As the number of refugees and immigrants in Ireland grows, questions about integration continue to be raised. What if the solution lies with a group of Enactus students?

Every year, third-level students around Ireland sign up to Enactus – a global social enterprise force – in the hopes of empowering people and making social change. That change takes the form of social enterprises designed to make an impact on communities throughout Ireland and around the world.

Eva Kane, one of the members of the 2018-2019 cohort’s YUP team (made up of students from IADT, Dún Laoghaire’s Institute of Art, Design and Technology), gave us some insight into the project she, Joseph Brennan, Alice Dooley, Aoife Kidney and Cronan Ryan have created.

Here, she speaks to Kirsty Tobin in an interview conducted in collaboration with Enactus.

Can you tell us about your project?

YUP teaches entrepreneurship skills to young people between the ages of 11 and 16 from immigrant and refugee communities.

What social need does your project address?

This project was started by a student from Uganda who saw a need to introduce the programme to boost confidence and encourage integration among the young people in her community. The main social needs addressed are education, equal opportunities and integration.

What first stirred your interest in this area?

What inspired me to get involved in the project was the passion founding member Marie has for the project.

What prompted you or inspired you to get involved with Enactus?

I saw the amazing work other Enactus projects were doing and decided I wanted to be a part of it. I believe that if you have the skills or abilities to help improve the world in some way, then you definitely should.

What have you learned about social enterprise and community-focused entrepreneurship since starting this project?

We’ve learned that there are many people who are willing to share their advice and time in order to help us achieve our goals when it’s for a good cause. It creates a real sense of community.

Why do you think social enterprise matters?

Social enterprise is important as it gives people access to support and services that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It allows people with access to resources to help in ways that not everyone can.

Do you think you’ll work to develop social enterprises after graduation, or even continue to grow your Enactus project?

Yes, I would love to help grow this project after graduation and will be on hand to support the incoming team. I’d also like to start some new social enterprise projects.

What advice would you give to students considering developing an Enactus project in the future?

My advice to others is to connect with the people who were giving your team support last year and to just go for it wholeheartedly. You have nothing to lose with social enterprise and you never know what your project might end up turning into. If you can help even just one person, then you’ve made a difference.

Interested in reading more about the state of Ireland’s community development sector? Check out our latest issue.