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Prize-winning student entrepreneurs share their tips for social enterprise success at key conference

18th January 2018

A talented team of Northumbria University students took centre stage at a prestigious North East conference to discuss the creation of their entrepreneurial society and successful journey together.

The aspiring entrepreneurs, all Northumbria University students, were supported by the award-winning Newcastle Business School to found the Enactus Society at Northumbria.

Enactus is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. Members of Enactus create and run community development projects that put people’s own ingenuity and talents at the centre of improving their livelihoods.

The band of like-minded students only launched their Enactus Society at Northumbria a year ago, making it one of the newest UK University teams in existence. Members come from several different degree courses, bringing a range of skills to the group.

The team’s biggest projects to date are ‘Soup Stories’, a new food enterprise aiming to give refugees the confidence to start up their own businesses through selling soup, and ‘Sea Snail’, a project where Enactus are designing an product which can be used to turn salt water in clean, safe, drinking water, which they are hoping to implement in Ghana.

Both projects were so successful that the team won the highly coveted Rookie Champion title at the 2017 Enactus UK National Competition. As a direct result, they were invited to speak about their experiences at the Project Management Institute (PMI) UK’s annual conference at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

PMI UK is a professional project management membership organisation, founded in 1995 and boasts over 3,500 members. PMI works in partnership with Enactus encouraging more students to get involved, so Northumbria teams’ achievements were of great interest to the delegates.

The Northumbria Enactus Society were the first speakers, effectively opening the event and setting the tone. It was vital that the students could demonstrate the value of their involvement, and they did not disappoint.

David Bewick, chair of the North East committee of PMI UK said: "We have been holding the end of year conference in the North East for some years now and always try to bring interesting and entertaining speakers to the region. We also try to showcase something from the region and this year was no exception. 

“We were thrilled to have Northumbria Enactus team accept our invitation to open the event. They delivered a fantastic presentation around their project journey to a sold-out room of 300+ delegates. They certainly were not overshadowed by two experienced and globally recognised conference speakers."

The Northumbria Enactus team members speaking at the conference were Entrepreneurial Business Management student Jonny Forsey, Annika Essmann, final year business student, Charlie Dutton-Brearley, 3rd year Sociology student, Ben Thorn, Mechanical Engineering 3rd year undergraduate, Markus Haubenreich, studying a Masters in Engineering management, and Gemma Bacon, 2nd year Design for Industry student.

Kellie Forbes-Simpson, lecturer in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship on the Entrepreneurial Business Management course at Northumbria University and the team’s University Enactus Adviser said: “We were very proud to watch our award-winning Enactus team present their experiences at the conference.

“It was recognition of their amazing achievements and their speech was extremely well received by everyone. The Enactus society is a great example of the cross-faculty working we are proud to foster and encourage at Northumbria, with students working in very different areas connecting through a common interest and developing skills and experience that will be invaluable in their future careers.”

Jonny Forsey, President of Enactus at Northumbria, added: “We have been so lucky to have the enthusiastic and unwavering support of both the Student Union and Newcastle Business School at Northumbria, not only making the launch of an Enactus Society possible in the first place, but ensuring that we have all the assistance we could need to make our projects successful.”

If you would like to know more about the Enactus Society at Northumbria, you can visit their website at

Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School was recognised as Business School of the Year in 2015 and more recently, is the first North East Business School to win the Small Business Charter for services to SMEs. Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University is globally recognised for delivering some of the best business management education in the UK. You can learn more about available courses at 

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