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“A university is an ideal environment to warm people for social entrepreneurship,” says Nikolay Dentchev, holder of the VUB Chair for Social Entrepreneurship. “Professors are natural networkers, and many students are open to social projects.” Four of those projects will be presented this Monday, May 8th, during the launch of a new platform for social entrepreneurs. One of the projects is Elewa, an organisation founded by student entrepreneur Jente Rosseel to provide quality education for Kenian school children.
Five years ago Jente - then a senior Engineering student - left for Kenia on an internship with the Vlaamse Vereniging voor Ontwikkelingshulp en Technische Bijstand (VVOB). There he noticed that the education system did not adequately prepare students for the workplace. “The problem is that the entire education system is based on standardised testing. Can you formulate the answers well, you’ll be allowed into higher education, get a lower score and you can forget about continued learning. The result is that everyone simply memorises the answers, creating so-called parrots - students that cannot offer an eloquent answer in any other contexts.
To counter that behaviour, he founded Elewa together with Mike Kipkorir Bill, a Kenian education expert. The organisation studies how to improve the quality of education in collaboration with schools in Kenia. It furthermore provides training for teachers and is currently working hard to develop syllabuses for high school education. Elewa also created a system for e-learning that is adapted to the challenges of local infrastructure and can work without the immediate need for electricity.
The organisation exists since 2015 and has become a part of Startit@KBC, the platform for starting entrepreneurs. But the organisation can definitely benefit from additional exposure and visibility. “That is one of the reasons we are present at the launch of the new platform within the VUB Chair for Social Entrepreneurship. We also see it as a major opportunity, not just to raise funds - although we could definitely use them to hire more people for the counseling of schools - but also to gain knowledge and insights. It allows us to find people who want to contribute to our mission, be it as partners, as volunteers or researchers and so on.”
Tool for crowdfunding and crowdsourcing
“Our new platform for social entrepreneurs should be seen as a tool for both crowdfunding and crowdsourcing,” states Nikolay Dentchev. “That is perfectly in line with what the VUB Chair for Social Entrepreneurship envisions, to be a meeting place where social entrepreneurs and academics can develop sustainable business models together. The platform itself is an example of that collaboration, since aside from VUB also Close The Gap, Wolters Kluwer and Euroclear are at the cradle of the platform.”
During the launch next Monday, three more organisations will be presented with Elewa, i.e. Solidar IT, Bookademic and Ustart Tech. Each organisation will show a short video in which it can elaborate on its goals. “It is a very promising start,” Nikolay Dentchev goes on, hopeful about the future. “Our target is to bring together some 25 projects over the course of the coming year.” To be definitely continued…
Launch Social Entrepreneurship Platform
When: Monday May 8th, 15:00
Where: U-Residence, VUB Campus in Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels