The ongoing Entrepreneurial Week celebrations happening in 39 colleges through competitions, motivational talks, skill-building workshops, awareness campaigns and innovative projects seem to be getting bigger and better in the city.

The E Week, as it is popularly known, is organised by the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), a not-for-profit initiative of the Wadhwani Foundation, where the range of events aim to inspire, educate and motivate one to think entrepreneurially — individually or institutionally. How innovative and creative can one get with the available opportunities? That was the motto of the fourth annual edition of E Week in which every college put their thinking caps on to be different from the other.

On Monday, within a few hours of the Entrepreneurial Bazaar getting under way at Ethiraj College for Women, a student of business economics Gayatri Varma saw the cash registers ringing, with the chocolate cakes that she prepared selling like hot cakes. She decided to get smarter when she realised the cakes were more in demand than the supply. From Rs.12 a piece, she hiked it to Rs.15 and then by Rs.5.

Students of Saveetha College of Engineering went a step ahead with their vermi composting project in campus by collecting around 5,000 egg shells from roadside fast food vendors in the last one week. This they cleaned and dried and powdered to sell as manure at Rs.50 a packet.

SSN College of Engineering conducted ‘Opportunity Hunt,’ in which 100 teams of three students each gathered on the Elliots Beach on Sunday. Each team was given a clay pot, which they had to paint and sell. In between, they were given the task of visiting five different locations to identify opportunities in the field of art. “Teams showcased great marketing skills; one group convinced a visitor to buy the pot at Rs.1,600. We had invested Rs.1,000 in the competition but earned Rs.8,000,” says Yash Dev Sekri, a student coordinator.

Meanwhile, Loyola College would put the organising and business skills of students from 32 different colleges to test on Tuesday and Wednesday at its programme, E Street. Various products would be sold.

For students and faculty, it is a learning experience and a launch pad for more innovations. Colleges agree the strength of E cells and interest towards entrepreneurship is growing and the success of these projects is to see how sustainably they are carried. B. Chandramouli, professor and E Cell mentor with SMK Fomra Institute of Technology, says: “Last year, we had 16 students enrolled with E Cell, this time we have over 100 students with around 80 events on and off campus,” he says. One of the successful projects was how students collected two tonnes of paper waste to recycle and sold different products made out of them in the college, he added. Hindustan University would see around 60 homemakers participate in a programme at the campus on Tuesday on how to identify business opportunities from home. They would not stop with that. Tie-up with government institutions and a platform to market their products would be identified, says Baby Thomas, coordinator of E Cell, Hindustan University.

However, faculty say a lot has to be done to sustain interest among students and encourage out-of-the-box thinking. “There are so many clubs in a college and the challenge is to sustain interest amid academics. These events provide a small initial spark but may be through credits or sustained projects entrepreneurial bent of mind needs to be taken forward,” says Francis Jose, associate professor of commerce, Loyola College.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012