A team of students from all 11 UMKC schools is building partnerships with a wide range of international groups, from Chinese tech giants to impoverished villages in Africa.
Since 2009, UMKC Enactus has paved the way for Kansas City entrepreneurship by focusing on building up the local community while engaging in global networking and humanitarian work.
According to President of UMKC Enactus Chad Feather, the group addresses problems in the local and global community with the goal of creating long-term, sustainable solutions.
UMKC Enactus is focusing on four main projects for this year’s Regional Enactus Competition, which the team has won for the past six years.
Arts and Entrepreneurship Project
Last year UMKC Enactus held workshops for local artists struggling to make money off their art. During the workshops, the team provided artists with entrepreneurial, financial and marketing skills and held a weeklong art gallery to expose their art to over 1,000 community members.
“We analyzed their work environment and saw an opportunity to give these artists an outlet for their artistic talents outside of their normal workspace,” said team member Kellen Sheil.
After the workshops, UMKC Enactus realized the artists still weren’t implementing the skills being taught. In 2016 the team linked up with the City Council of Kansas City and created a competition challenging local artists to create gifts that would represent Kansas City in international business meetings.
Earlier this year, the team hypothesized that bringing together the ideas from the workshop and the art projects could provide a long-term solution to the success of local artists. The team created a daylong event, bringing in experts to help local artists effectively market their work.
“During this event we walked 20 artists through the creation of their own artistic business plan,” said Sheil.
Wells Wishes Projects
When a UMKC staff member returned home to find that the Nigerian village he grew up in hadn’t changed much, UMKC Enactus knew they could help. The overall health and infrastructure of the community was poor, and the team saw an opportunity to provide humanitarian relief to the small village.
“The Ogwuokwu School in the Imo State of Nigeria lacked basic infrastructure including no water supply, no sanitary facilities and no walls dividing the classrooms,” said Feather.
The team analyzed the needs of the school and decided to focus on providing clean water. Not only will this improve the health of the community, but it will also allow students to shift their focus from survival to being a kid and getting an education.
The plan is to create a small water tower with a solar panel on top that would power it. Funding for the project came through a Go Fund Me account. Although the account generated a few thousand dollars in the first three weeks, the donations eventually slowed. The team found a way to engage local restaurants to share profits and fund the well. UMKC Enactus also reached out to businesses near the Ogwuoko School to use local materials and labor once constructions begins, which the team hopes will be soon.
“While we knew this was an ambitious project to begin with, it will have a tremendous impact,” said team member Dennis Mowry. “Despite the roadblocks, we’ve been able to use our human centered design principles to come up with ways to keep the project moving forward.”
The Career Accelerator
UMKC Enactus realized that Kansas City was a hub for entrepreneurship with a strong start up business rate. To continue that progress, the city needs a constant flow of students to support and create local businesses. The team created The Career Accelerator event to engage students with local business.
The team reached out to local organizations like KC Startup Foundation, KC Sourceline, the City of Kansas City and Firebrand Ventures who share similar ideas of growing Kansas City’s entrepreneurial culture. The organizations pledged their support for the event and promoted it to their business networks.
“This event helped provide young entrepreneurial students the opportunity to connect with the Kansas City start up ecosystem,” said Megan Darnell, a MBA student in the Bloch School.
Continuing the success of the Career Accelerator, UMKC Enactus is building relationships with Chinese universities and tech companies sharing American business ideals. The goal is to bring Kansas City companies to China and Chinese companies to Kansas City.
KC Economic Development Project
In 2014, the City Council of Kansas City approached UMKC Enactus and asked for a partnership with the team and their initiatives. Since then, the team has been in Changsha, China, and ten other Chinese cities meeting with the Changsha Federation of Industry and Commerce, the Changsha Municipal Government, the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and other government and business leaders.
In 2015, the team established a trade partnership with the City of Changsha and Kansas City. Changsha offered to place three Kansas City Companies in the Changsha High Tech Park for three years and is attempting to bring Chinese companies to Kansas City.
This year, UMKC Enactus is planning an international trade symposium with the Economic Development Corporation and the City Council of Kansas City that they hope will take place in Sept.
“This project has garnered the support of some of the highest government officials in Kansas City including Mayor Sly James and Narbeli Galindo, the International Business Director for the KC Economic Development Corporation,” said Feather.
To get involved with UMKC Enactus email Feathers @firstname.lastname@example.org, visit their website http://www.umkcenactus.org or attend their weekly meetings on Tuesday in the Henry W. Bloch School of Business room 331 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.