At a special event held at the Kauffman Foundation on October 30, 2012, the UMKC Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team made an announcement that surprised the audience.
The event, which is held annually after the team’s yearly trip to China, served as both a debriefing about the China trip as well as a forum for the team’s unexpected announcement.
Guest speakers, including Councilman Scott Wagner, Vice President John Phillips of the Edgar Snow Foundation, Dean Teng-Kee Tan of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton kicked off the program.
Since 2009, the multidisciplinary SIFE team has taken its entrepreneurial skills to China, where they have helped Chinese students interested in studying in the U.S. learn about the culture and education process.
This year, the team was invited to join the City of Kansas City in helping market business opportunities with Kansas City businesses overseas. The team’s expertise and connections with future Chinese leaders made them a natural partner for the City.
The opportunity for this partnership came when invitations were received by both parties from the Edgar Snow Foundation. This foundation, named after the historic Kansas City journalist who is considered the first westerner to open the doors to China, invited both to their 15th Symposium, “The People-to-People Exchange: Innovation, Friendship, Harmony”. It was held on the campus of Beijing University.
While there, the students provided forums on “American Business Practices and Culture” to students at three top Chinese universities. At each forum, interest in doing business in Kansas City generated inquiries for the city to send information.
The highlight at last night’s event, however, came with an unusual announcement from SIFE Advisor and Sam Walton Fellow Cary Clark. Clark took the podium and stated “Effective immediately, there will no longer be a SIFE Team at UMKC!” For effect, he removed the SIFE pin from his suit coat lapel.
Immediately following a somewhat confused reaction from the audience came a Power Point slide with a logo featuring the word Enactus.
What does it all mean? Clark tells the story.
“Over the past seven years, UMKC SIFE has become a well-recognized name in our community. Team successes and awards have allowed UMKC SIFE to be a well- recognized name nationally and internationally. Throughout the years Students in Free Enterprise seemed to be an appropriate name for this U.S.-focused program”, Clark explained.
Clark went on to explain that with today’s global economy, SIFE had become a world-wide program, with teams at universities in 38 countries.
Recognition of this global status brought about a worldwide strategic review to see how well the core philosophies were being reflected in the SIFE name and brand.
This review yielded that the students had a clear view of their sense of purpose and how human progress depends on their ability to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and abilities.
However, the consensus was that the SIFE name and brand did not effectively express this to the general public on a global basis, and the name did not translate well in all cultures.
This presented a challenge to change the name to better reflect the purpose and values that make the organization so unique – a change that would not reflect a change in focus, but a renewed commitment to entrepreneurial action and a renewed commitment to enabling progress around the world.
Therefore, SIFE will now be known under a new name: Enactus.
“Enactus articulates entrepreneurship, action, and commitment from a worldwide collection of students,” Clark said. “It is a name that proactively articulates the core values of the organization. It is a name that has a shared meaning around the world.”
Beginning immediately, UMKC Enactus students will embark upon a very aggressive marketing and re-branding program on-campus and throughout the city.
Clark asked the Kansas City community to help support the students by word of mouth and helping spread the word and mission through organizational publications or any type of communications.
Enactus Fast Facts:
Years on the UMKC campus: 7
Number of students on team in 2007: 12
Number of students on the team today: 96
Disciplines represented: 9
Regional Championships: Five in a row, since 2008
Trips to China: 4
What Enactus Members Think of Their New Name
“This is a very positive thing for our team. We are committed to using this change as a catalyst to reach more students, educators and business people so that they can work together to expand our contributions to the Kansas City community.”
Katrina Lapine – President
“We believe in the power of entrepreneurial action to enable progress around the world and feel a sincere obligation to live up to our own potential. This is not a reinvention. This is a catalyst for innovative change. That’s what our team is all about.”
Jake Ortner – Vice President
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our team to apply the knowledge we have gained in the classroom and create a major re-branding program for our team both on-campus and throughout the city. “
Amanda Argo – Director of Events