Students pitch business ideas for social benefit

p2499c St Ps Colour Class 660

Above: Colour Class team, from left, Sophia Giagoudakis, Bobby Zeng, Thea Wischusen, Matt Townsend, Maya Jakubiszyn, and Bryce Auld.  

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

A tour bus by day would turn into a homeless shelter at night: Homebus would fold the seats down for beds, and provide meals and services with the funds earned during the day.

 

A restaurant selling its own non-alcoholic beverages that “taste just like alcohol” would make for “family-friendly” dining – there would be no drunks roaming around and its customers wouldn’t “feel bad in the morning”.

 

A fun and cheery classroom on wheels, called Colour Class, doubling as a tourism venture on weekends and during school holidays to generate revenue, would deliver extra-curricular programs in remote schools currently missing out. This service would also be an answer to the difficulty of finding teachers willing to living in remote communities.

 

p2499c St Ps Adam 250These were some of the enterprise ideas developed by Year Eight students taking part in challenge program at St Philip’s College last week. Alice Springs News Online dropped in during the students’ pitches of their business plans to a panel of judges. They had to outline the concept, its target market, branding and promotion strategies, and how they intended to raise finance.

 

All this had been developed in the preceding three days under the guidance of business teacher Susan McCowan and visiting facilitator come motivational speaker, Adam Mostogl (left). Tasmanian-based, he runs an education enterprise, illuminate, which is sponsored by Australia Post and the peak body for Australian and NZ accountants, Chartered Accountants.

 

It was no accident that all the business ideas had a social impact focus. This was set in partnership with illuminate’s sponsors.

 

Chartered Accountants had realised that the dry matter of financials alone was not drawing new recruits into their profession. They saw that “if you run a good business and do good things in the community, you can make some money”, said Mr Mostogl. So they made the tagline for their recruitment program, “Become a difference maker”, and partnered with illuminate because they could see “we get more people excited in accounting”.

 

Australia Post’s Regional Pitchfest program, which covered most of the costs for Mr Mostogl’s visit to St Philip’s, is focussed on supporting rural and regional entrepreneurs across Australia.

 

Regional communities like Alice Springs are a good place to start a business, Mr Mostogl told the students. “They work because you know who’s in town, it’s not hard to talk to the right people and make things happen … It wouldn’t be hard to go to council and get their support, ask the Mayor to come on board and be part of something.”

 

He also said it was important for the students to think about not being reliant on government funding for the social enterprise ideas: “That’s a big problem we have with all the social spaces … services are having funds cut, but if you can create a business model behind it, you can do this.”

 

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Above: Employpad team from left, Vismaya Damodaran, Haylee Mason, Reece Hanton, Zoe McKinnon, Augustine Gapinski and Liza Davison. 

 

For Ms McCowan (below left) working with Year Eight students was similarly future-focussed. The college doesn’t offer business studies until the senior years but she hopes this program will instil the passion to guide the students’ later subject choices.

 

The students had clearly enjoyed themselves while doing some serious thinking about challenges in the community.

 

SEA, standing for Social Equality Australia, wanted to tackle gender, sexuality and race inequality in the school and workplace, in a service something like illuminate’s, travelling around the country, offering workshops under the banner “Dive into a better tomorrow with SEA”.

 

Why would people want that product, they were asked, and they had an answer: it would get classmates and workmates connecting better with one another and so they would get more work done because they were in a happier environment.

 

p2499c St Ps Susan McCowan 250Vio Dome wanted to create an online helpline for victims of domestic violence, which is “growing like a plague” in Australia, and to be able to respond with immediate on-the-ground help. Starting locally and growing from there, they hoped to raise their start-up capital from sponsors like White Ribbon (most of the others were relying on  a bank loan to get going).

 

A clothing line, labelled Next Gen, would generate income while imparting job and life skills to help homeless people “kickstart new lives”. Would people suffering homelessness be ready for this? they were asked. They’d thought about this: three-hour shifts would help them get used to being in a work environment, and would follow after they’d been received a meal and chance to shower.

 

Employpad would offer job advice, mentoring and experience on a “time trial” to the unemployed as part of running a cafe: “If you want to see the change, be the change” was their motto.

 

Promotion on Instagram featured heavily in the students’  marketing strategies.

 

Competition is part and parcel of running an enterprise and so the pitches were judged and prizes allocated. Colour Class won “Overall Best Business & Best Pitch Deck”.

 

 

 

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