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Turning ideas into reality: Alumnus establishes the Social Impact Prize at Sussex

Sussex has always attracted students who strive to make a difference. For one alumnus, it was a desire to make a positive impact on the world that was the driving force behind a generous gift to the Friends of the University of Sussex. Thanks to this kind philanthropic support, Sussex has been able to establish the Social Impact Prize as part of the Start-up Sussex scheme.

Open to any current student, or those who have graduated from the University of Sussex during the last three years, the annual prize (which will run for five years) takes the form of a bursary, ongoing mentoring from the Sussex Innovation Support Team, virtual membership of the Sussex Innovation Centre and publicity for the winning enterprise. Competition entrants are required to submit a business idea whose core aim is to create a positive social impact, achieving its goals through the employment of a sustainable business model.

Affording the necessities of life in a sustainable way

Beating other applicants to win the inaugural Social Impact Prize was Roisai Wangsuban, a Chevening Masters Scholar at Sussex, and her business concept The Solidarity Program.

Roisai’s business model focused on addressing issues associated with the high levels of consumer debt amongst low-income workers in Thailand, where poor wages leave many unable to provide even the most basic of necessities for their families. Roisai’s business plan proposed supplying life-essential goods and products at fair and affordable prices via a B2B partnership with workplace cooperatives. On a microfinance level, her model included offering savings and credit facilities with 0% interest and a payment instalment programme.

Roisai has now completed her studies at Sussex and has returned to Thailand where she has used some of her prize money to get The Solidarity Program incorporated as a company. Staff from the Sussex Innovation Centre continue to mentor her and they are helping Roisai to firm up her next steps, as well as to decide how she can use the remainder of her prize money to best advantage.

Please make a difference by making a gift to the Friends today. 

By: Emma Wigmore
Last updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2018