Business students accept the SIFE challenge

The University of Arizona Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was named United States National Champion in the four-year division at the SIFE USA National Exposition competition held in Chicago May 13- 15th. Arizona SIFE team members will represent the USA at the SIFE World Cup in Singapore this October. Blue Ridge Community College was victorious in the two-year division. Over 3,200 business students from more than 140 SIFE teams participated in the national competition.

SIFE is a network of global business and higher education professionals that focuses on developing the potential of university students preparing for leadership roles in business. More than 30,000 students worldwide participate in SIFE which is supported by hundreds of leading companies.

Student SIFE teams, led by faculty advisors, organize outreach projects in their communities that promote free enterprise, financial literacy and business ethics. Each college team participating in the competition presents a written annual report and live audio-visual presentation demonstrating the results of their community outreach projects to panels of business leaders who act as judges at both the regional and national level.

Student projects were evaluated based on how successful they were at measuring and demonstrating that they created economic opportunity by helping others understand the long-term success and prosperity of a market economy, businesses and individuals. Teams were also required to demonstrate their strategy for the long-term sustainability of both their team and educational programs.

The topics for the 2008 SIFE USA competition were:

  • Clorox Market Economics Competition
  • Discover Financial Services Success Skills Competition
  • SAM’S CLUB Entrepreneurship Competition
  • HSBC Financial Literacy Competition
  • Campbell’s and Sealed Air Business Ethics Competition
  • GE Program Sustainability Competition

Central Texas College (CTC) teams which have placed fourth in the national competition for three of the last four years, reach out to elementary and high school students. The CTC teams concentrated on money management this year, with a continuing emphasis on teaching the principles and values of the free enterprise system, CTC’s SIFE president said, according to the Kileen Daily Herald. The CTC team teaches via seminars in elementary and secondary schools and colleges, and through examples set by community involvement. In classroom presentations, the team tests students for knowledge gained on the spot and returns to check for knowledge retained several months later.

Illinois Valley Community College’s SIFE team hosted an accounting contest for high school students on the main campus in April. Twenty three students from four high schools participated. “The accounting contest was a great success. Hopefully, next year there will be even more students from additional schools participating,” says IVCC accounting professor, Susan Koepke, webtimes reports.

Other teams support entrepreneurial ventures. Local leaders from West Augustine, Florida approached the SIFE team of Flagler College and asked them to develop a project that would help revive their community. The SIFE team decided to establish a community marketplace, the Westside Market, which now regularly attracts more than 500 customers and has a vendor base of 25 local residents. The Flagler team continues to meet with vendors each week to review their sales and make recommendations for improvement, SIFE’s Web site reports.

Wal-Mart been a leading supporter of SIFE for more than 20 years and along with other corporate sponsors, including Campbell’s and AIG, Fortune magazine reports, hires SIFE participants upon graduation. The Wal-Mart Foundation has created the Sam Walton Fellowships, which provide financial support to hundreds of faculty advisors in the U.S.

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