The Graceland SIFE team was successful Monday, April 16 at their Regional Competition in Chicago (one of 11 such regional events held around the country) and they have advanced for the 12th consecutive year to the SIFE USA National Exposition. Nationals will be held May 22-24 in Kansas City.
The Graceland team emerged as number one in their league. Our team also won three special awards: teams with more than 1,000 student-work hours on projects – Graceland students put in 5,000 hours; teams with more than 44 student members – our team this year has 60 students; teams are rating with many criteria and ranked from 0-5 overall…teams with a 4 rating or above win special awards – Graceland scored a 5.
Jeffrey McElroy, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at GU, reported quickly from Chicago Monday that our presentation team did a good job of getting the Graceland SIFE story told. McElroy, who also assists with the SIFE team, said the competition from other colleges and universities was tough this year. He said, “The outcome shows that we are a good team doing the right stuff.”
McElroy and Justin Akers, GU SIFE Director, and Director of the Sandage Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, were delighted with Graceland’s showing.
“I am always proud to see our SIFE students present in front of large audiences and this year was no different,” according to Justin. “Our entire team worked hard this year and our presentation team made Graceland stand out in the crowd.”
Please join all Gracelanders in congratulating members of the 2011-2012 GU SIFE team and wish them luck for the upcoming national competition.
Graceland SIFE Team Hopeful to Clinch 12th Consecutive Nationals Berth
By Joe Oxley
Graceland Media Assistant
It’s that time of year again: Graceland SIFE season.
The Graceland SIFE team is adding the finishing touches to its written report and oral presentation as it prepares for this year’s regional competition, April 16th in Chicago at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
At the competition, a panel of judges will weigh Graceland’s outreach projects against the projects of other universities. After determining which SIFE team has been most effective and impactful for those in need, the panel will select a winner to advance to the National SIFE competition May 22-24th in Kansas City.
And when it comes to Regionals, Graceland is well known—they’ve advanced from the competition for 11 consecutive years. With their reputation preceding them, this year’s diverse SIFE team has adopted a fresh strategy to trump the competition: change and innovate. Justin Akers, Director of the Sandage Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, says that this year is going to be different than any presentation the team has given in the past.
“It’s exciting and it’s also a little scary. We’ve got strong projects, strong presenters, and if we can showcase our results, we will advance to Nationals,” said Justin.
SIFE’s written and oral presentations will be centered on their local and international work.
Akers is hopeful that the team’s work, both near and far, will be enough to wow the judges for a 12th year.
SIFE’s Local Projects: Making a Difference in Lamoni
SIFE’s local work has centered on helping Lamoni’s entrepreneurs and businesses. During their outreach efforts this year, the team has worked to help both individual business owners and the city’s businesses as a whole.
To start, the team compiled a digital directory of local businesses, including everything from basic contact information to menus and logos. The directory has been converted into an iPhone application and a smart phone friendly website. Putting this valuable business information into the pockets of students, Lamoni residents, and campus visitors, the Local Efforts team hopes to empower businesses to reach new customers.
The team also partnered with the City of Lamoni to host the Winter Farmer’s Market. A common misconception of farmer’s markets is that they only sell vegetables and thus only operate during warmer months. However, for the craft makers, beekeepers, musicians, artisans, and other vendors like Debbie Kepple-Mamros, who operates the candy store Bonbons out of her home, their products are not seasonal.
Recognizing this problem the SIFE team and the City of Lamoni made it possible for the market to stay open during the winter months. With less than two hundred dollars invested in rental fees and advertising the vendors generated over $2,000 in gross income in about three hours. The market brought in over 200 participants, about 50 of which were Graceland students.
On the individual level, the team worked with business owner Jon Hampton ’88 and his hometown restaurant Pizza Shack. After compiling a Graceland student survey, the team discovered over half the student body hadn’t sampled the local eatery, and many were unaware of the Shack’s daily specials. The team worked to develop stronger marketing techniques, a cost analysis program, and worked to increase employee accountability. Implementing the new techniques, Jon was able to increase Pizza Shack’s profits by more than twenty percent in one week.
SIFE’s Projects Abroad: Collaborating for Zambia and The Philippines
As some member of SIFE worked just around the corner, other’s boarded airplanes bound for Southeast Asia and Africa. Last January Graceland SIFE and the university’s affiliate HealthED Connect, co-founded by Sherri ’65 and Jac Kirkpatrick ’62, traveled back to Zambia to monitor and improve past projects. In the villages of Kasompe and Chipulukusu the team continued their Income Generating Activities (IGA) and also moved their efforts to a new village, Zamtan.
In Kasompe and Chipulukusu students checked in on their IGA Bike Program. The program is based off bicycle generators, which create enough energy to power small electronics. The revenue from this project goes back to area schools to benefit local students. The team found that Chipulukusu villagers used the Bike Program’s capital to implement a student meal plan, which had increased growth and nutrition for the village’s children.
GU SIFE also made a stop in the Philippines in collaboration with Outreach International. This project was to benefit The Kapagena Federation, a cohesive group consisting of four local Philippine communities. SIFE hoped to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to Outreach’s Participatory Human Development Process (PHDP), a system designed to encourage and empower those in poverty to find their own solutions to community problems.
The team, in partnership with the local community, surmised that income during the “lean months”, a four month period when rice cannot grow or be harvested due to weather patterns, was the community’s largest struggle. To generate income during these months, land for raising hogs, pigs, and farming alternative crops is necessary. SIFE and Outreach International agreed to allocate funds to loan to the Federation for the purchase of one half hector of land, fencing, and two water pumps.
Chicago Bound: Presenting Their Work
After implementing these successful projects, SIFE newest challenge is present them to their judging panel. This year’s SIFE presentation team includes Brady Blankenship ‘12, Lynley Closson ‘15, Taylor Johnson ‘12, Mario Pecina ‘13, Ethan Pitt ‘14, and Matt Waite ‘12. With senior leadership that includes Waite and Johnson, both previous presenters, the team hopes to represent the larger group’s collaborative efforts this year in a winning way.
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