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Enactus Lakehead team qualifies for nationals

The Enactus Lakehead team earned runner-up honours in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge last week in Mississauga.
Enactus Lakehead 2024 Award
The Enactus Lakehead team earned runner-up honours in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge last week in Mississauga.

THUNDER BAY – A group of Lakehead University students will soon be competing on the national stage.

The school’s Enactus team has qualified for May’s national exposition in Toronto after earning runner-up honours in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge last week in Mississauga.

This marks the first time that an Enactus Lakehead team has earned the award at a Central regional event, which consists of schools in Ontario and Quebec, since 2019.

“We always hope to do well, but this was a real pleasant surprise for us,” said Enactus Lakehead president and fourth-year business student Brandon Rehfuhs.

“We had competed in the last few regional events, but we didn’t come up with anything.”

Enactus is an entrepreneurship network where students want to create a real impact and a societal good by helping either the community, nature, or just creating a sustainable good for anyone that’s involved.

Lakehead’s project was called Brain Blitz, which focuses on educating high school and university students on the basics of entrepreneurship.

One of the inspirations for Brain Blitz came from a 2022 survey by the Northern Policy Institute that asked employers around Thunder Bay what skills employees are lacking.

Several soft skills were near the top of the list, which included communication, problem solving, analytics, customer service and time management.

“Brain Blitz is a combination of two different aspects,” Rehfuhs said.

“We have a speaker series where different entrepreneurs come to the campus and talk about what they've done or how they got started up. We’ve also had several soft skills workshops where we are teaching the soft skills that were mentioned in the Northern Policy Institute report.”

In addition to those events, Enactus Lakehead also put together an escape room, which gave students a time-limited critical thinking activity and helped increase their mental health while raising funds for the school’s food resource centre.

They also hosted DevFest 2023, an event designed to bridge the gap between business strategy and technological innovation with experimental learning, and ThunderSprint, which challenged students to develop social enterprise solutions for challenges within Northwestern Ontario.

The Enactus team brought what they had learned since starting the project in June 2023 to the regional event in Mississauga, where they took part in a variety of presentations.

“I think the fact that we focused our impact on creating a difference in Northwestern Ontario stood out to the judges,” Rehfuhs said.

“There were a lot of different teams that have an area with a large amount of people. Up here we don’t have as many people but we were able to make more of an impression with our project.”

Enactus Lakehead is now preparing to showcase the Brain Blitz project at the national exposition in Toronto in May.

The winners from that event advance to the Enactus World Cup, which is being held in Kazakhstan in October.

“Our presentation in Toronto will be 12 minutes instead of five minutes at regionals, so we’re preparing for that,” Rehfuhs said.

“There will also be a different focus for each of the schools at the nationals. At the regionals, it’s about how are you teaching people about business and helping people start up different businesses. At the nationals, the presentations can be about anything -- from the type of impact you’ve had to the focus of the project.”

Further information on Enactus Lakehead can be found on their website.

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