Edinburgh Local

Students develop business ideas that tackle social challenges

The mission for students taking part in the #makeyourmark project was to design a product that tackles social challenges whilst also making a profit.

#makeyourmark students 2017
#makeyourmark students 2017

This year’s winners developed a subscription-based box of craft materials to tackle loneliness and isolation in old age. Their do-it-yourself Crafty Care kits could be marketed through existing befriending services and retail chains. 

Teams worked up their ideas over an intense 48 hours and then pitched to a panel of judges who included Alice Thompson, co-founder of Social Bite; Thomas Gillan, CFO of Social Investment Scotland; Chris Gillen, Founder of Heroes Vodka; and Polly Jones, Corporate Affairs Manager at Asda. 

The top three teams won the opportunity to spend valuable one-on-one networking time with leaders of global businesses and social enterprises.

In second place came Two Loo, a business to address the lack of accessible public toilets both in Edinburgh and Kenya. The students planned to take over disused facilities in the Scottish capital and refurbish them into accessible and safe toilets, decorated by locally-based artists. A 40p-per-use fee in Edinburgh toilets would be used to fund 800 public toilets in Kenya, potentially providing up to 40,000 people per day with access to much needed sanitary facilities.


This is a great lesson in what can be achieved in just 48 hours! The students participating in this year’s #makeyourmark challenge were very positive about the confidence and skills they gained. We were delighted by the quality of the work they produced in such short space of time, with some genuine social innovation that truly impressed the judges.

Professor Wendy Loretto, Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School,


In third place, HuMAN asked how to encourage men to check on their mental health. The social enterprise would develop a line of products encouraging men to reflect while shaving and beard grooming. The cans of shaving foam and bottles of beard oil would come with 26 prompts, including questions like “What three things are you grateful for today?” and “How do you deal with stress”. The revenue from one out of every five products sold would be donated to charities working with men in need.

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University of Edinburgh Business School