Niagara College Business students team up to help local entrepreneurs become more sustainable

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Niagara College press release – As Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, students from Niagara College’s School of Business and Management are gearing up to spend the next five days helping local business owners become more sustainable.

More than 130 students from various programs will participate in the inaugural NCSustainability Hackathon, which runs until Friday, Nov. 20. Twenty-six teams of students will pore over case studies from five entrepreneurial ventures – based in Niagara and the GTA – in an effort to discover sustainable business solutions that create shared value and focus on the three P’s of sustainability: people, planet and profit in a COVID-19 era

The teams, made up of second- and third-year students, have until November 20 to collaborate virtually on ideas and submit their proposals to a judging panel made up of College business faculty. Their analysis of their assigned businesses will be reviewed and two winners will be chosen to present their ideas to the entrepreneurs at a later date.

“Students need to come up with ideas of how, in a time COVID, these organizations can reach out sustainably and improve their actions in the marketplace to strengthen their business,” said Cammie Jaquays, professor of Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, and NC Sustainability Hackathon co-organizer. “The hackathon is about looking at where we are in the world right now, the challenges entrepreneurs face, and what sustainable solutions can be found to survive – and thrive.”

The NC Sustainability Hackathon is an experiential learning initiative inspired by the $5 Challenge held in March 2020 when teams of students were given $5 in seed money and five days to grow it as much as possible in a financial or social venture. The goal of the hackathon, which is an intensive, collaborative academic event, is to nurture entrepreneurship among students and take their skills and know-how into the community.

“Students get experiential learning, confidence, teamwork, applications of entrepreneurship, and the application of what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Jaquays.

The businesses involved in the NC Sustainability Hackathon include a brewery, bakery, food artisan, cannabis store, and pet fostering not-for-profit that helps vulnerable Niagarans. The businesses were chosen as case studies for the competition because of their reputations for making community and social responsibility priorities in their business plans.

Winners of the hackathon will be announced online at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

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