An online calculator that helps companies reduce their carbon footprint. A cleaning business run entirely by the autistic community. A tutoring website that pays youths to do their homework. These are just a few of the captivating business ideas for a new, entrepreneurial, youth-oriented contest that is catching like wildfire.
Project Wildfire, a Toronto-area competition for 19 to 29-year-old entrepreneurs, whittled down many potential applicants to 10 finalists this weekend. The participants had created ideas — ones that are profit-generating but with a social mandate — and marketed their proposal through a 90-second video clip, while harnessing their concept through social media to garner votes from the public. The finalists, chosen by a combination of public reaction and the Project Wildfire jury, now have six weeks to work with an experienced team of mentors to construct a solid business plan.
Project director Mike Brcic, himself an entrepreneur as the founder/executive director of Bikes Without Borders, believes in the contest as an illuminating package that helps combine business and charity. “We’ve seen the world of business as something that exists to make money and, for the most part, doesn’t do a lot of good in the world. It often does a lot of harm,” he said at the press conference June 6 at the Centre for Social Innovation. “And I do know that it’s possible to create a lot of good in the world and make money… The reason [Project Wildfire is] youth focused is because I believe a lot of [youths] are full of energy and passion and great ideas.”
On August 4, the entrepreneurs will pitch their completed proposal to the Project Wildfire jury. One group will walk off with a $25,000 grant to fund their idea, while four others will take a $2,500 consolation fund; regardless, all five recipients will get a full year of mentorship to help refine their business idea.
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.