Enactus is an international organization that brings students together through entrepreneurship. The name Enactus is a combination of the words entrepreneurial, action and us. Enactus members aim to gain valuable entrepreneurship skills by helping the community.
“Enactus is a program that does great things for the community by using business principles and applications,” said Cary Clark, advisor for Enactus.
Previously known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Enactus has been an active organization at UMKC for many years.
Enactus members throughout the U.S. prepare for an annual competition, in which 35 other countries also compete.
“They put together a corporate-level presentation—one with audio and visuals. It takes about 70 hours of practice,” Clark said.
These presentations are shown at the competitions. The competition is judged on the number of lives impacted by each chapter of Enactus.The presentations include events that the Enactus teams have been working on throughout the year. The teams can choose to explain their contributions to the community in ways that they believe are most effective. UMKC students tend to explain a few of their best projects in detail. This has put UMKC in the top positions for advancing to the international competition.
“It comes down to which team improved their livelihoods socially, environmentally or economically,” said Ben Williams, Associate Director of UMKC’s Global Entrepreneurship department.
The core goal of Enactus is to solve a need sustainably. The group strives to impact individuals not just for a moment, but forever. Teams are judged based on the levels of impact they make through their projects.
Along with entrepreneurial projects, UMKC Enactus is a part of Gillis, Cornerstones of Care and other non-profit organizations.
In a previous project, Enactus set up a sewing school in Ghana by sending 14 sewing machines there. The school has graduated four classes of students since its inception.
Enactus is promoting an on-going project concerning a plant called kenaf.
“Kenaf is a bamboo-like plant that has a pulpy substance that has various practical applications,” said Enactus member Darion Gatson-McDaniel.
The team is researching different ways the plant can be used in everyday life. Some team members have surveyed local mechanics about how much oil spillage they have. They discussed how they clean up this oil and then mentioned that kenaf can soak up oil naturally. This oil-soaked kenaf can then be used as fertilizer.
Enactus recently went to China. The students went to six universities in the central cities of Xi’an, Kansas City’s sister city, and Changsha. These cities were chosen because of their similarities to Kansas City.
The largest school the group visited in the most recent trip was Changsha University, which has about 100,000 students. One of their projects is to market the city of Changsha.
“[This project included] two specific impacts: the economic impact and the social impact,” said Gatson, who traveled to China with the group. “One of [the] primary missions that we had going over there was to educate the Chinese students and business leaders about American business practices,” Gatson said.
Kansas City Councilman Scott Wagner joined the students on the trip.
“He [Wagner] had presentations on the up-and-coming sectors that we have in Kansas City. [This] would pretty much be engineering and architecture, logistics and distribution, and animal health,” Gatson said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that Kansas City has the largest concentration of the animal health industry in the world.”
Changsha University collaborated with The Changsha Federation of Industry and Commerce to advertise the arrival of UMKC students.
“The Changsha Federation of Industry and Commerce invited 12 different CEOs and business leaders from various companies based on Councilman Wagner’s request for animal health, engineering, and logistics and distribution,” Williams said. “They gladly came and heard everything that we had to say about why Kansas City is great.”
The group persuaded Changsha and Xi’an to do business with Kansas City since they have similar issues regarding business. Each city is centrally located within its country’s geographical boundaries and lacks large shipping ports (like a coastal city would have) that could attract businesses. Enactus brought back 140 business inquiries that they have turned over to the city council. After this year, a delegation from China is expected to arrive at UMKC to see what type of training programs UMKC can provide to business leaders in China.
To prepare for this trip, the students did a lot of research and were quizzed on their findings.
“They were well prepared, they were very professional, they represented UMKC and the city of Kansas City wonderfully,” Clark said. “This is our signature project; one that will continue every year.”