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CQUni student puts disengaged youth in the frame with Big Idea pitch

Published:19 November 2019

CQUni student Bikesh Shrestha is a finalist in The Big Idea national social enterprise design competition.

He’s passionate about changing the world, and CQUniversity student Bikesh Shrestha hopes that the transformation starts with a camera.

His creative idea is already making an impact, winning through to the national finals of The Big Idea competition.

The Sydney-based Master of Management for Engineers student entered the social enterprise design challenge with a concept to help young people get job-ready and community-connected through an event photography business that provided training and mentoring.

“Providing a service that is more affordable than mainstream photographers, but also provides vulnerable youth with a way into the workforce, would mean people would know that booking our service could make a difference to young people, too,” he explained.

Bikesh has embraced social innovation since starting his degree with CQUniversity, completing its online iChange introductory program, attending the Gladstone Social Innovation Workshop, achieving a scholarship to attend the Ashoka U Exchange in San Diego, and being appointed a Change Champ Social Innovation Ambassador for CQUni Sydney.

His comprehensive business plan impressed judges from competition coordinator The Big Issue, and the determined changemaker will now face a panel of corporate and community heavyweights for finals judging in Melbourne on Thursday 28 November.

The panel includes former politician and social impact leader Cheryl Kernot, PwC Australia partner Tracey Kennair, Urban Development Institute of Australia CEO Danni Hunter, Bosch Australia president Gavin Smith, and The Big Issue CEO Steve Persson.

CQUni Director of Social Innovation Lara Carton said Bikesh’s enthusiasm was key to his success.

“Since his first interest in social innovation at CQUni, Bikesh has proven his passion for changemaking, and his determination to help others,” Ms Carton said.

“It’s been wonderful to see his ideas for social enterprise grow and develop, and we’re thrilled he’s representing CQUni in The Big Idea finals.”

Open to all students, this year five CQUni teams nominated for the national competition, with Bikesh and another undergraduate team from Mackay progressing through first-round judging.

CQUniversity has supported students to enter The Big Idea annually since 2014. That year, an undergrad team of engineering students from Rockhampton were overall winners, with their pallet house concept.

CQUni students have also made national finals regularly, winning again in 2015 (postgraduate) and 2017 (undergraduate).

Many of the participants have gone on to grow their social innovation impact in careers and not-for-profit enterprises.

Originally from Nepal, Bikesh said he hoped his future career, and his growing experience with social entrepreneurship, would also make a big difference globally.

“You can see that there are a lot of people out there trying to do good, but the solutions they’re coming up with are not the problem that they have. But if we can learn the human-centred design process, we can actually hit the problem at the right point and maybe we can solve it,” he explained.

“What would I like to change? I would like to solve all the problems of the world! But with my current skills and experience, I’m excited that my concept for The Big Idea is a good place to start.”

To learn more about social innovation at CQUniversity, visit cqu.edu.au/socialinnovation.