Skip area navigation

OBU 'Enactus' Students Help Those in Need, Compete at National Contest

May 5, 2014

Pictured, back row, left to right: Christopher Sanford, Kris McNeal and Chase Lanphear. Front row, left to right: Amellia Coffey, Mary Criner, Chelsea Jordan and Bruna Gomes.

Enactus is a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. The group changed its name from Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) in September 2012. During the past two semesters, the OBU Enactus chapter fundraised, helped plan the establishment of a thrift store for the benefit of victims of domestic violence, and competed by presenting projects at the national level.

"My interest in Enactus began my senior year of high school," said Chris Sanford, sophomore and vice president of the OBU chapter. "I emailed Dr. Houghton asking about the business clubs on campus, and he told me about Enactus. In the autumn of my freshman year, I joined the team and actively participated in all of the projects. I even went to a national partner summit in New York as a freshman."

In November, Enactus hosted an etiquette dinner for 37 students and 11 business partners. The dinner raised $1,500 for the team's trip to USA National Exhibition.

In early April, the OBU Enactus presentation team traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to compete in the 2014 Enactus USA National Exhibition. Teams from different schools presented projects to executives from Enactus partner companies. OBU's team competed and won their opening round. The team left with a trophy and winnings of $1,000, which will help fund future projects. The team consisted of Chelsea Jordan, a senior computer science major and OBU Enactus president from Shawnee, Oklahoma; Sanford, a sophomore finance and social entrepreneurship double major from Valley Center, Kansas; Amellia Coffey, a sophomore management and marketing double major from Tucson, Arizona; and Mary Criner, a junior marketing major from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Enactus made their impact felt in other ways during the school year, including service with "Project: SAFE," a Shawnee ministry which offers housing to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. To aid the ministry, Enactus students developed a business plan for a thrift store, "Project: Resale." The store is intended to function as a retail training environment for the women housed at Project: SAFE. The students began planning for the store in the fall, and it is slated to open in May.

"The goal is for the women to build a resume of skills, so they can find substantial jobs on their own," Sanford said.

Enactus students also assisted two entrepreneurs through the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation. The CPCDC, a tribally chartered nonprofit organization, provides capital and technical assistance to projects which create a healthy tribal economy. Students completed business plans and commercial loan applications, helping secure $280,000 in funding.

"Overall, our projects have to be entrepreneurial and sustainable in nature," Sanford said. "Instead of giving handouts, we give people resources that last a lifetime."