FSC’s Enactus Business Club Combines Entrepreneurship with Social Action
Florida Southern students are out to dispel the notion that business people are merely greedy and out for themselves. Through the campus chapter of Enactus, an international nonprofit organization for college students that promotes social responsibility in business, FSC students are making a difference in Polk County.
FSC Enactus teams already have carried out plans to encourage kids to have healthier eating habits, to raise awareness about hunger, and to help middle schoolers to think about attending college or starting their own businesses.
“Dean (Bill) Rhey saw this as a flagship business club for students and wanted to create a class around it,” said Dr. Jennifer Dapko, visiting assistant professor of marketing at FSC. “So now students can take a two-hour-credit course, Students in Free Enterprise.”
Students create plans for business projects that address a particular need in the community. Teams in the FSC Enactus club came up with several projects. One team, composed of John Riley and Logan Muether, is building a vegetable garden at Gause Academy, a public middle and high school in Bartow. The garden will be used by the school as an educational tool to promote healthier eating, and a local chef will create a cookbook, sales of which will go to the American Cancer Society.
Riley’s and Muether’s project won a $2,000 grant from Lowe’s, the building supply company, to help pay for the garden. They were one of just 50 teams out of 1,500 nationwide to receive the grant and are now eligible to compete for a grand prize of $5,000 from Lowe’s.
Another Enactus project took place on March 4 on campus. The team of Julie Gladish and Lexi Gauslow partnered with Junior Achievement to organize a Shark Tank-style competition among the middle school students at Southwest Middle School.
About 100 students in grades 6-8 visited the campus, and teams of students presented business plans on everything from solar-powered cars to discount clothing stores to panels of judges. That was followed by motivational speeches from students and FSC faculty and tours of the campus. The idea was to encourage the students to dream big and include college in their future.
“We wanted to give them an outlet for their ideas, but it turned into educating them about college. A lot of these kids are not very confident,” Gauslow said.
“We’re really happy with it. The plan is to expand this next year,” Gladish added.
These projects fit with Enactus’ goal of harnessing entrepreneurial skills to make a difference in local communities. Each year, Enactus holds an annual competition, in which campus chapters present projects they have implemented in their local communities. Regional winners advance to a national championship, and national champions go on to the prestigious Enactus World Cup.
The FSC Enactus project teams will describe their accomplishments to the chapter’s Business Advisory Board, which will decide which projects are worthy to enter the Enactus regional competition. In April, the teams will make presentations to the FSC student body.
“I’m really impressed with the level of professionalism the students have to show in these competitions,” said Dr. Dapko. “They have to show evidence of an improved quality of life for the group in need. They have to give a quantitative and qualitative analysis. It’s a pretty rigorous program.
“There are a couple of strong projects,” she continued. “I’m amazed how fast they’ve been able to mobilize as teams.”