The question will be put up for a vote at the CSU byelection
For many entrepreneurs, finding resources to start a business can be a difficult pursuit. However, the Concordia Student Union is looking to making this easier for Concordia’s entrepreneurs.
At their special council meeting Oct. 21, CSU councillors approved a referendum question in favour of the CSU sharing their resources to aid the creation of a Concordia organization benefiting entrepreneurial projects. The question will be voted on by students during by-elections which will be held Nov. 24 to 26.
The organization would be run by individuals, mostly students who are already involved with different solidarity economy projects around campus.
Arts & Sciences councillor Ben Prunty said this concept was initially started as a petition. “After presenting the petition I spoke to a few of [those interested in the project] and council felt it was a constructive project worth exploring,” he said. The newly approved referendum question tested to see if students were interested in this project before further commitment and investment.
Prunty told The Concordian the CSU is currently working on a two year minimum pilot project that will try to achieve the goals in the referendum question. “The pilot project is so far aimed at supporting new and developing solidarity economy enterprises, but also to engage and connect students to an alternative to the typical capitalist model of entrepreneurship which is centred around private profit and an unlimited growth economy,” said Prunty.
This solidarity economic organization is focused around benefiting the public, as well as democratic entrepreneurship. Prunty said the solidarity economy is operated outside of the “hero entrepreneur” myth, where one individual seeks risk and reward. This operation would instead engage communities in relation to each other, working alongside these entrepreneurs on a project-by-project basis. “[This project would] create and build a future we would like to live in through entrepreneurial means,” Prunty said.
Prunty said with capitalist programs, much of the risk has already been taken by communities—as he said, “where one person takes on all the risk and reward.” However, the CSU is currently working with students and community members to diminish complications from the capitalist model of entrepreneurship within communities. These entrepreneurial issues include inequities, power imbalances, as well as environmental degradation.
Recent contributions to the solidarity economy stemming from student support includes the Hive Cafe, the Burritoville co-op as well as the Popular University Student Housing (PUSH) fund—
which would work to fund affordable co-op student housing. With the positive response from students for these organizations, the CSU has been encouraged to work on the economically beneficial autonomous organization.
These organizations have provided experience to many students, allowing them to gain skills and be involved in networking opportunities.
Prunty said the CSU is building the pilot project for the purpose of intentional development of the solidarity economy. “We are in a pivotal moment for social entrepreneurship at Concordia, and, with the support of students, we want to make sure that economic democracy and community benefit,” said Prunty.
“We are excited to work with students and the community to incubate new ideas into self-supporting, socially transformative new projects,” Prunty said.
For those interested in contributing to this project, contact CSU at firstname.lastname@example.org