, BS 14; Komal Ahmad, BA 13 (International Health and Development); and freshmen Alicia Li, Rick Ling and Cassie Zhou.
The regional competition required chapters to provide a presentation on their projects. The Berkeley chapter presented three projects underway:
- Evive Station: A kiosk that cleans reusable bottles and fills them with clean, filtered water in less than a minute. The chapter is working to bring a kiosk to Berkeley’s campus.
- SquashDrive: An after-school enrichment program that promotes academic, athletic, and personal growth through squash, health, and fitness instruction; tutoring; and community service.
- Feeding Forward: An online platform that streamlines connections between those with extra food and those in need of food.
"I’m really impressed with the whole team for pulling something together that literally started with four people and walking away with a couple of awards," says Haas Lecturer Todd Fitch, one of the chapter's advisers, who attended the competition. "It's pretty amazing in a year."
In addition to Fitch, Haas Lecturer Ben Mangan is also serving as an Enactus chapter adviser.
Yao was among four students who created the chapter in spring 2012, launching a process to choose members, attract sponsors (Clorox is the primary one), and develop projects. The other founders are economics students Akshay Dugar, BA 14; Andrew Liu, BA 15; and Sagar Vora, BA 14.
"We wanted to do something meaningful for the community and help the people around us," says Yao, explaining the impetus for forming the chapter. "We feel like we should let other people share the privileges and resources that we enjoy on campus and at Haas." That includes learning from some of the brightest academics in the world and recruited by world-changing companies in the Bay Area, she explains.
"Enactus utilizes these resources and opportunities to benefit the community around us, from engaging "at-risk" youths to leveraging technology to feed the homeless," Yao adds.
During its first semester, the founding team received 60 applications and went through three rounds of interviews to choose the 35 final members of the chapter from all over campus, including students majoring in English, chemical engineering, and global poverty.
"All the members are really dedicated. They joined us because they also wanted to make an impact," Yao says.