Renewing the University System With Social Entrepreneurship

About the Author: Estefanny Cáceres Aguirre- Peruvian, 21 years old. Economics student in Peru and Colombia. She has worked as an announcer and radio narrator. She was Campus Director in Hult Prize at the National University of Trujillo 2017-2018. Passionate about social transformation and sustainable development.

 

At the least expected time, a simple email can change your life. When I received a message confirming my role as Campus Director for Hult Prize – the most important social entrepreneurship platform in the world – I knew that a cloud of challenges and opportunities was going to cover the campus of the National University of Trujillo. With many doubts over and without any other tools other than social networks, I started this adventure to call upon more university students, contacting the incubator and other organizations of the university that would allow me to expand the field of influence.

The start was very complex. The ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in Trujillo is still to be developed, representing a big obstacle to submerge and captivate the students, officials, and media in the competition. Along the way, major barriers such as – financing problems, lack of experience in paperwork and diffusion problems were present – however, the good spirit, effort, energy, and friendly atmosphere that composed my team managed to turn us into the protagonists of the university.

I can say with ease that this process has definitely not been simple. There will always be people on the road claiming that you are wasting your time, that being a volunteer doesn’t get you anything, that you should only dedicate your time to studying, that you be careful not to neglect the duties of the university, etc. What they failed to understand was that at that time, my greatest duty to my university was being part of this worldwide movement and enlightening other students about it. That by volunteering I felt more rewarded that if I had won a brand new car because what I was doing mattered and made a difference. The words of a teacher still remain in my mind, “You contribute more to your college with Hult Prize than by simply sitting down in class to listen and doing your homework. I thank you for it”. In such times when the challenge arises, there are only two roads to be taken – give up or push forward as best as possible. We chose the second road. When you convince your team of the same thing you are convinced about and ignite that entrepreneurial spark inside the obstacles become superfluous. And that is only achieved with great effort and a lot of passion.

Of the two teams selected for the Hult Prize Regional Finals in Peru, only one was able to assume the expenses and travel to Mexico, giving the best of themselves abroad with the Peruvian flag and the coat of arms of our university reflected in each word of the presentation. The WaterBox Innovation team, made up of Civil Engineering students, returned to the city with a spirit full of motivation and energy for the future by optimizing the use of drinking water in homes. The public recognition was immediate, and to date, they have become an example for many young university students in our city. Proving that with determination and perseverance you can not only get very far – but make a change in people’s lives.

There is a before and after the Hult Prize in our lives.

As Campus Director, I learned three important things: 1. That no challenge is too great to be faced, 2. That the world can be changed with the creativity of young people, and 3. That social entrepreneurship can change the current economic system that has yet to manage to close the inequality gaps.

I know that we will continue to involve the National University of Trujillo and the other universities in my country, Peru, in this path of social entrepreneurship. That path in which we – the university students – can contribute to the solution of the most urgent problems of society. The birth of social entrepreneurship in my university has birthed an opportunity to restructure the current university model and instrumental scheme, to a more dynamic system where the knowledge learned in the classrooms can be linked to active social transformation. In the long term, I am positive we will achieve the development of better communities, fewer socio-economic problems, more passionate professionals and more citizens discovering what truly makes them happy.

I am sure that Hult Prize changed – and will continue to change – the lives of many Trujillo students, as well as the course of a city full of problems that thought had no way out except to wait for public policies that never arrive or that are too slow to show promising progress.

Let’s use our passions to change the world!

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