Students' big ideas may change face of St Vinnies

23 May 2017


This article originally appeared in The Queensland Times, by author Anna Hartley, on 23rd May 2017. 

THE creative ideas of young university students might help St Vincent de Paul stores become more than just a place to get second-hand bargains.

Students from the University of Queensland Business School have teamed up with the St Vincent de Paul Society to transform an unused space at the charity's Ipswich West site into a new venture, providing employment opportunities to people struggling to find work locally.

St Vinnies in West Ipswich could soon open a cafe with chairs, sofas and a free craft corner where customers can shop, relax and socialise.

That's one business plan put forward by students at UQ in St Lucia, who have been tasked with coming up with ideas for the site as part of their assessment.

This week students will pitch their ideas to management at St Vincent's and, in July, a winning group will be selected.

Dr Richard Robinson from the UQ Business School said the project not only gave students a chance to work on real-world businesses but also offered a fresh perspective for long-standing organisations like St Vinnies.

"For their course, students have to do a piece of assessment where they draw up a business plan.

"Most do hypothetical ones but we had the chance here, because there was a real need from Vinnies, to add a food service dimension of some sort to their retail store," he said.

"These guys came up with some amazing ideas.

"Partnering with Vinnies has the opportunity to make a real difference to the disadvantaged in the community whose lives are extremely complex and difficult."

Student Valentina Santolia said the opportunity to work on a business plan for such a big company was exciting.

"I saw it as an opportunity to finally be able to put into practice what we study every day," she said.

"The opportunity to see your project realised in the real world in very exciting."

You can read the full article here.