Stories & Commentaries

La Sierra University Enactus 2nd in Nation for Entrepreneurial Empowerment

prayer huddle

As is tradition, the La Sierra University Enactus presentation team huddles for prayer in the Kansas City Convention Center prior to competition. Photo by La Sierra University

La Sierra University’s Enactus team finished second in the nation on May 23, 2017, during the Enactus USA National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri, besting more than 450 teams around the country. The award was given in recognition of the team’s far-reaching entrepreneurial economic empowerment projects that impact underserved communities in India and in Riverside, California.

John Brown University in Arkansas was named national champion, while Roberts Wesleyan University of New York and Mount Mercy University in Iowa came in third and fourth, respectively.

La Sierra University also won a $3,000 Unilever Project Accelerator grant during the competition for starting a new project or improving an existing one.

“I am so proud of our Enactus students. They rose to the occasion with hard work, professionalism and dedication to the values of La Sierra University, the Zapara School of Business and the Enactus organization," said John Thomas, dean of the Zapara School of Business. “No matter the team's competitive placement, the students gave their all in top-notch presentations that raise the bar for other Enactus teams.”

The La Sierra University team entered the competition as the national champion, a recognition they won last May during Enactus nationals. The La Sierra team also won second place during the 2015 Enactus national event. La Sierra Enactus, formerly Students in Free Enterprise, has won the national title an unprecedented seven times during its 26-year history. The team won the world cup in New York City in 2007 and in Amsterdam in 2002.

La Sierra University president Randal Wisbey noted the team’s dedication to quality work and to making a difference in the world. “This team performed like professionals and delivered outstanding presentations that tell the story of the profound impact they and their teammates are making in the lives of thousands of people here in Riverside, and in India,” he said. “For these students to be recognized nationally is such a well-deserved honor for them. We are so proud of their mature conduct and the way they live out their faith in God and desire to help others.”

Attention to Detail

The Enactus exposition, which involved 106 regional winning teams from universities and colleges around the United States, kicked off Sun., May 21 with a Rally of Champions ceremony during which the La Sierra team carried in the trophy as the defending champions. The teams were divided into 16 leagues for opening round competition on Mon. May 22. Judges selected the final four contenders on May 23 who gave presentations immediately following semi-final rounds.

Teams gave 17-minute, multi-media presentations and answered questions of judges who serve as executives at some of the country’s leading corporations. Projects were detailed in business-style annual reports that were handed out to the judges.

La Sierra’s team presented projects they have developed in India and in the university’s hometown of Riverside. Altogether, the team’s projects this school year impacted 4,476 people through students’ time investment of 1,755 hours. Primary projects are included below.

India Field Stations

• An ongoing India Field Station project, initiated in Denkanikottai, India, several years ago, involves a cow bank micro-lending program that has increased the daily income of participating female day laborers from 100 to 600 percent. The laborers receive milk cows on loan from the team, sell milk to milk collection facilities through a guaranteed sales process, repay the loan, and ultimately buy the cow. The cow bank project thus far has benefitted 125 families with 25 new cow owners added this year. The team is expanding the project this year to a second India field station in Cheemaldari, India, a village outside of Hyderabad.

• The Denkanikottai field station also includes a tailoring school, begun in November 2015, which involves a six-month training program for women taught by a noted tailoring instructor. Graduates are offered a sewing machine microloan. The program has provided instruction for 21 tailors, including 11 participants this year, and has generated a 400 percent daily wage increase per participant.

• A two-phase energy generation project called Cow Power planned for the Cheemaldari field station utilizes cows from the cow bank and encompasses kinetic energy and biogas methods. The energy project is in prototype mode this year and will be developed with $250,000 and 15 acres of land invested for this and future projects at the field station.

• Following a research effort, a beekeeping micro-lending program for men was also piloted this year with the India field stations through a microloan of a kit complete with bees and necessary equipment for the cultivation of honey.

posing for photo

The La Sierra University Enactus team poses for an official photo during the Enactus USA National Exposition competition held May 21 – 23 at the Kansas City Convention Center. Left to right: Kendell Angeles (alum), Rosslynn Medina, Sharina Carruthers (alum), Ketsia Duval,Tiffany Brown, Maryanne Tekin, Joshua Montang, Surya Baraiya, James Landenberger, Eliza Hakobyan, Joe Rees, Michelle Tekin, Brandon Singh, Aaron Mailangkay, Suhail Nath, John Razzouk, and JoshuaRobinson. Photo by La Sierra University

R.E.A.L. Healthy

• The team’s R.E.A.L. Healthy umbrella program includes the Mobile Fresh project in Riverside, operated in partnership with Family Service Association. It continues its progress in bringing fresh, low-cost produce in renovated commuter buses to underserved communities. Four converted Mobile Fresh vehicles provide 25 stops per week in neighborhoods throughout Riverside, serving approximately 1,000 customers per month.

• The program includes education programs such as cooking demonstrations, children’s books, and an event hosting more than 200 farmers and food systems professionals on the La Sierra campus this year.

• This year, the Mobile Fresh vehicles and warehousing will be relocated to create a new hub for health education projects in Riverside. The hub will also serve as a grocery store with spaces for local farmers to sell produce, and a kitchen for cooking demonstrations.

An Amazing Finish

The La Sierra team is comprised of a group of students who are assigned responsibilities for each project. A six-member presentation team describes the projects during competitions. “I prioritize preparation for each and every round with my team,” said La Sierra Enactus presentation team member and senior accounting major Joe Rees, who joined Enactus four years ago. He was also a member of last year’s national championship-winning team.

“There's a feeling among the presentation team that you are in the trenches together during the competition. It's an amazing feeling you can't get outside of the presentation team," said Rees. "To feel that one last time, as well as the adrenaline you get on each stage throughout the competition, was an amazing way to close out four years.”

Ketsia Duval, a 19-year-old freshman Global Studies major from Florida, described her first-year experience with Enactus as a “golden egg” of opportunities, including the opportunity to grow in maturity, integrity, and honor. The national competition proved an eye-opening experience, she said, in part because she was surrounded by students who are accomplishing so much. “I’ve kind of fallen in love with Enactus,” said Duval.

Enactus, an international nonprofit based in Springfield, Missouri, had 457 university and college-based teams active as of August 2016, and more than 16,000 students participating in its U.S. division. More than 72,000 students participate in 36 countries worldwide. The organization began in 1975 as SIFE, or Students in Free Enterprise and changed its name in 2012 to Enactus. Its partners and donors include Walmart, KPMG, Unilever, Ford, AIG, Coca-Cola, Hershey, and many other companies.