Penn Enactus Launches Recycling Initiative for Veterans

by Penn Enactus

2013-02-28 20.24.35A close-up of the first mosaic made of recycled tiles and mirrors by the Penn Enactus Green Initiative team. Courtesy of Penn Enactus

In the fall of 2012, our group of students from the University of Pennsylvania undertook the monumental challenge of starting Penn Enactus, the Penn chapter of the entrepreneurial organization Enactus. Our team reached out to various business leaders and faculty members  to gather a sizable Business Advisory Board, and also greatly benefited from the guidance of Professor Keith W. Wiegelt of the Wharton School, and Joanne Spigonardo, Associate Director of the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL).

One of Penn Enactus’ three current start-up projects is the Green Initiative, created with guidance and support from Wharton IGEL. With environmental sustainability and economic welfare in mind, the Green Initiative team takes an ambitious approach to a common social problem: unemployed military veterans. Combining the determination of the target group, and the use of recycled tiles, mirrors and pottery, we are teaching veterans in the Philadelphia area the skills they need to make, market, and sell mosaic artworks.

Because these mosaics will mostly be out of donated, recycled materials, the cost of raw materials is significantly reduced. Our Green Initiative team is not only providing these veterans new financial stability, we are also giving a new life to these discarded materials, which would otherwise end up in a landfill. This project epitomizes the mission of Penn Enactus: to tackle the social, economic, and environment problems that affect our community with innovative ideas.

2013-02-28-20.25.46-1-(dragged)The Penn Enactus Green Initiative team presents their mosaic for the 2013 Wharton IGEL Conference. Courtesy of Penn Enactus

On March 22nd, our Penn Enactus team competed against 50 other universities at the Enactus Regional Competition in Baltimore. The competition was a great experience, allowing us to compare our own projects against other universities’ and to think critically about improvements, marketability and scalability, and benefit from the judges’ constructive feedback. Conversing with other teams also helped us gained insights into how we could better establish a closer relationship with the people whom we are helping.

As a first year team, Penn Enactus won Rookie of the Year and 1st Runner Up. Overall, it was a truly rewarding and fun experience for us, and we would like to thank everybody who supported us through this exciting adventure.

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