Three La Trobe University students have taken out the top prize in national competition The Big Idea.
Albury-Wodonga business students Samantha Richardson, Nathan Potter and Jenny Bevis claimed first place among 10 universities from across Australia with their social enterprise idea, The Vibe Collective.
The idea will challenge the region's young adults to "log off from the digital world" and engage with their peers and community.
The trio set themselves the challenge to enhance the emotional resilience and employability of young Australians with their social enterprise, and the challenge is already paying off.
Last month the collective was chosen to represent La Trobe University at The Big Idea, Australia's premier social enterprise business plan and pitch competition.
The team won the semi-final when they competed against students from 10 universities across the country on November 16 and pitched their business plan to judges from PwC, Social Traders and Australia's most significant social enterprise, The Big Issue.
"The genesis of the idea came from repeat conversations with locals between the age of 18 and 30 who are frustrated with the lack of access to events and arts that are of interest to them," Jenny said.
"And this is compounded by social issues such as mental health issues being on the rise and limited access to the right employment opportunities.
"It's unfortunate we are finding a lot of young people becoming complacent with their social lives and not practising their interpersonal skills on a more frequent basis.
"But The Vibe Collective envisions pulling you away from the screen and connecting you face to face.
"I'm a big believer in the potential of this region and wanted to use this as a vehicle for experimenting."
Jenny said studying in the region showed definite benefits.
"The beauty of studying in this area is that I've had the benefit of networking with local professionals and studying with young upcoming professionals," Jenny said.
"You get linked to businesses that care about young adults in the region and I know that a lot of local businesses want to retain young talent in the region as much as possible."
The next step for The Vibe Collective is to generate a six-month program of workshops, as well as live music and arts events and a boutique festival. In addition to build emotional resillience in the community the concept includes the priority of developing ways to provide student placement opportunities and employment pathways. Currently the idea is having a test run in a "club" environment with small social events around the region.
"Our vision is to see an emotionally resilient and socially-connected community," Jenny says.
For more information visit the website.
Jessica Watt, Community Engagement Officer (Albury-Wodonga)
T + 61 2 6024 9785
M + 61 407 368 237