Sustainable development and teamwork at Enactus France

I was born and I grew-up in the gorgeous city of Paris, France, where my little sister and me were given tons of love by my parents. When I was a kid, I loved animals. I knew so many animals’ names - many more than I can recall today and one of my cousins still makes fun about it now. My dream was to become a veterinary for big wild animals like the ones living in the savannah.

I did not take this path.

After a classical studying path, I ended-up in a business school because my parents were doing business. I had never really been outside of my comfort zone then. Actually, I did not know what a comfort zone was until I had the opportunity to study abroad for a year. This is the point where it all changed. I went to study in New Jersey just next to New York City. Although I come from a Western country, it was quite the experience for me as it was the first time living by myself, within a new environment. This experience made me want to explore more places, to get to know more people and to know myself better.

After only 6 months spent in the US, I took the opportunity to schedule another year of studies abroad for one and a half year later, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan has been another year full of discoveries, travels, encounters and introspection.

During the last quarter of my stay, I wrote a case study as my final thesis, which was about the 2015 Hult Prize winning team’s success factors. I was already sensitive to sustainable development related issues and social entrepreneurship appeared to me as a way to achieve sustainable development. From my business perspective, I’m particularly attracted in putting money at the service of societal development.

Currently, I’m taking a gap year working at Enactus France as a program coordinator. Enactus is an international NGO that is “dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action”, and my role as a program coordinator is to support and guide the teams in their social entrepreneurship projects. Being surrounded by such inspiring, entrepreneurial and positive people makes me want to devote my career to social entrepreneurship, and more specifically into environmentprotection.

I’m currently starting to work on the students’ projects. Each project is unique because of the people constituting the team and the projects themselves. For instance some teams are highly motivated by the social dimension of their project whereas other teams are motivated by the experience itself. Some projects are new and some projects are several years-old.

It’s really interesting to coach a pool of such diverse talents and ideas because I need to adapt my communication, I need flexibility, I have to earn credibility and to be legitimate from the students’ point of view. Right now, most of my teams have to identify the needs of their beneficiaries, meaning that they have to go to the field and talk to the people they want to impact. Some of my other teams have already done it and they now need to think of a sustainable economic model. For the other projects which already have an economic model, they have to pass from theory to action. Finally, for those that are already active, they have to scale their project to have a larger impact.

While working at Enactus, I aim at inspiring students so they realize that yes, they can change the world! I aim at making them realize that anyone can change the world at one’s scale. Many people are taking initiative to make the world a better, more sustainable place. For the majority, each of these people is a tiny drop in the ocean. But if we all decide to use our tiny drop’s influence, then we turn into the strong ocean and it’s possible to change things!

That is the vision that I want to transmit to the students I’m coaching so that in both their personal and professional lives, they use their influence to change the world.

Next month we’re organizing a national seminary where we’re expecting more than 300 students, professors and professionals! We’ll be inspiring one another, reflecting on everybody’s projects, sharing ideas… It’s really what sustainable development is all about: cooperation. One can’t change the world on one’s own but one needs to do one’s fair share of the work.

My big dream for this project is that all the students who took part in the Enactus program realize that they are essential individuals to the society and that their actions influence us all.

Enactus is an international NGO present in 36 countries. We are always looking for reaching out to new countries and new universities. So if you know people from your network who are college students and want to be involved in social business projects, tell them about Enactus and how they can change the world at their scale!

- Simon Billy