Written by Nicole Almond, President, Enactus Canada

There are moments that make me feel so proud to be Canadian. Chances are, you may have experienced the same ones.

It’s watching a Tragically Hip concert on the CBC with a lump in your throat, singing along with sadness and pride, and knowing the entire nation is singing along beside you. Or getting up in the middle of the night, turning on the TV and keeping your eyes glued to a little black puck as it flies past the goaltender for a golden win.

It’s smiling when you travel and explain what a “double-double” is. Or when get to share iconic Canadian landscapes with a visiting friend or family member, seeing it through their eyes for the first time.

As President of Enactus Canada, I get to experience proud Canadian moments every day. With more than 2,700 Canadian students enrolled in an Enactus program, these students amass more than 430,000 volunteer hours a year, making our country a better place for all.

And that thing about sharing Canadian sights with a friend? This week, I get to experience that proud moment 3,500 times over, as Toronto once again joins the list of global cities like New York, Johannesburg and Beijing with the privilege of hosting an Enactus World Cup.

Around the world, Enactus is active in 36 countries, and is a vast community of student, academic and business leaders who are using entrepreneurial action to create a better, more sustainable world. As a national charity and a global network, we apply our passions, talents and ideas to impact individual lives.

This week, more than 3,500 students and business leaders from around the world have converged in Toronto for the Enactus World Cup, an annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation, with an eye towards changing the world.

I remember the first time I experienced an Enactus World Cup event, as a student at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2003. It took place in Mainz, Germany, and I suppose it was my first-ever business trip abroad. I’ll never forget how I felt when I walked into the Cultural Experience event, my eyes wide at the colour and celebratory spirit that filled the room. Donning red and white, with maple syrup in tow, we were welcomed with high fives and smiles from all around the world. In that moment, I knew this organization would be with me for a long time. Here I am, 13 years later, and the growth that has taken place is incredible.

Today, our Canadian Enactus teams from more than 60 university and college campuses are identifying real challenges in our country, and tackling them in meaningful ways.

So why does it matter?

It’s because an entrepreneurial spirit is what’s needed to make Canada a better place.

For example, one issue some of our teams have identified is food security in Canada’s North. Students from Ryerson University and Memorial University of Newfoundland (our current National Champion) have turned their ideas to reality.

Ryerson raised capital to build a geodesic biodome in Nunavut that can produce more than 20,000 lbs of produce per year. Local youth learned about business, horticulture, healthy eating and greenhouse operations to ensure the project’s sustainability.

Memorial tackled the same need, through the creation of low-cost hydroponic units, enabling individuals in remote communities to grow fresh produce in their own homes. The project also employs local youth to build the units and creates community co-operatives of entrepreneurs. In less than a year, they have engaged more than 50 entrepreneurs, and are operating in two Canadian provinces.

In Vancouver, students from Simon Fraser University wanted to help disadvantaged individuals build confidence, skills and generate their own income. The solution stems from something we use every day – soap. Collecting slightly-used hotel bar soaps, they are put through a triple-rinse cycle of sanitation, are bottled as liquid soap, and sold to vendors in Downtown Vancouver. As of May of last year, the project had diverted 2,500 soaps from landfills, providing wages and part-time employment to six marginalized individuals.

Have goosebumps yet?

These are just three projects out of 280 that were implemented by Enactus Canada teams last year. And Canada is one country of 36 involved globally. And this week, they’re all here, along with 480 of our own Canadian students who have made their way to Toronto to share, learn, and welcome the world.

Pride runs deep. These students, who are addressing some of the world’s most challenging issues, are doing it while balancing a full-time course load, and likely a part-time job or two. The Enactus World Cup lets them build a network of likeminded people from all around the world, before they even graduate from university.

If you’re worried about the future, you just need to see an Enactus event to see that we are in very good hands. Tune in. You won’t be disappointed.

Catch the livestream September 28-30 at enactus.org/worldcup or follow the action at @Enactus_Canada or #WeAllWin and #EnactusWorldCup. To get involved in Canada, visit enactus.ca/get-involved.