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Enactus sparks local and worldwide change through entrepreneurship

Posted: May 30, 2014

2014-05-30EnactusTeam

Dr. Lynda Allen, faculty sponsor, with Olivet's Enactus leadership team for 2013-2014 (L-R): Brandon Juodikis, Hannah Reister, Allison Walsh, Matt Ryan, Alex Blakeley, Sydney Young, Zach Ruddle

Every fall since 1989, a group of students gathers for the first time under a common mission: to change the world. By spring, the students have transitioned to skilled and refined leaders whose influence is felt as far away as Africa and as nearby as Olivet’s campus.

This group of students is an offshoot in a worldwide movement known as Enactus (formerly SIFE, Students in Free Enterprise), which stretches across 36 countries and includes over 1,600 universities. At its core, Enactus is simple — students use creativity and innovation to develop and implement community projects that will empower others.

“Enactus is what you make it,” says Allison Walsh '14, who served as co-president of Olivet’s Enactus for the 2013-2014 academic year. “You have as much opportunity as the work you put in.”

#WeAllWin

Each spring, Enactus teams from across the country gather for regional and national competitions. This year, Olivet's Enactus placed in the top 50 teams at U.S. Nationals.

Competition is an energizing environment that provides teams with accountability and motivation. “When we compete to improve lives, we all win,” the Enactus website says.

Teams prepare oral and visual presentations on their work from the year and are evaluated by executives on strength of their projects. A national champion is named at the end of the event to represent the country at the Enactus World Cup in the fall.

“Competition really opened my eyes to how much work is being done through Enactus,” says Brandon Juodikis '14, co-president with Allison and 2014 competition presenter.

Community living

This year, Olivet's Enactus focused on sparking chain reactions of positive change in its community. The team began with its backyard — Olivet’s campus — by providing students with a personal finance seminar for the third consecutive year, and launching its second year of Suit Up, a mock interview event. Suit Up was also expanded to include résumé building guidance, LinkedIn training and interview skills coaching.

The Enactus team also reached into its neighborhood. Team members helped local entrepreneurs advance their small businesses and taught computer and personal finance classes to inmates in the Jerome Combs Correctional Facility. And this spring, five Enactus members “ventured across town” as part of Olivet’s Missions In Action trip to Swaziland, Africa, where they launched a sewing project to create a source of income for women in the country.

“Each year, I am blessed to watch students develop meaningful projects in our community,” Dr. Lynda Allen '82/'88 MBA, business professor and Enactus faculty sponsor, says. “Enactus provides a unique opportunity for students to use their passions to change lives through entrepreneurship.”

Building for the future

Continuing its 25-year history, Olivet's Enactus is still growing. The team recently named two new co-presidents for fall 2014: juniors Alex Blakeley (Warren, Pennsylvania) and Rebecca Crane (Danville, Indiana). They are ambitious about taking the team to the next level.

“We want to see Enactus expand,” Rebecca adds. “We hope to strengthen the team with people from more majors and reach more people beyond our student body.”
 
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Acres of Olivet's beautiful, park-like campus in Bourbonnais, Ill.