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Students from UEA recognised for unique social enterprise projects

Students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have won two national social enterprise awards for two projects aimed at helping the homeless build their skills to earn an income, and recycling food waste.

Enactus, which globally has teams from 1,600 universities in 36 countries and over 66,000 student members, aims to inspire students to develop their business skills and improve the world through social enterprise projects.

The UK Expo, held in London last week, was a chance for 40 teams from around the UK to showcase their projects and compete in two leagues – the Rookie League and the Development League. The Enactus UEA team was one of only four teams to make it through the regional stages of the Development League to compete at national level.

The 17 members of Enactus UEA, who are from both the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Social Sciences, showcased their projects, “Pawject” and “Budget Bites”.

“Pawject” aims to provide homeless people with the skills to make dog beds from recycled materials, both for their own dogs and to sell, generating an income and a better quality of life for the dogs in their care.

“Budget Bites” is focused on tackling food waste and food poverty. The project collects food surplus from Norwich Food Hub and UEA’s student union shop, upcycles the surplus and sells it to the public.

For example, using flour and baking ingredients to bake cookies and cakes or using loaves of bread to make sandwiches. So far, 30kg of food waste has been used and the initiative has made a profit of £258, which has been reinvested in the project.

The team won the overall “Most Improved Team” award and the “Building Sustainable Communities” awards for “Pawject”. The latter, from Ford Motor Company includes a grant of £5,000 which will be used to continue the development of the project.

“We are overjoyed with the awards we have received and are inspired to continue to drive our social enterprises forward to benefit the community,” said Elyza Rahman, President of Enactus UEA.

“This experience has renewed our enthusiasm and it was only possible by the support from UEA, in particular from the Science department.”