A mental health awareness program for youth in regional areas and a social enterprise combining permaculture and work opportunities were announced as winners of The Big Idea, at an awards event in Melbourne last night.
The Big Idea is a national university competition co-ordinated by The Big Issue. The competition aims to find new social enterprise business ideas that could deliver benefits to society in a similar way to existing social enterprises such as The Big Issue magazine.
More than 80 student teams from 10 universities competed in 2015, developing a business plan for a new social enterprise or social business. Five undergraduate and two postgraduate finalists presented their plans to a high-profile panel of judges including Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Australia Post CFO Janelle Hopkins and Cheryl Kernot, Director, Social Business, Centre for Social Impact.
The Vibe Collective (La Trobe University)
The Vibe Collective is an event management social enterprise building emotional resilience in young, regional Australians. By staging workshops and cultural events, the Collective aims to offer professional skills development opportunities, employment pathways and social connections for youth experiencing disadvantage.
Post Graduate Winner:
The Garden of Earthly Delights (CQ University)
This social enterprise uses a number of revenue streams and initiatives to run a community garden providing flexible training, education and employment for people facing disadvantage or experiencing homelessness.
Cheryl Kernot, who has been a judge for The Big Idea for the past four years, said: “I’ve always been impressed with the high quality of applicants for the competition but the big difference this year is that the winning projects had progressed past the concept stage and onto prototypes. Both winning teams had a strong articulation of their core social purpose.”
Jennifer Grace Bevis from winning undergraduate team The Vibe Collective said: “Winning this competition has validated that our idea is addressing a need in our community. Our teamwork, collaboration and ideas evolved throughout the competition process. It’s given us the confidence to be bold and courageous with our ideas and we hope that our win will empower other regional students to be bold with their ideas too.”
Tessa Benveniste from winning postgraduate team The Garden of Earthly Delights said:
“The Garden will offer students, professional workers and men and women struggling with homelessness the opportunity to work in garden beds of flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and crops to grow fresh produce to enrich their own lives and the community as a whole.”
The Big Issue’s National Manager Sally Hines said students learned practical skills from experienced social enterprise practitioners along the way.
“A key component of the competition is providing students with access to The Big Issue’s Senior Management Team to discuss and share their experiences of working in a social enterprise providing work opportunities for homeless Australians.”