Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont. has won a national contest for their work in a southern African country after training 30,000 farmers to become more efficient and successful.
In addition, the project also included starting up a peanut butter company, building infrastructure for alternative energy, increasing the amount of clean water in the region and building a clinic.
One Seed Project
The project, called ‘One Seed,’ earned students the title of Enactus Canada National Champions — a competition that challenges universities and colleges around the world to come up with innovative ideas to help others.
“It is an amazing thing for [students] to come here and put into practice what they are learning in the classroom and see it actually change lives forever,” said Jon Milos, the faculty advisor for the Enactus club at Lambton College.
Milos, who is currently in the small Zambia town of Monze, started the project in June 2012 after a student who was learning about solar panels approached him.
The student wanted to bring alternative energy back to the African village he grew up in, and Milos, along with his former and current students, have been able to accomplish even more than that.
The Enactus program has partnered with an organization called Southwest Ag Partners, the group goes to Africa twice a year with a team of agronomists who development the best farming techniques and practices for the land.
Milos said they’ve been able to quadruple the crop yields and farmers have three to five times more than their traditional revenue.
Milos believes the program has changed the lives of a quarter of a million people living in Zambia who were living in poverty.
“We have put food in their stomachs and we have put money their pockets ands now they are starting to build their communities because of that,” he said.
Milos said the farming techniques have proven to be so success that the Minister of Education in Zambia has agreed to adopt the farming program in 145 schools across the province.
Peanuts to 20x the profits
One of the clubs most recent projects in Zambia has been the creation of Hippy Peanut Butter. Milos said the Zambian people are able to grow peanuts easily but were selling the product for cheap at the markets.
“Our students said ‘What if we took those peanuts and we cleaned them and we processed them and we made peanut butter, packaged, marketed and sold it and we owned the value chain right from the ground to store shelves,'” said Milos.
Milos said Hippy Peanut Butter is now earning 20 times the amount of money than the peanuts would being sold on their own.
Students are also in negotiations with one of Zambia’s top grocery stores to get the product on the shelves.
Courtney Neilson is the co-president for the Enactus program at Lambton College, she was one of the students who launched the peanut butter company.
Enactus World Cup
Neilson, who has been to Zambia once, said the project has “changed her life,” and she can’t wait to go back.
“It has transformed my student experience completely, we took everything we learned in the classroom from market research, business development and we implemented it in the real life,” she said.
The Enactus team is preparing for the world competition held in San Jose, California in October.
Lambton College, with a population of only 3,000 students, will represent Canada next to 36 other countries.