Students create ventures to help solve global problems on a unique course
The course culminates in a SDG gala on the 8th of December. Welcome to participate!
Take part in the event online through this link.
“The best way to learn entrepreneurship is to work practically with it. Being responsible for the course enables us to see the course and the learning from a student perspective,” state Vicent Forsman, Victor Lindahl and Ronny Eriksson, all three students at Hanken and the minds behind the course together with Daniil Pokidko, affiliated researcher in Entrepreneurship, Management and Organisation at Hanken.
Throughout the course, students go through an experiential learning circle starting from reflection on personal motivations towards solving the critical development goals that the UN has defined, followed by team formation and ideation about possible solutions to help tackling these problems, research on idea validation, planning and modeling as well as implementation of these into reality.
Students worked on reflection, team formation and ideation during a full-day hackathon that was arranged on a Saturday in the beginning of the course. Every week during the course, students receive feedback on their projects from external guest speakers and mentors.
“In total, 6 masterclass guest speakers and 40 external mentors are involved in the course. For instance, yesterday, students received comments on their venture ideas from eight different experts.”
The organizers suggest that courses like this – ideated, planned and implemented by students – could be a valuable addition to programs’ curricula in all universities both in Finland and abroad.
Inspiration from Hanken’s entrepreneurship ecosystem
Eriksson, Forsman and Lindahl have themselves received support to run various projects and companies – both non-profit organizations and for-profit companies – at Hanken Business Lab and Hanken Entrepreneurship Society.
Another important source of inspiration for the course has been the global platform Ambitious.Africa, which all three initiators of the course founded. Ambitious.Africa enables youth in Africa and the Nordics to initiate and scale different types of social impact projects, by providing access to mentors, corporate collaborators, funding and global exposure, to name a few.
“AmbitiousAfrica has been a great source of inspiration for us, especially when it comes to bringing together actors from three areas: education, entrepreneurship and entertainment”, tells Forsman, who together with Eriksson and Lindahl built non-profit business incubators in Rwanda, which scaled youth-led ag-tech startups as part of their international internship program.
New venture creation as a way to help solving global sustainability problems
For Niels Schwenne, who is an exchange student from Germany and one of the participants on the course, Sustainable Venture Creation is precisely a course he had dreamed of.
“When I first read about it, I only paid attention to the business part, but during the course I have discovered that sustainability themes are also very interesting.”
Onni Larri, who is a student at Hanken, has on the contrary always wanted to work with sustainability themes. His team has planned a company that encourages people to work for the climate. Schwenne, again, is part of a group that has sought to find solutions to the problem of pollution in cities by designing a company that specializes in plantings on roofs.
The positive feedback from the students about the course does not surprise the course initiators.
“The students themselves have been able to influence how the course is shaped. Entrepreneurship today is something that can be compared to the hip-hop culture in the USA in the 1970s and 80s: many young people want to be entrepreneurs and there are many superstars in this field that they can look up to”, says Eriksson.
“Combined with the motivation for sustainable development, this might become a powerful way to tackle global sustainability challenges”, add Forsman and Lindahl.
The course will culminate in a SDG evening organized in the banquet hall at Hanken. During the event, the eight student teams will be pitching their SDG ventures in front of a prominent jury. During the evening there will also be a keynote by Peter Vesterbacka and a panel discussion with young founders that have started successful SDG ventures during their studies. After the program, a mingle will be organised in the Aula of Hanken with food, drinks and live jazz.