On March 22nd, Social Entrepreneurship (SocEnt), an elective of Leadership Education and Development (LEAD), hosted its annual Networking Fair. At this fair, local organizations were invited to share their mission and explain how they use social entrepreneurship to grow their businesses. Student entrepreneurs were also invited this year to give the sophomores a sneak peek into understanding how even people their age can create change. As SocEnt Co-Chairs, we wanted to give some insight into the event!
We had four organizations come to IN2 (the Center for Innovation and Inquiry) where they set up booths to show the work they have done. The Alive Center, APS STEM Academy, Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, and Circa Pintig joined us for an evening. We also had three student-run businesses: Dhruv Patel representing Anchor, Shria Halkoda and Rashmi Alawani representing Tobelli, and Elizabeth Nyamwange representing Etana.
To briefly explain each organization’s mission, the Alive Center, represented by Melissa Anderson, offers free after-school drop-in hours, tutoring, mentoring, workshops, and teen programs in various practices that support physical and emotional well-being and inspire personal growth and purpose. APS STEM Academy, represented by student interns Bhavyaa Chauhan and Rebecca Liu with Andy and Nicole from the Academy, provides free and low-cost STEM opportunities for vulnerable and underserved students in the area. The Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, represented by Shannon Cameron, helps to end local hunger by ensuring everyone has fresh and nourishing food. Circa Pintig, represented by Ginger Leopoldo, is a nonprofit organization that educates, mobilizes, and organizes community members, primarily immigrants and their families, through community arts-based and community-centered intergenerational programs and services. Lastly, Sidetime, represented by Robert M. Chang, is a modern software platform focused on enabling access to mentoring, experience, and expertise, with the goal of strengthening communities, access, and opportunities for underrepresented groups and expanding charitable giving.
All of the student entrepreneurs are successful in pitch competitions from creating their own startups. Dhruv created Anchor, an app that allows people with tremors to engage in tremor therapy digitally, an alternative to professional therapy. Shria and Rashmi created a biodegradable food packaging that repurposes the cellulose found in tobacco and has many notable prizes, such as being named the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge Winner. Lastly, Elizabeth created a cost-efficient device that enables women in low-infrastructure environments to create unique biometric IDs using blockchain technology. She also has been recognized globally and won awards, including the HP’s Girls Save the World Challenge award.
For the Networking Fair, we wanted the students to be able to interact with everyone directly and also have time to ask questions. Thus, we split the time. Half was spent in a science fair setup where all organizations set up booths and the students walked around and directly talked to the businesses. They also got to see the objects brought by the organizations such as circuits children had made in the APS Academy, or take fun prizes like tote bags from Circa Pintig. Then, we transitioned to a panel Q&A where all of the businesses sat on the IN2 stage and students asked questions to the entire group, concluding the Networking Fair.