– Queen Mary University of London

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At a ceremony in Florence, Dr Zhang was recognized for her work in launching the Queen Mary Social Venture Fund (QMSVF) in 2020 and her impact since. Student-led, the program invests in student-led social enterprises, taking on start-ups of all shapes and sizes to meet the challenges of our current society. It was the first program of its kind in the UK when it was launched.

The initiative aims to empower the next generation of social entrepreneurs and investors from diverse backgrounds. Although it has only run for two years, the program has already delivered some notable successes. The student investors contacted more than 200 social enterprises, organizing events and forums with almost 600 participants. One recipient entity, a company called Biophilica which turns green waste into leather-like materials, recently raised £1.2m in seed funding.

In keeping with Queen Mary’s unparalleled commitment to inclusivity and social justice, the QMSVF empowers students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds. This is all the more important as people from diverse backgrounds are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to succeeding in the world of start-ups.

More than three-quarters (77%) of QMSVF student investors are from ethnic minorities and 38% are women. The Fund has, to date, invested in and supported four social enterprises, all founded and co-founded by women entrepreneurs.

The QMSVF is part of Queen Mary’s Student Knowledge Exchange Through Community Hubs (SKETCH) program in which students provide pro bono advisory and venture capital services to local East London communities, start-ups, organizations of the third sector and beyond.

Dr Joanne Zhang, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and deputy director of education at Queen Mary’s School of Business and Management, said: “I am truly honored and honored by the award. Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’. QMSVF simulates a fund of real social venture capital, taking an authentic learning approach; I am delighted to see that the program is helping to cultivate the knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial mindset of students, regardless of their career path in the future.

Former students involved in the QMSVF have since spoken of the skills they learned and how it helped prepare them for life after education. Katherine Toledo Macedo, a former business and management student, said“I received job offers and I had many examples of QMSVF to share with recruiters regarding my knowledge and skills. I applied for a graduate job and an internship and got both! One of the offers I received was from an external QMSVF partner, with whom I worked during my time on the program. »

The Triple E Awards are one of the few to recognize entrepreneurship and commitment to higher education. This is global recognition of these efforts, with fierce competition for awards from universities around the world.

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