Representing Kansas City in China

Enactus students gain personal growth, business possibilities

A fifth trip to China for UMKC Enactus students resulted in personal growth and possible business opportunities for the City of Kansas City, Mo.

The global marketplace is an integral part of strategic planning for U.S. cities and universities. The City of Kansas City, Mo., and UMKC recognize the need to attract both business opportunities and the brightest students from around the world. The result: a collaboration that includes UMKC Enactus students.

The six students and four UMKC faculty and staff members partnered on economic development activities with the City. They were joined by Councilman Scott Wagner, who represents the 1st District At-Large.

A “China Project Debriefing” will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 at the Kauffman Conference Center, led by Cary Clark, Enactus advisor and Sam Walton Fellow at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and the Enactus China Project Team.

Since it began in spring 2010, UMKC Enactus (previously known as SIFE) students have made presentations at numerous universities, including Beijing University, in several cities in China and have been featured on nationwide Chinese television. Based on relationships they had developed in China and on their recognition, the Enactus students were eventually asked to represent the City in the presentations.

During the most recent trip, the students made presentations on “American Business Practices and Doing Business in Kansas City” to five universities in Changsha, Xi’an and Beijing, as well as to the Changsha Federation of Industry & Commerce (Chamber of Commerce). Changsha is the capital and largest city of Hunan Province in south-central China.

As a result of the trips, 17 inquiries were received to conduct business in Kansas City, which were given to the City Council for follow-up. And, at least one Chinese business has visited Kansas City and is expressing interest in opening two businesses. Business inquiries received during the last trip are currently being summarized to present to the City.

“The highlight of the trip was definitely interacting with the students from the Chinese universities. I’m so thankful for the opportunities given to us by UMKC to build these relationships that will impact the whole city,” said UMKC senior and Enactus member Elaine Eason. “I’ve never been in a situation where I stood out as an outsider as much as in China – but our hosts were generous and welcoming beyond belief. The ties formed with the students have made me more aware of, and empathetic to, the experiences of exchange students here at UMKC.”

“The vice chairman of the chamber provided the take-away remarks,” said Clark. “He said that the Enactus students and the quality of their presentation show that the Henry W. Bloch School of Management produces entrepreneurs of the future.”

“Before joining Enactus, I would never have envisioned traveling across the world to represent my school, city and country in such a major way,” said Darion Gatson, an Enactus member. “Travelling to China with Councilman Wagner and UMKC Enactus has opened my eyes to the multitude of opportunities that are becoming available through UMKC and Enactus. China was an amazing experience, and I grew a lot as a public speaker, business student and as a person overall.”

Gatson is majoring in electrical engineering.

Future goals for this project are to continue to market the Kansas City brand to present and future Chinese business leaders and to market the University of Missouri-Kansas City to prospective Chinese students. Meetings are scheduled to discuss further relationships with cities in Central China, with Xi’an and Changsha as a primary focus.

About Enactus:  Enactus is an international organization, with teams in 36 countries and 1,600 universities that connects student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities. For additional information, visit UMKC Enactus is a Strategic Initiative of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. For information on the UMKC Enactus, visit

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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