We want to take this opportunity to salute Enactus, an international non-profit, dedicated to creating sustainable solutions through entrepreneurship. Formally known as Students in Free Enterprise, their approach is to help humanity and make the world a better place by inspiring, educating, and encouraging the next generation to start and grow businesses that solve economic and environmental challenges. Focusing on students, Enactus provides the knowhow, resources, and mentoring necessary to create new businesses that make a difference.
Their name Enactus, stands for entrepreneurship, action and cooperation by all of us: businesses, students, educators, donors, and the community. With 550 corporate partners in 36 countries, they positively affect more than 70,500 students in 1,700 university programs. Their underlying emphasis is on integrity, the fundamental basis of trust, credit and ultimate sustainability in all successful enterprises.
Unlike many entrepreneurial education programs, they take action. Students actually create new businesses. Using video, oral, and written presentations, students take leadership roles in developing and delivering proposals that teach free enterprise to the community through sustainable entrepreneurial projects. This accomplishes three important goals: it gets students to focus on social problems, it makes students aware of their social responsibilities, and it challenges them to come up with sustainable business models to solve them. In other words, it allows the next generation of business leaders to discover how free enterprise can solve some of the pressing survival issues of our time.
Students are organized into college-sponsored teams that compete with other students in other colleges in their region and nation. National business leaders choose from among the best ideas to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Winners advance to the Enactus World Cup.
Through this competitive process, students are given an opportunity to display their imagination and communication skills. It also provides a forum for interaction and an opportunity to showcase their talents to business leaders looking for top talent and socially responsible business leaders. Through the execution of their projects, students learn the challenges and solutions of entrepreneurship with the help of volunteers, faculty, alumni, and other businesses.
The 2014 winner was a team of students from the North China Electric Power University in Beijing who brought light and power to herdsmen in Mongolia with wind and solar installations and created a sustainable company to maintain the equipment. Their project entitled “Empowering the Grasslands” happened because of one student’s awareness of the plight of more than 900,000 people who burn animal dung for light and power, exposing themselves to serious health and safety hazards. At the world competition, the team collaborated with many other teams from around the world to refine their venture.
This and thousands of other student-created ventures is made possible through Enactus. As “entrepreneurial cheerleaders,” we have spoken to tens of thousands of students of entrepreneurship around the world, encouraging them to start and grow their own businesses using what we call the guiding principles for success. Two of those principles are to put yourself in the other person’s shoes in every business relationship, and to make your business stand for more than just the mercantile goods and services it provides. Enactus is giving students, and tomorrow’s business leaders, hands-on experience with these two basic principles of entrepreneurial sustainability.
What we also like the message Enactus sends to students, and ultimately the world, that the quality of life can be improved through thoughtful and socially conscious business models which are for the most part, more efficient than government programs. Competition and the requirement to deliver products and services in a cost-effective manner are the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurship. They give people in the affected communities a livelihood making those solutions more likely to survive and prosper.
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
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