Murdoch has become the first university in Western Australia to take part in the Big Issue’s Big Idea competition, reaching the national finals.
The competition saw undergraduate students at participating universities develop a concept and business plan for a social enterprise that delivers solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives.
The Murdoch team was drawn from its ‘Masterclass’ students and included Dan Chadwick, Amanda Elizabeth, Josh Martin and Cameron Desfosses.
“We built a business case for a compact discount book which vendors would buy for five dollars and sell on to customers for 10 dollars,” Ms Elizabeth said.
“A discount book leant itself very well to the current Big Issue model and had the advantage of being easily localised, with books being adapted from city to city and season to season without a great deal of cost.
“Hearing from men and women who sell the Big Issue made us conscious of practical usage, and so we wanted something small enough to fit into a handbag or wallet for customers and convenient for vendors to carry.”
The team undertook interviews with consumers, current vendors and potential businesses and found that 98 per cent of people indicated that they would be willing to pay $10 to $13 for a book if it promised $100 in savings.
Ms Elizabeth said the cost was also an incentive for those who didn’t intend to use the entire book, as using a two-for-one coffee voucher would help recoup almost half the initial cost.
“The idea is a win-win for everyone. The vendor has an additional product to sell, people who want to support the underprivileged have a way to do so and people motivated by discounts get great savings.
“We see the discount book as a practical and self-sustaining social enterprise that doesn’t feel like charity. In fact, it relieves ‘charity fatigue’ by offering something tangible.”
While the team didn’t take top prize in the finals in Melbourne, feedback on their idea was excellent and the Big Issue is currently assessing the viability of the idea to see if it could be put into practice.
“The School of Management and Governance entered the competition to emphasise its change away from traditional business school arenas into broader governance and the support of sustainable social communities. The students have been champions of that move and we are very proud of them,” said Dean Peter McKiernan.
For more information on the competition, go here.