Saturday, 6 October 2012

ENACTUS Sussex, here we come!

What is Enactus, I hear you ask. Well, basically the same answer to the queston 'What is SIFE?' Until Sunday 30 September 2012 where the new name was announced at the Opening Ceremony of the Enactus World Cup in Washington D.C., Enactus had been known as SIFE since the organisation's inception in 1975 by its founder, Jack Shewmaker. With new criteria and a much different approach taken by students than initially intended, it was time for the name and logo to reflect our work in a meaningful way.

What is Enactus?
Enactus is a global, not-for-profit organisation that works with business and university leaders to assist university students in setting up their own Enactus teams to make a difference in their communities. Students use an entrepreneurial approach to solve the problems and answer the needs of groups in communities by teaching them skills that enable them to improve their quality of life and standard of living in a sustainable way. This is usually a mixture of soft and practical skills, but is hugely dependent on the needs of the group that the Enactus team are working with. 

What does 'Enactus' mean?SIFE had stood for 'Students in Free Enterprise' but it was held to be outdated and inaccurate in representing what SIFE students stand for and work towards in the twenty-first century. Personally, I'm attached to the name SIFE because that's all I've ever known, but I'm not adverse to the change.

The tagline being 'Entrepreneurial action for the greater good'

Who are we?
We're thousands of university students around the world who are all passionate about social enterprise and working together to produce results that can help individuals and communities empower themselves. Enactus operates in thirty-nine countries and the UK alone has fifty-one Enactus teams with a further fifteen on the waiting list, wanting to set up their own teams.

What are Enactus' goals?
All Enactus projects must fit a single criterion that is the basis for the judging criteria at regional, national and international competitions:
Considering the relevant economic, social and environmental factors, which Enactus team most effectively empowered people in need by applying business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach to improve their quality of life and standard of living?
What does Enactus Sussex do?
Enactus Sussex is in it's sixth year of existence and we are a medium-sized team with around sixty members. We run three social projects (with another in the planning stages), a consultancy project and a commercial project. We have reached National Competitions for three years in a row.

Social Projects:
  1. Community Opportunity works with the Samalani Orphan Care and Youth Organisation (SOCAYO) in Malawi to teach the youths vocational and business skills to run their own co-operative shop that will allow them to become financially independent.
  2. Chiwa is based in Pueblo, Mexico and works with a group of indigenous mothers to help them increase their income and the prospects of their children by teaching them jewellery-making and business knowledge to set up their own business.
  3. Step Off the Streets (SOS) is partnered with a local Brighton charity, Friends First to empower a group of homeless to start and operate their own social enterprise.
Consultancy - this project is still in the planning stages and aims to work with Brighton charities to improve their presence in the area to ultimately increase their income and impact.

Commercial Project: Miyala Jewellery - Miyala sources donations of broken or unsold jewellery from major high-street retailers such as ASOS and Icon Live that would otherwise be sent to landfill. We break these materials down and produce our own, handmade and unique pieces to sell on campus and around Brighton. All profits are fed back into our social projects.

Like I said, I am very attached to the name SIFE. Yes, it's typically 1970s and 'Students in Free Enterprise' in no way reflects the nature of the work of SIFE students, but it's what I've come to know and what I've come to be addicted to. I'm also ridiculously fond of the tagline: 'A Head for Business. A Heart for the World.' SIFE for life!

I was more than a little dubious when I first heard the new name. I was a little obsessed about watching the World Cup 2012 (Opening Ceremony, First Round Awards Ceremony, Semi-Finals Awards Ceremony, Final Rounds, Final Round Awards Ceremony - you name it, I watched it) and I got very caught up in the whole World Cup atmosphere, despite never having been to even Regionals. We were never going to get a real word that accurately described what we do and I knew that it wouldn't be another acronym; I just wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't expecting Enactus. That said, I'm slowly growing fond of it. It's going to take a while to stop saying SIFE and start saying Enactus naturally (too many syllables!) but I do like the focus on entrepreneurship and collective action. I'd like to know what the yellow origami thing symbolises, but that's just my finickety nature. Also, awesome colour scheme.

I'd like to think that Enactus gains greater global and UK recognition for our work than was the case with SIFE. The list of global partners is immense, but certainly at Sussex, most people had never even heard of SIFE, let alone what we do. We're going to try and change this. A re-branding will help, as will the shift from 'free enterprise' to 'entrepreneurship,' but our marketing team will still have a huge task ahead of them. Here's hoping that this year will be a great one for Enactus Sussex!

Enactus Worldwide website, SIFE UK website, SIFE Sussex minisite.

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