A group of University of Kansas School of Engineering and School of Business students has revived a campus organization that strives to give its members “a head for business and a heart for the world.” Twenty-two students from the two Schools are involved in Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). The organization has been holding meetings since the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, after being dormant on campus for more than five years.
Several KU SIFE members will travel later this month to Chicago for a SIFE USA Regional Competition. Teams are evaluated on how successful they are at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for those in need. Each team must prepare a printed annual report and a 24-minute audio-visual presentation describing the outcomes of their projects. The presentation is followed by a five minute Q&A period with a panel of judges comprised of leaders from companies that include Wal-Mart, Unilever, KPMG, Campbell's, and HSBC. Sixty-five teams are set to participate in the Chicago regional competition, planned for April 16.
“We are proud of the progress we have made in our first year of re-establishing our SIFE team at KU,” said Will Katz, director of the KU small business center and SIFE faculty adviser. “We look forward to our first competition, and we are excited about the work we will be doing for years to come.”
The competition is held in conjunction with an all-day career fair where students are able to meet and network with representatives from several of SIFE's partner companies. Regional winners advance to the USA National Competition, which is in Kansas City, Mo., this year. The national winner will represent the United States and compete against 39 other countries in the SIFE World Cup this fall in Washington.
“It is hard to believe just how far KU SIFE has come in the last few months. Our team has done a phenomenal job at creating and developing several projects. We are looking forward to representing the University at regional competition and hope to bring home a trophy for all of our hard work,” said Caleb Christianson, a junior in engineering physics and president of KU SIFE.
KU SIFE members have also been involved in several community projects this year.
The OJOS Project
Students helped two KU alumni and local entrepreneurs launch a company aimed at helping people in need of prescription eyewear. The effort is known as the OJOS (eyes in Spanish) Project. For every pair of sunglasses sold, the company will make a pair of prescription frames and donate them to Physicians for Peace, a non-profit organization that performs eye exams and provides eyeglasses to people in need around the world. KU SIFE helped the local company with marketing and cash flow planning.
KU SIFE worked with 50 middle school students involved in the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence to provide hands on experience in business principles, through a one-day program known as Enterprise City. The middle-schoolers built crafts, such as paper airplanes, origami, and jewelry and were given a salary and took turns buying and selling their craft.
KU SIFE is working to develop a student-run business incubator, which will allow students to apply their knowledge and experience to help entrepreneurs and small businesses. So for, the incubator has:
*Designed a business plan and built a website for a new non-profit organization that assists local senior citizens with their day-to-day lives.
*Created a logo, researched recruiting strategies, and began building a website for a local auto repair business.
*KU SIFE is also in the process of creating a marketing strategy and 30 second TV commercial for another Lawrence entrepreneur.
PrintPop.com is a website founded by a local entrepreneur that provides opportunities for aspiring and emerging artists to profit from high quality digital reprints of their art, while allowing the artist to keep their original artwork. The reprints can be purchased on a variety of items such as posters, messenger bags, coffee mugs, and more. KU SIFE has helped create a KU student gallery in order to showcase the talents of KU students. One special feature of this gallery is that all of the revenue generated from the reprints will be split evenly among the artist, PrintPop.com, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.