When Nuha Siddiqui began studying business and environmental economics at the University of Toronto in 2014, the first club she wanted to join was Enactus. Through an older sibling, she already knew of the not-for-profit’s reputation for encouraging young entrepreneurs to use innovation and business principles to help create a better world through an experiential platform.
“Enactus really encourages students to take risks and face challenges head on,” says Siddiqui. “It provides resources, mentorship, guidance, and pathways for you to build on so you can bring forth solutions to real issues.”
Entrepreneurship leads to innovative solutions
Siddiqui started by tackling the hot-button issue of plastic pollution after hearing a World Economic Forum statistic saying there would be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050. She and her Enactus team started by investigating alternatives to styrofoam packaging made from agriculture by-products (in this case, vegetable waste). This experience served as the foundation for EcoPackers, incorporated in 2018 after she graduated.
The company offers a plant-based resin, an eco-friendly, compostable replacement for single-use plastics. It’s an idea that has earned support with more than $4 million raised for the startup in just four months. Those funds will be used to open a new research and development centre near Toronto in early 2020 and to hire 20 employees to run it. This is in addition to an office in Asia, close to plastic manufacturers who use EcoPackers’ technology.
Siddiqui credits Enactus with helping her become a successful entrepreneur. “It promotes the entrepreneurial mindset,” she says. “It’s important for young people to have those skills. We’re fortunate to have so much support to take ideas forward in Canada. Don’t wait to build them until you finish school,” she advises. “Do it now.”