Grad promotes social entrepreneurship

- Christine McLaren

From an early age Master's of Public Administration (MPA) graduate Kanika Gupta learned the importance of commitment to community. In high school she started a club to promote volunteering as a way of meeting new people, discovering the community and having fun. Today, she continues to use innovative ways to engage youth around social responsibility.

While working as a page in the House of Commons, she was exposed to the political side of government and pursued her MPA because she felt it was equally important to understand the policy and decision-making aspects of government. "An MPA seemed like a logical choice to better understand the public sector and how it can interact with other sectors to affect positive social change," says Gupta.

She chose UVic's MPA program to complement her commerce degree. What she found was an inspiring program, supportive faculty and a dream fulfilled in her co-op work term at the UN Development Programme in New York.

An accomplished young social entrepreneur, she was awarded the Alterna Savings Award for Social Responsibility Leadership in 2007, the same year she founded Nukoko, a Canadian nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable development and universal primary education in Africa. Nukoko, which means "smile" in a Togolese dialect, is currently helping over 600 girls in West Africa gain access to school.

Following her participation in the 2009 Order of Canada Mentorship Program, established to provide an opportunity for members of the Order of Canada to mentor young Canadians, Gupta was invited to join a delegation last spring accompanying Canada's then-Governor General, Michaëlle Jean on official state visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Senegal and the Republic of Cape Verde.

Following the visits she joined roundtables, panel discussions and informal dialogues on issues related specifically to youth participation and community engagement. "I am very optimistic that the strong presence of youth activism in the African countries we visited will yield positive results and will be influential factors as these countries continue to develop," says Gupta.

The required master's project for her MPA provided the catalyst for a new venture called Social Journal. "Conducting academic research allowed me to explore an area I am very passionate about in a new light," says Gupta. "I gained a more holistic understanding and appreciation for youth social entrepreneurship."

Social Journal ( is an online community that will connect individuals and young entrepreneurs wishing to start social ventures. Through inspiring youth to turn their ideas of social change into reality, the intent is to provide the information, tools and resources to empower individuals to take action. "This is an exciting initiative and it all began because of my master's project."


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Keywords: grad, promotes, social, entrepreneurshi

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