Enactus is a student organization at the University of North Georgia that strives to make the world a better place by applying an entrepreneurial attitude to community service. Katie Simmons, staff advisor to the Enactus team on UNG's Gainesville campus, talks about the projects her team has worked on and where Enactus is headed.
What is Enactus and what kind of projects do you undertake?
Enactus is a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. The name was chosen to reflect the following:
• Entrepreneurial—having the perspective to see an opportunity and the talent to create value from that opportunity
• Action—the willingness to do something and the commitment to see it through even when the outcome is not guaranteed
• Us—a group of people who see themselves connected in some important way; individuals who are part of a greater whole
UNG has had this program (formerly Students In Free Enterprise or SIFE) since 1991. The UNG team has been named one of the top five teams in the United States, France and China, and won an all-expense paid trip to the SIFE World Cup competition in Berlin.
Our team works on projects on campus and in the community that target people in need to improve their quality of life or raise their standard of living. For example, our team has recently completed an organic garden at Friendship Elementary School where children grow vegetables that are served in the school cafeteria and sold to raise funds to sustain the garden. We have also built a "reading trail" at Friendship Elementary, combining literacy with physical activity.
Enactus students teach workshops on budgeting for college and interviewing skills. They also lead campus tours, serve on a Student Life Panel, and teach financial literacy workshops on campus and in the community through the Peer Financial Counselor program.
Our team has also been involved for a number of years in a microlending community development project in Nicaragua in partnership with the Amigos for Christ organization. We have raised money to fund the microlending program in a variety of ways including working with Amigos at the annual Celebrate Service Music Festival in Suwanee. We have also sent students to Nicaragua to work directly with the communities.
|The UNG Enactus team|
Enactus has recently changed its name from SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), how has the focus of the group shifted along with this name change?
The former name, Students In Free Enterprise, didn't translate well to the international community. Not all countries understand "free enterprise," and the focus on students limited the organization to expansion in the business community. SIFE international hired a rebranding company to test names and announced the new name at the SIFE World Cup held in Washington, D.C., in October. Enactus hopes the new name and focus will allow for growth internationally and keep alumni involved after graduation and encourage business partners to become involved—even if they were never involved as students.
How is Enactus expanding to achieve this internationally centered focus?
Enactus has active teams in 38 countries on 1,600 university campuses with a student enrollment of 62,000 members. Teams compete at regional events in their home countries where they showcase their projects to other teams and a panel of judges who represent the business community. Regional champions then compete at the National Exposition held in each Enactus country. The Enactus national champion for each country is invited to compete at the World Cup where the Enactus world champion is named. These events raise awareness for Enactus and the teams. The United States has 550 teams competing at 16 regional competitions. The 2013 World Cup event will be held in Cancun, Mexico; the 2012 event was held in Washington, D.C., and was co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Enactus moves the World Cup between the United States, Europe, Asia (the 2011 World Cup was held in Malaysia), and Central/South America to increase exposure.