For almost a decade the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School (GESS) educates bright and motivated students on the topic of social entrepreneurship. During the seven days of the GESS 2016, 35 students from all over the world took the opportunity to learn all about the nuances of creating sustainable social impact by working in diversified interdisciplinary teams. Take for instance Kenza from Morocco who is studying “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management” in China.
At GESS, students aim to advance small and innovative ideas into solutions that have the potential to create social impact worth a billion dollars. But that’s not enough! The GESS is also about creating real life experiences for the students they will never forget. So how do the students get this experience? GESS 2016 was all about “migration” - the number one challenge in Europe back then. Attending the GESS, you can feel the passion the students have for challenging status quo. During the course of week the GESS students were able to explore first-hand current issues in forced migration by meeting and discussing with a number of refugees. Building upon the valuable input provided by the refugees the students would devise new product ideas to support those who were forced to flee their home country.
“GESS was one of the most inspiring weeks in my life. One project brings people together in an attempt to change the world, that’s what makes it unique and powerful!“
After seven days of joy, tears and growing together, the GESS ends for the teams with pitching their product ideas to an audience of over 280 people. After an hour of passionate pitching by the novel entrepreneurs and intense grilling by the jury, “miHealth” was declared the overall winner of the competition. The team consisting of Brian from Canada, Sara from Guatemala, Anna from Italy, Farooq from Pakistan and Theresa from Germany aims to address the lack of health care support for refugees. The idea behind the mobile phone app is to enable refugees to connect with local doctors and health-care professionals, thus transcending sociocultural gaps and language barriers.
“To win GESS was amazing. It was a process and we learned a lot about each other, about ourselves, how it is to be in an entrepreneurial team!” (Brian Wong, winner of the GESS in Munich 2016)
But at the GESS it is not all about winning, because what matters most is that the students get an idea of what it means to drive societal change. Other incredible projects included a technical tool for refugees to make decisions and gain helpful information before going to their country of destination, called “ClairVoyant”. Imagine how such a tool could change the situation of refugees in Europe right now! Or an online magazine run by refugees, which aims at reducing prejudices and supporting integration through professional storytelling: “Humanize!” – the team behind the magazine wants to give those a voice who are not represented in the media.
So winning is not the most important thing, but it’s about changing society’s circumstances and giving the participants a mind-set to do that.
So what’s next? By applying their acquainted knowledge, memorable experiences and entrepreneurial spirit to their everyday life and future projects students will be able to foster societal change in their future work and everyday life. After leaving GESS, the participants take a unique international network with them. Although they live all around the globe, there are still many connections. The winning team of Munich just met last week in Berlin – they won this as a prize!