Students will now represent United States at SIFE World Cup, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Washington, D.C.
For the second time in three years, the Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team won the national championship at the SIFE USA National Exposition, which was held this week in Kansas City. Belmont’s SIFE team will now represent the United States at the international SIFE World Cup competition Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is already confirmed to host the event. Belmont’s SIFE Team previously took third place in the 2010 SIFE World Cup.
Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “This is a really, really big deal. The work our SIFE team does in the community and around the world fills me with pride as these students are using their talents and skills to make a positive difference for others. I am pleased, but certainly not surprised, that the work of these students and their faculty sponsors has earned this national prize.”
Thursday night’s top place finish places Belmont as the No. 1 team out of nearly 600 teams nationwide and the best of the 156 teams who competed in the National Exposition. Click here to view the team’s winning presentation and the question and answer session with the judges. Belmont SIFE was selected to go to nationals after a seventh consecutive year winning as regional champions. With the tagline “A head for business, a heart for the world,” SIFE is an international non-profit organization that mobilizes students around the world to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.
In addition to winning the national championship, the Belmont team also won second place in a competition sponsored by Sam’s Club—the $4,000 cash prize will go to purchase equipment for Spring Back Recycling, a nonprofit business the students helped start last year.
Belmont faculty members Dr. John Gonas, Dr. Jason Stahl, Nathan Adam and Cate Loes serve as Sam Walton Fellows and SIFE team faculty advisers. Gonas said, “Belmont SIFE students continue to demonstrate that they have the ability to create and apply complex business models to lasting social change. These models are not only sustainable, but are also economically profitable and even scalable. I am honored and blessed to help steward these young men and women who tirelessly take what they’re learning in the classroom and give it away. We look forward to attending the 2012 World Cup, hosted by Secretary of State Clinton and the U.S. State Department, to share best practices and our innovative social enterprises with students and top industry leaders from 39 different countries.”
College of Business Administration Dean Patrick Raines, who in 2009 was named the “Most Supportive Dean of the Year” at the National Expo, added, “For our team to be selected as the best out of the 156 teams competing in the SIFE National Exposition is gratifying, but to be the representative of the United States in world competition for two out of the past three years is an extraordinary feat. The poise and professionalism with which our team presented the results of their projects in front of 4,000 people was beyond impressive; it was inspirational. Through their SIFE projects, Belmont students are engaging and transforming the world.”
During the 2011-12 academic year, the Belmont University SIFE team focused on 10 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.
A few examples of the Belmont SIFE’s team projects are as follows:
• Developed the concept and business plan to start Spring Back Recycling (a nonprofit business partnership with Belmont Church), which employs formerly homeless or incarcerated workers in recycling mattresses, giving them an opportunity for new life while also disassembling old mattresses. Spring Back recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and continues to gain momentum and national media interest. To date 9,600 mattresses and 340,000 pounds of metal, foam and cotton have been recycled (enough to cover an NFL football field six times). 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 to recycle this fall. Plans are also in the works for this sustainable business to be duplicated in markets in Colorado and Missouri.
• 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 $198,000 and increased its retail outlet presence from 70 to 193.
• 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 450 Nashville residents have been trained through PhilanthroTeach programs.
SIFE is an international non-profit active with more than 1,600 university teams in 39 countries. SIFE Teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, personal and financial success skills, sustainability and business ethics.