It is a long way to go from a initial idea to a product that can enter the market and create revenue. To guide our teams, Enactus created the Accelerator Programme.
The Enactus Accelerator is a 6-month programme designed to support Enactus project teams in accelerating the execution of their projects - validation, creating and testing minimum viable product, and finding the product-market fit. Through this process, teams will also learn how to position their projects to ensure it is financially sustainable.
The teams should have a minimum viable product at the end of the programme which can be brought to market, which can generate revenue and create impact.
A team that has gone his way through our programme is the team of BRice.
BRice works with Phrao Children Home to assist in language learning and vocational skills training for the orphans of hill tribes in Phrao District, Chang Mai. By mapping their interests to suitable vocational training courses, BRice aims to provide employment options for them when they leave the orphanage at 17. Leveraging on technological devices and software, they aim to provide orphans aged 1-6 some basic knowledge on Thai and English before they enrol into the orphanage.
We were curious about the motivation of the team and interviewed Hean Shuen, Project Director of BRice, on how it all began and how they imagine the future of their project.
When did the idea for your project come into your mind for the first time?
For my team’s project, there will probably be 2 parts to our answer. Firstly, we were introduced to our mentor and our beneficiaries through our senior who worked with them the previous year. That was how we got to know our beneficiaries and our mentor.
Next, with regards to our idea of producing snacks, it was more after considering the most pressing problems our beneficiary is facing (lack of employment opportunities and the lack of a sustainable revenue stream to fund the orphanage) and their strengths and limitations. We recognised that they had limited skill sets and limited resources in the area. However, they had an abundance of agricultural produce, especially rice, honey and nuts, and we then decided to create a recipe which could tap on these readily available resources to create a marketable product.
Do you have experience in starting a project / taking the lead in a project?
How is this experience being so far?
I have definitely had prior experiences in starting a project and taking the lead, given the many opportunities available throughout my educational journey. However, this is my first time taking the lead in a social entrepreneurship project.
The experience has certainly been a fruitful and eventful one. Unlike other projects which were frequently limited in scope in some way or another (e.g. school-based restrictions, time limitations etc), this project was unique in how it allowed my team to define what we wanted at each step of the journey, and then to implement what we envisioned. This has its positive and negative aspects. While we appreciate the flexibility and independence accorded to us, there were also times when we felt a little lost because there are barely any precedents to follow.
Nevertheless, the experience has been more than worth it. We have learnt a lot and we have zero regrets.
What is your personal motivation for starting your project?
My personal motivation was mainly to try and use my skills to help others. There are many other community involvement projects where I can volunteer my time to build schools, or dig wells, or conduct English lessons for a month, but I knew that I wanted something more than just that. I wanted to challenge myself to help in the most sustainable way possible, and I sincerely believe that the most sustainable way is through social entrepreneurship.
What were your first thoughts when starting the project?
It was more excitement than anything else. It was refreshing to be accorded the trust and responsibility to start something meaningful and to see it through. While there was also some uncertainty and fear, it was still mainly excitement and a sense of optimism that we, a group of 4 guys armed with just ideas, can make a perceptible difference to the lives of our beneficiaries.
Where do you see your project in 2 years from now?
In 2 years, my team wants to ensure that production is Thailand is already set up and in operation, with a steady stream of clients, both B2B and B2C, in both Thailand and in Singapore. This also means that the logistical and import networks are already figured out, with all the licensing already obtained.
What were your expectations with regard to the accelerator program?
We honestly didn’t have much expectations regarding the accelerator program. We just wanted to approach it with an open mind, to try our best at each session to gain the most from it, and to apply the learnings to our project.