Belmont Enactus/SIFE students claimed top prize at international entrepreneurship competition; Metro Council passes resolution to honor team
The Belmont campus community and the city of Nashville joined together today to honor a few of its best and brightest, a team of Belmont University students who won an international entrepreneurship competition earlier this month in Washington, D.C. Click here for photos from today’s pep rally. Click here for a video of Mayor Dean and Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore.
Belmont’s Enactus team (formerly known as SIFE or Students in Free Enterprise) beat out the national champions of 37 other countries to win the Enactus World Cup in early October. Six members of the team offered a flawless presentation in front of a room full of business leaders and responded to questions from judges on their team’s 14 community outreach projects from the past year. Enactus Worldwide 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.
Today’s celebration brought out the Belmont campus and community partners as well as local, state and national dignitaries to honor the team on all of its accomplishments, including Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Schulz, Tractor Supply Director of Store Marketing Lisa White and Enactus Vice President of United States Programs Jennifer Orban. Nashville’s Metro Council went on record “congratulating the Belmont University Enactus Team for winning the 2012 Enactus World Cup and thanking them for the positive influence they have had on the lives of people living in the Nashville Metro community,” proclaiming Oct. 19, 2012 as Belmont Enactus World Championship Day. Click here for a video of Dean and Gilmore.
Mayor Karl Dean said, “This is a big deal. You have successfully mastered teamwork, community mindedness and entrepreneurial spirit for something that improves our entire community. On behalf of the citizens of Nashville, congratulations on what you have accomplished. You make all of us so proud.”
“What a remarkable achievement this is,” said Belmont President Bob Fisher. “We are representing 600 schools that also competed in this country and also representing the United States.”
Once a year, the national champion Enactus teams from around the world meet at the Enactus World Cup where they present the results of their community outreach projects to a prestigious group of international business leaders. Through a written annual report and live audio visual presentation, teams are evaluated based on how successful they were at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. The 2012 Enactus World Cup was held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., and the event was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of State. Other top four competitors included India (HR College of Commerce and Economics), Zimbabwe (Midlands State University) and second place finishers Egypt (French University).
Alvin Rohrs, president and chief executive officer of Enactus Worldwide, said, “I feel great pride for what the Belmont team did… The only thing better than their presentation and their projects this year is how they’ve shown the character they have in how they relate to everyone else. I think that speaks a lot about the University and the caliber of these leaders.”
During the 2011-12 academic year, Belmont Enactus focused on 14 projects to benefit the local and global communities. They addressed issues including job skills training, small business development and environmental sustainability. The students spent 2,442 volunteer hours developing and completing their projects. In addition, the 42 team members are involved in many other organizations and represent a variety of majors across campus.
As the group’s flagship project, Belmont 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 negotiating licensing opportunities in five cities. The organization’s second licensee, Spring Back Colorado, opened in August.
Other examples of the Belmont Enactus team projects include:
• Provided business and financial plans to fashionABLE, which works with women from Ethiopia whose former source of income was prostitution. With Nashville operations housed in 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 Enactus assistance, fashionABLE now employs 25 women, has doubled its annual revenue to $333,000 and increased its retail outlet presence from 70 to 254 outlets.
• Conceptualized by team 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 Belmont Enactus, 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.
This is the second time in three years that Belmont’s team has won the U.S. national championship, placing the group as the No. 1 team out of nearly 600 teams in the U.S. Belmont’s team previously took third place in the 2010 SIFE World Cup.
Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Guided by academic advisers and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world.