Enterprise to Empower Socializes Student Innovation

What began as a student-organized, citywide conference last fall has since become one of Tech’s newest student organizations, and the group hopes to inspire fellow Tech students to use their skills and talents to solve social problems.

Professor Muhammad Yunus
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Professor Muhammad Yunus, 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing the concept of microcredit and microfinance.

Enterprise to Empower (En2Em) seeks to educate, enable and engage students in social entrepreneurship, no matter what corner of campus they find themselves immersed in study. 

“There’s a need not only for students to think more innovatively and entrepreneurially, but also to think more about the social impact they can make,” said Melissa McCoy, founder and president of En2Em and a student in chemical and biomolecular engineering. After working abroad during the spring of 2010 in Chile for SQM, a metallic mining company, McCoy found herself inspired to educate and engage fellow students in social entrepreneurship. En2Em offers education, career development and venture incubation services focused on social innovation.

“Students don’t think entrepreneurially or socially because they don’t see exit strategies from college in these realms,” McCoy said. She hopes to bring a wider understanding of social entrepreneurship to all of Tech; last year, En2Em hosted the Institute’s first Social Enterprise Career Fair, bringing organizations to campus such as Teach for America, The Carter Center and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

“While our organization has a social focus, we want to help all entrepreneurially minded students and perhaps introduce them to the idea of applying their creations to developing markets or in a socially-oriented way.” En2Em works with organizers from the InVenture Prize, Business Plan Competition and Ideas 2 SERVE to provide support to students already interested in these events. “We want to push students to think longer term with their ventures — rather than it being a nice project to put on their resume, we want them to think they can change the world with this.”

En2Em will support the University System of Georgia’s Social Business and Microcredit Forum being held at the Ferst Center on Oct. 17. Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus, considered to be the father of microcredit, will deliver a keynote address, and En2Em will assist in judging a student social business plan competition. Applications for the competition will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 14, with more details available online; winners will have the chance to dine with Yunus and competition judges.

Throughout the year, En2Em will host monthly Coffee and Conversation events, organize dinners with social entrepreneurs and lead case study projects. In the spring, the group plans to host a second Social Enterprise Career Fair and TEDxGT.

Students interested in learning more should visit en2em.org, where they can join a project, receive counsel on venture incubation or find out about upcoming events.