University of Manchester's first virtual Enterprise School to help accelerate social enterprise revolution

The University of Manchester’s first virtual Enterprise School has named the winner of its newly launched entrepreneurship programme. Twenty curious and enthusiastic students enrolled on the entrepreneurship programme that took place throughout July. University of Manchester students from all around the world were able to participate in this co-curricular activity that introduced the concept of enterprise and entrepreneurship whilst addressing urgent social issues in Manchester.

Woking in teams, students identified opportunities, spoke to key stakeholders, and designed a business plan before pitching their solutions to a panel of judges on the final day. They were guided by tutors from the Masood Enterprise Centre at the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) and were mentored by local social enterprise experts and company founders such as Emma Stanmore, founder of Keep On Keep Up; Haleh Moravej, founder of MetMunch; Nicola Dickins, Trustech; and Lisa McMullen, The Women’s Organisation. The winning team pitched their idea of using AI chat bots to relieve loneliness having discovered that 96% of students had suffered some form of this whilst at university.

Other groups suggested a reward scheme for removing plastic waste from the city’s waterways, having found that plastic is more than half of the polluting material; a vegan food truck with an eco-friendly supply chain; a platform for improving the diet and fitness of South Asian women; and skills and networking workshops for the 63,000 young people who live in deprived areas of Greater Manchester. Dr Robert Phillips, Senior Lecturer at the Masood Enterprise Centre at AMBS and Director of the Enterprise School activity said: “With Mayor Andy Burnham declaring he wants a social enterprise revolution to match that of Manchester’s Industrial Revolution, the University is contributing to this agenda by producing graduates who are not only aware of social issues, but are capable of putting their creative solutions into action. “COVID-19 has only magnified existing social problems, which has proved a timely opportunity to upskill our highly motivated students who are interested in social enterprise to improve the community and environment of the Greater Manchester area.”

The Enterprise School also hosted multiple leading social entrepreneurs based within Greater Manchester, who shared their insights into the sector during a speaker panel chaired by Liz Allen, Chair of 42nd Street and board member of Social Enterprise UK. Student participant Mira Moore, who was part of the winning team, commented: “The whole programme was a fantastic, empowering and motivating experience, teaching us skills for life. The support was inclusive, and tireless.

It was great to meet other students with different academic backgrounds, combining our knowledge and interests to create something so meaningful and promising. All the social entrepreneurs who gave their important time to speak with us were incredibly encouraging and inspirational; their invaluable input has set us on value-driven directions anew. She added: “I would highly recommend this programme to any driven student who wants to learn how to make a real impact, be challenged, learn more about the world of enterprise and take that first step to actualise their dream!”

The Enterprise School is aimed at all students at The University of Manchester with an interest and desire to learn more about enterprise whilst developing their skill-set.

The programme introduces the concept of entrepreneurship, and what it takes to start a business.

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