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You’re hired! The Big Issue’s university ‘Apprentice’ challenge kicks off

Business and marketing students from Glasgow Caledonian University will go head to head to sell as many magazines as possible as part of a seven-week competition

Enterprising students at Glasgow Caledonian University are going head-to-head on campus in an Apprentice-style challenge to see who can sell the most Big Issue magazines over seven days.

Swapping the lecture hall for the boardroom, the 20 business and marketing students kicked off the challenge last week with a briefing from Big Issue staff and tips from vendors. Each starting with five free copies – just like regular Big Issue vendors – they must buy any further copies for £1.25, selling them on designated pitches on campus for £2.50.

We’re going to tell people that message of ‘a hand-up not a hand-out’ and hopefully they’ll understand it’s more than just a magazine

The three teams – Talpa, The Entrepreneurs and Trinity – will battle for the chance to win a summer internship with event sponsor Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

The scheme is part of organisers Enactus’ efforts to bring students, universities and business leaders together to tackle the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda – a UN-backed plan to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. It is also hoped that the sell-off will inspire students to create social enterprises all over the world.

James Russell, Enactus commercial team leader, said: “This is the first project we’ve run like this at the University. The Big Issue sell-off is the perfect challenge to start with because it chimes with so many of our own values at Enactus, such as transforming lives and sustainable development through commerce.”

Profits from the challenge will go towards Enactus projects across the city which include working with Glasgow City Mission’s Kitchen team and Renfrew and Arran High Schools, where students mentor pupils on employability skills, CV training and assisting with university applications.

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Trinity team leader Eve Parker said: “We didn’t know much about The Big Issue before. We’re hoping that if people know a bit more about the magazine and what the company does, they will buy a copy from us. I didn’t know, for example, that vendors were basically entrepreneurs.

“We’re going to tell people that message of ‘a hand-up not a hand-out’ and hopefully they’ll understand it’s more than just a magazine.”

Meanwhile the candidate and treasurer for rival team, The Enterpreneurs, Amanda Twigg, 24, insisted that she thinks her opinion of vendors will have changed by the end of the week. She said: “Even just hearing what they do today, I’ve got a greater appreciation for them. They’re out there selling magazines every day, we’re only doing this for a week. I didn’t know vendors had to work out their stock levels every week. I think that will be a real challenge for us.”

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