Amber: Can you start by introducing yourself to our readers?
Shin: Hi, my name is Shin Lee. I’m a junior marketing major here at UT. I’m also the president of Texas Enactus.
Amber: What is Texas Enactus? What is its core purpose?
Shin: Texas Enactus is a social entrepreneurship org at UT. When a lot of people think of social entrepreneurship, they just think of entrepreneurship. But what we do is we create projects that are solely for the purpose of creating social change. This is also on our website, but environmentally, economically, socially sustainable initiatives– those are the different types. But we do a variety of projects that will allow our students to work on creating a better world through tangible steps.
Amber: What are some projects?
Shin: Currently, we’re working on two projects. One’s called Rainewable and the other one’s called cherryish yourself. We’ve been working on them for more than a year now. Cherryish yourself is an organization that promotes awareness against sexual assault, as well as mental health awareness. That’s our core goal and this is done through a fashion brand. We have our own clothing line that our students design. We finance it. We market it. We actually sell it. Currently we sell to UT students but we’re looking toward selling digitally. That’s our initiative– to get people talking through our clothing products, whether they are shirts, tote bags, or bucket hats that we’re in the process of creating right now. For Project Rainewable, we actually sent our team to Nicaragua this past summer, and they designed and built, with the help of our partners like Esterly, prototypes for water filtration systems that they installed next to a school house in Nicaragua that didn’t have access to fresh drinking water. That’s what we were getting ready for last year. This year, we’re doing a similar thing but with a completely different prototype design, and we’re going to be installing it to the side of the McCombs building here at UT. Our ultimate goal is so that we can actually change rainwater into drinking water here just through our project.
Amber: So how would new students who just joined your club participate in one of these projects?
Shin: When students join our org, they apply directly for the project and the role that they are looking to get into. There’s no general membership for us. In Rainewable there’s a prototype team, which our org is very diverse in major. A lot of the prototype team will be engineering majors, even though we’re a business affiliated organization. We also have marketing and finance teams, and even supply chain operational teams. For cherryish yourself, there’s similar things, but obviously instead of deployment, it would be something like design–we have really talented people on our design team who are working on getting the perfect shirts and bucket hats and everything. We also have finance and marketing. Marketing is huge for cherryish yourself. So there’s a bunch of different teams that students can join. No matter what major you’re in, it doesn’t matter. We obviously have tons of business and economics majors, but there’s also design majors, RTF majors, engineering majors, even religious studies majors. We have a whole diverse group.
Amber: How do funding and mentors come into play with these projects?
Shin: For Project Rainewable funding, we actually got a lot of funding from the Green Fund here at UT, so that has been a huge chunk of money we’re using to fund only that project. Just one prototype because of the fact that it’s like a real working prototype with industrial parts– it takes so much money, so Green Funds definitely has been saving us for that project. But for cherryish yourself and some general funding, since we are a McCombs affiliated student organization, we try to get corporate sponsorships. One of our corporate sponsors is Enterprise Holdings, and they’ve been sponsoring us for many years now, which we’re extremely grateful for. So that’s where some of our money comes from. And then we can save it from year to year so we can use it on future projects as well. Some of it is also through fundraising. When we went to Nicaragua last year, the members that went did their own fundraising, so that they could pay for the flight and any other things that they needed.
Amber: Do you also have mentors that help with the projects from the McCombs School of Business or the Austin startup scene?
Shin: Yeah, so our staff advisor here is Dennis Passovoy, and he’s a management professor here at UT. Without him, Enactus would not run at all. He’s been the advisor for us for many, many years, since the very beginning. So he knows everything.Anytime any of the exec members need advice, he’s always there. He actually talked to us during our first general meeting, which happened a couple of weeks ago, and I think our members definitely learned a lot. Besides that, Project Rainewable was initially created by Project Schoolhouse, which is a completely separate organization outside of UT that we work with, and they have definitely been helping us with guiding through what we should do,what sort of next steps we should take, and things like that.
Amber: How is Texas Enactus related to the global Enactus organization?
Shin: We are directly a part of the global Enactus. We’re just one branch. Since COVID, we haven’t done much with big Enactus. But Project Rainewable actually did compete. They competed in one of their preliminary events, and they actually won third place with that. This upcoming year, we’re planning on going to the national Expo–I believe, if project Rainewable chooses to do so. But if they decide to do so then we’ll be taking that project to the national Expo so that we can potentially compete for Worlds. So we’re always in communication with big Enactus.
Amber: What is the most challenging thing about running this club?
Shin: It feels like running two completely different organizations sometimes. I guess it would be the same for any consulting organization that has multiple cases that they’re taking on. But because project Rainewable and project cherryish yourself have nothing in common, keeping track of both of them, and trying to support both of them to the fullest sometimes gets a little overwhelming. But thankfully, I have a really good exec team particularly. I have a project VP, and his name is Krish and he’s extremely dedicated to making sure that everything’s running smoothly. We have weekly meetings to catch up with everyone. So that is definitely helping a lot and as well as our project managers for each project are always on top of it there. I can trust them to handle the projects and do good things with it. So that’s the relief.
Amber: What would be your favorite thing about the process of running this club?
Shin: My favorite part is meeting the new members as well as getting closer to the old members. I think the reason why I ran for an executive position in Texas Enactus is just the fact that I knew that the environment here and the culture in Texas Enactus is something that’s really special. We have brown bag buddy. We call it Brown Bags, but it’s just like two people meeting together one-on-one and just getting to know each other. I remember last year I did mine with someone who’s now on the exec team with me. She’s the marketing VP. Her name is Paola and we actually watched K dramas together. This year it’s so exciting because two of the people on my executive team I’ve known since middle school. It just happened to turn out that way. So we all know each other, we can have fun with each other, we can laugh with each other. Seeing all of us just grow closer together and seeing that everyone is genuinely having fun. During the social today, multiple members said “yes, I’m having so much fun in these projects.” And I was like, “that’s a relief.” Since I’m not directly managing the projects, sometimes I just don’t know what’s going on at a granular level. So hearing that indirectly from the members is like “good, we’re doing something right.”
Amber: Where do you see Texas Enactus in the next five years?
Shin: I honestly think it can only keep growing. I don’t see Texas Enactus declining anytime soon. I see the people that are coming in and I see so much talent and so much passion in them. I was like “Oh, I hope people that genuinely care will come in,” and they did. They are doing so much for the organization and I think in the years to come they will continue to bring in new ideas, execute them, and keep it going. I think we’ll do bigger projects and will also most likely get into the groove of being active in the global Enactus setting. I guess the hope is to win the national international global level. That would be the dream. We’re not there yet but I think we’ll get there. I think we have plenty of time to get there even in the next five years.
Amber: Where can students find out more about Texas Enactus, and is there anything else you would like students to know about your organization?
Shin: The main way would be through our website texasenactus.org. The second way would be through our Instagram @texasenactus. Students who are interested sometimes email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We reply to pretty much every single email through there. If you have any direct questions, feel free to just DM us or email us. Our org is very inclusive. Our org is very welcoming. We don’t expect you to know everything or to be a professional in something. We just want to see that you want to learn and you want to make a change with one of our projects, and maybe you have a future project on your own.
Amber: Thank you for your time Shin Lee. I can’t wait to see where Texas Enactus goes from here.