We often times hear comments about how business schools can stifle students’ creativity and their desire to think bigger than just financial profits. Cheralyn Chok, a third year Commerce student at the Sauder School of Business, is proving the opposite. As the marketing and community development intern with My Green Space, one of the social ventures supported by the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, Cheralyn is learning how to creatively use business tools to have a positive impact on the world. We wanted to uncover the ins-and-outs of her experience what is it like like working with a social impact start-up…
As a student, what are the top reasons you were attracted to entrepreneurship and particularly, social entrepreneurship?
Since I was four, I always wanted to go to design school but somehow (due to a gentle push from my accountant parents), I ended up in business school. Since coming to Sauder in 2013, I learned that business doesn’t hinder my creativity in any way, and that I can actually use design and entrepreneurship as a creative outlet, which I discovered with Fly At Risk. Social entrepreneurship also appeals to me because of the stories of behind how and why these entrepreneurs started their businesses. Knowing that their reasons extended beyond financial profits also inspires me – it’s completely possible to develop communities and make a positive global impact on top of being a self-sustaining venture. I genuinely believe that all companies have to be focused on the triple bottom line to be successful. My current position with My Green Space is allowing me to explore this value and see it come to life.
What is your biggest win to date?
So far, my favourite part is having the opportunity to expand the community network at My Green Space. A fun project I have been involved in is organizing lunch and learn workshops at companies such as Daiya Foods, iQmetrix, and Bench Accounting. It’s different to be able to contribute from the company’s standpoint, rather than from being a student. We are collaborating with like-minded organizations like Zero Waste Market and The Juice Truck, just to name a few, and I am excited to work with all of them.
What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date?
Similar to all startups, the reality is that my role requires smart thinking with limited financial resources. I am learning how to be creative when working on an event or putting together a marketing budget. For example, we have identified community events as being value added services that My Green Space can provide to customers, instead of being our core product. We are finding creative and cost effective ways to acquire new customers and to build our brand.
Your turn – give a piece of advice for someone in your shoes next year wanting to be an intern at the iHub
My advice to fellow students would be to find something you are passionate about and start talking to people. Find a cause you care about and it will translate into something tangible, and you will attract the people who share your values and passion. As an iHub intern I encourage you to make friends with the other interns in the cohort and get their advice and support on similar problems. Your peer community of likeminded people is one of your greatest resources for growth. Last and not least, expect the unexpected and be prepared for autonomy, as you will have to have a very hands-on attitude and complete control over your projects.