Student entrepreneurship in social innovation

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Tom Shen appears to be like any driven fourth-year financial math student studying at Wilfrid Laurier University, hoping to achieve good grades and gain many accomplishments in his work. However, his thriving business enterprise called Unitwi is the fundamental piece that separates him from his peers.

Unitwi is a community based social commerce site, which offers a platform for proletarians and freelancers to provide help services in their local community with a small payment when someone is in need. The objective of Shen’s venture is merely to reinforce the togetherness of the community by encouraging everyone to contribute and supply for each other, regardless of the situation or who is involved.

First making this dream a reality in Sept. 2011, Shen began his company because of the stimulating environment and the inspiring citizens Shen is fortunate enough to meet everyday. Shen’s beliefs are what have kept him grounded throughout the process of establishing his enterprise.

“I didn’t want to dedicate eight hours of everyday to something my values didn’t align with,” Shen said.

Despite the humbling development of self-discovery and evolution through the work, Shen admits that entrepreneurship is a complex mission and it requires incredible commitment and determination for it to be a true accomplishment.

Sacrifices have to be made when entering entrepreneurship, as one’s reluctance to give up security and stability will not guarantee a triumphant entrepreneur, according to Shen. Thankfully, Shen is accepting of the challenges in the future.

“As long as I live, risk is the door that opens opportunity and experience,” Shen adds.

When looking into the future of Unitwi, Shen has made it his goal to graduate from Communitech, a non-profit organization that helps and supports technology companies, and offer an efficient program for people to grow to be involved in their community and earn money simply by using their everyday talent. Shen hopes to transform consumption into participation, as this will lead to production of their time and talent.

Shen’s inspirational endeavor is built upon the support, which comes from service providers and amateurs. Beginning his venture with the help and support from Communitech, Shen hopes to expand on his business and inspire others from the community to take part.

“Hopefully through my venture, I can really inspire people to have more faith and confidence in themselves, instead of following the norm, really embrace their unique talent and seek opportunity. I think that is the essence of entrepreneurship,” Shen concluded.


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