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OC business students take trio of first-place finishes at Enactus Western Canada Regionals

Okanagan College business students enjoyed a fruitful victory at the Enactus Western Canada Regionals, earning three first-place finishes and ensuring their ticket to the National Competition in May.

The Regional competition took place last week in a virtual format with teams from a multitude of post-secondary institutions submitting their student-created and student-run initiatives that seek to positively impact communities in a social, economic or environmental way.

The award-winning OC Enactus initiative FruitSnaps was entered – and won – in both the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge and the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, netting the presenting team of business students $3,000 for their project.

FruitSnaps was launched in 2018 and has since transformed into a social enterprise, supplying nutritional snacks to schools, foodbanks and Indigenous communities, as well as international destinations such as North Korea, Ukraine, Guatemala and Armenia.

With the help of the Gleaners in Vernon and Oliver, students and volunteers pick unsellable apples from local orchards that are converted to healthy dried apple chip snacks. This season the project has already donated more than 34,000 servings of shelf-stable snacks.

The presentation team was made up of OC business students Karsten Ensz, Maya Samaddar, Rachel Scuka, Danielle Walker, Aidan McLane and Elizabeth Hirschkorn; OC alumna and founder of the FruitSnaps project Abby Lagerquist also made an appearance. The team is coached by Okanagan College School of Business Professors Andrew Klingel, Mark Ziebarth and Dr. Kyleen Myrah.

“Our team is thrilled to receive these awards for the FruitSnaps program,” says Walker. “The prize money allows us to continue to fight climate change and food insecurity and there is no better feeling than knowing all of this hard work is providing children across B.C. with access to nutritious food.”

How does a tasty snack help aid the fight against climate control? This year alone, the FruitSnaps project has diverted 18,000 pounds of food waste, saved four million litres of water and prevented 36 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

“I’m so incredibly proud of these students – taking classes while working has been difficult for many during the pandemic, now add trying to run a volunteer project,” says OC Professor and FruitSnaps Faculty Advisor Andrew Klingel. “Despite these significant challenges, the team has not only continued to run the FruitSnaps enterprise but has expanded it and made it more financially sustainable.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the project pivoted and expanded its offerings, making five-litre boxes of fresh apple juice that was sold locally and online. The boxes quickly sold out and all proceeds went back into the program to help keep it sustainable.

“FruitSnaps isn’t just a school project for the classroom – this initiative has life-altering implications for this generation and the next,” says OC School of Business Dean William Gillett. “Our students and faculty and all of the volunteers who have helped bring this project to fruition over the past three years deserve all of the accolades. I am so pleased this project will be recognized on the Enactus Nationals stage and look forward to seeing how it continues to expand.”

Although Nationals isn’t until mid-May, Okanagan College has already secured at least one national victory, which was awarded during the Regional Competition for a brand-new challenge category, the Project Idea Pitch Challenge.

The Pitch Challenge team was made up of OC Enactus President Nicole Sapieha, Zackery Plaxton, Jessica Egyed, Sunidhi Sobit and Summer Szeman. The students were challenged to create an innovative project idea that would help entrepreneurs who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Their idea was pitched to judges alongside the top six teams in the country and ultimately took home the top prize, netting another $1,500 in competition earnings.

Enactus OC is a student-run organization that has a long history of distinguishing itself in nation-wide competitions for its contributions to entrepreneurship, financial literacy and environmental initiatives, enhancing the communities it serves.

More information about Enactus and the competition is available at enactus.ca.

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