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SIFE Team Prepares for World Cup Competition in Washington, D.C.

Students will represent U.S. at event co-sponsored by State Department; Team announces new licensee for flagship project Spring Back Recycling

Students in Belmont University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team are preparing to depart this Friday for Washington, D.C., where they will represent the United States in the 2012 SIFE World Cup, an international competition that focuses on three key areas: people, profit and planet. With the tagline “A head for business, a heart for the world,” SIFE is an international non-profit organization that mobilizes students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

This is the second time in three years that Belmont SIFE has won the national championship, placing the group as the No. 1 team out of nearly 600 teams nationwide. The team will represent the United States at the SIFE World Cup Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.—the U.S. Department of State is co-hosting the event with SIFE, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to speak to the competing teams.

The 2012 SIFE World Cup will provide a showcase of the impact that SIFE teams are achieving around the world and will bring together an international network of more than 3,000 student, academic and business leaders from more than 39 countries. The student teams will be judged on how successful they have been at using business solutions to create sustainable economic opportunity for others. Click here to view Belmont SIFE’s winning presentation from the national championship competition in May.

Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “I am so proud of the SIFE team and their faculty advisors. They demonstrate so clearly what a Belmont education is all about – equipping students to develop their talents and use their abilities to meet the world’s needs. Winning the National championship and qualifying to compete for the World title is a well-deserved recognition of their hard work and commitment to serving others.”

During the 2011-12 academic year, Belmont SIFE focused on 14 projects to benefit the local and global communities. They addressed issues including job skills training, small business development and environmental sustainability. Belmont SIFE students spent 2,442 volunteer hours developing and completing their projects. In addition, the 42 SIFE team members are involved in many other organizations and represent a variety of majors across campus.

Spring Back Nashville’s Bryan King and Ron Harness break down a mattress.

As the group’s flagship project, Belmont SIFE developed the concept, business plan, supply chain, licensee structure and operations manual for Spring Back Recycling, a nonprofit business that employs formerly homeless or incarcerated workers in recycling mattresses, giving them an opportunity for sustainable employment and small business training. The original location, Spring Back Nashville (a partnership with Belmont Church’s Isaiah 58 ministry), celebrated its one-year anniversary in April and continues to gain momentum and national media interest. To date, more than 15,000 mattresses have been recycled, and 250 tons of waste diverted from landfills. In addition to receiving mattresses from individuals and a consortium of retailers covering five states, Spring Back is also currently in talks with the U.S. Navy to receive an additional 13,000 mattresses from two aircraft carriers this fall. The organization’s second licensee, Spring Back Colorado, opened in August, and the team is currently negotiating licensing opportunities in five other cities.

Other examples of the Belmont SIFE’s team projects include:

• Provided business and financial plans to fashionABLE, which works with women from Ethiopia whose former source of income was to sell their bodies as prostitutes. With Nashville operations housed in SIFE space on Belmont’s campus, fashionABLE empowers these Ethiopians by allowing them to make and dye scarves that are sold across the United States. With Belmont SIFE’s assistance, fashionABLE doubled its annual revenue to $333,000 and increased its retail outlet presence from 70 to 254 outlets.

• Conceptualized by Belmont SIFE member Andrew Bishop, PhilanthroTeach provides job readiness training for Nashville’s unemployed and economically disadvantaged citizens by matching their needs with the skills of local academic and business professionals. Through SIFE, PhilanthroTeach developed an eight-week skills program, created a formal operating and marketing plan, recruited a board of directors and obtained 501(c)3 status. To date, more than 500 Nashville residents have been trained through PhilanthroTeach programs.

In addition to competing, the Belmont students will have the chance to socialize with students from the other national champion teams at a Cultural Fair, as well as the opportunity to meet some of the world’s top business leaders. The SIFE World Cup website will feature live webcasts of several elements of the competition. Click here to view the complete schedule as well as live broadcast opportunities.

Belmont’s SIFE Team previously took third place in the 2010 SIFE World Cup.

About SIFE
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. Participating students form teams on their university campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. An annual series of regional and national competitions provides a forum for teams to present the results of their projects, and to be evaluated by business leaders serving as judges. National champion teams advance to the prestigious SIFE World Cup. In addition to the community aspect of the program, SIFE’s leadership and career initiatives create meaningful opportunities for learning and exchange among the participants as well as the placement of students and alumni with companies in search of emerging talent. More than 1,600 university teams in 39 countries subscribe to SIFE’s mission, which is to bring together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.