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Business ideas for the common good

What do sustainable coffee mugs and gender equality have in common? Both are areas for forward-looking start-up ideas that are being developed by the Enactus student group.

Three people at a desk
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In search of suitable materials: Saria Jedamski, Bo Schmid-Bonde (centre) and Salim Dinzad, members of the Kiel university group Enactus, test containers made from coffee production residues and algae mixtures; not in the photo team member Chinh Nguyen.

"Our goal is to implement clever business ideas to solve social, sustainable and ecological problems," explained Anton Kruse of the Board of the Enactus Kiel association. This orientation is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The association belongs to the international student entrepreneurship initiative Enactus. The Kiel branch has been active at Kiel University for about a year, and now has somewhere in the region of twenty-two members. "We are becoming more and more popular," Anton Kruse, who is studying Quantitative Finance, was delighted to report. Various departments are represented, with business and economics predominating.

Salim Dinzad is studying socio-economics. He and three kindred spirits are working on alternative materials. The team intends to produce coffee mugs and other vessels as well as bottle caps from sustainable materials. He was able to acquire the company Schierbecker Alternative Rohstoffe from Felde as a partner. The students experiment with residues from coffee roasting and paper production as well as algae mixtures.

The team, which is still in its infancy with the project, would like to present its idea at, for instance, an Enactus pitching event. They are hoping for financial support for the further course of action. What Dinzad (24) particularly likes about the initiative is that "The association is a good balance to my degree, which is very heavy on the theory." His dream: "I would like to start a company that has a positive impact on our environment and earn a living from it."

Jan-Philipp Leistenschneider and his team have already succeeded in initiating a start-up. Together with Enactus Cologne, the Kiel group has launched an iced tea with organic honey on the market and supports bee protection projects with the proceeds.

Geography student Eileen Hauschildt and her two fellow campaigners are not quite that far yet with their project on gender equality. Their plan is to provide retailers with a platform for products that are deliberately gender-neutral or are advertised accordingly for a fee. "Customers who care about gender quality can benefit from this," explained the 21-year-old. As examples, she lists children's toys that are presented without gender clichés; nail polish that manufacturers advertise simply with hands rather than female models, and children's books that dispense with entrenched role patterns. "We want to conduct a survey on gender equality for a market analysis," Eileen Hauschildt is planning their next step.

But not all the members of Enactus Kiel work directly on projects. For instance, students can get involved in the areas of marketing, finance and law or personnel matters and events. The task of the "Relations" department is to create sponsoring concepts and attract partners. The groups meet in the incubator of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (ZfE) at the CAU, privately or online. "This also creates contacts beyond the work," explained Anton Kruse.

The association is not only in contact with business representatives, but also with lecturers at the CAU. His direct contact Katharina Knapp works at the Chair of Start-up and Innovation Management. She advises the team and provides suggestions and feedback in workshops. Her view is that "Every student should acquire entrepreneurial skills and try them out wherever possible." She herself was active as a student in SIFE, the predecessor organisation of Enactus. "What makes the project ideas so special is that they focus on the well-being of society," emphasised Katharina Knapp.

Author: Annette Göder

Enactus

The name of the association Enactus is made up of the first letters of the words "entrepreneurial", "action" and "us", and alludes to the entrepreneurial spirit, the will to become active, and the community. The organisation was founded in the USA in 1975. There is an international umbrella organisation and a German network with 35 university locations. Enactus Kiel is an official university group at Kiel University.

www.enactus.de/kiel-home