Enactus team advances to national semifinals
The Enactus team from the University of Missouri-Kansas City is seeking a national championship in their entrepreneurial competition during the Enactus United States National Exposition at the Kansas City Convention Center May 21-23.
During the first day of competition on May 22, the UMKC team advanced to the national semifinals. The team qualified for the national competition by winning the regional competition in Garden Grove, California, in April. This is the fifth consecutive year the team has qualified for the national competition; UMKC was a national semifinalist in 2016.
Enactus is a global organization for college students who volunteer to develop projects that create positive change through entrepreneurial action. Students describe their projects in multi-media presentations for the competition. The winner of the competition will qualify for the international competition in London this September.
More than 2,000 students, representing more than 100 U.S. colleges, are expected at the Kansas City expo.
About 80 UMKC students have contributed to the six successful projects that the students describe in their presentation, said Ben Williams, J.D., MBA, Assistant Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the UMKC Bloch School of Management. Williams serves as an adviser/coach to the Enactus team under the formal title of Sam Walton Fellow.
“The team identifies needs in the community, and creates solutions to those needs that are sustainable,” Williams said. “They don’t get paid, and they don’t get a grade. It’s purely volunteer work.”
Collectively, the students put in hundreds of hours to create the projects and prepare their presentation for competition. Much of the work is done in early morning sessions starting as early as 7 a.m. The major benefit for students is deep immersion in project-based experiential learning, he said, a fantastic resume-builder and long-term career asset.
While the team is headquartered at the Bloch School, it draws students from across campus, an example of how UMKC emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation campus-wide. The UMKC students on the six-person presentation team are:
- Megan Darnell, an MBA student at the Bloch School
- Chad Feather, a senior majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship
- Anthony Gilyard, a sophomore Management major
- Emily McIntyre, a sophomore majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship
- Dennis Mowry, a senior Pharmacy major
- Kellen Sheil, a senior Marketing major
Alternates are Tielyr Creason, a junior Chemistry major; and Jay Patel, a freshman Finance major. Meghan Fuller, a junior Psychology major, served as lead visual designer for the presentation.
For this year’s competition, the UMKC team’s projects are all built on the concept of human-centered design. They range from raising funds for and managing construction of a solar-powered well at a school in rural Nigeria, to conducting entrepreneurial workshops and helping create business plans for self-employed artists in Kansas City.
Another of the projects, now in its seventh year, assists the city government of Kansas City in promoting international trade with China. Over the seven years, Enactus team members from UMKC have conducted presentations on entrepreneurial business practices for both students and business leaders in China; and worked with city staff and city council members to launch a multi-million-dollar trade agreement between the city of Changsha and Kansas City. The activity helped convince the owners of Changsha High Tech Park to offer three years of free office space, worth $70,000, for three Kansas City companies. This year, the team is planning and promoting a trade summit that will bring several Chinese companies to Kansas City for presentations and discussions later this year,
Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, who has traveled to China with Enactus members several times, spoke at the team’s end-of-year celebration event at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center May 2.
“It was Enactus students who were explaining to people in Beijing what we do in Kansas City and why they should be involved with Kansas City,” Wagner said. “You make this city look really, really good. You represent this city, and your university, very, very well.”