Enactus Team Proves there is Profit in Sustainability
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 22, 2018) — The Kennesaw State University Enactus team – whose mission it is to promote socially responsible entrepreneurship – finished fourth place last month in the semifinal round of the Enactus National Exposition in Kansas City, Mo.
Held May 20 - 22, the National Expo included 90 Enactus teams from across the country presenting their chapters’ entrepreneurial projects to a panel of judges consisting of executives from major companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.
Kennesaw State University Enactus team at National Expo
“The National Exposition was hands down the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life,” says Stacey Young, a member of the Kennesaw State Enactus presentation team. “It was a little nerve-wracking talking to the CEOs of those major companies, but with the help of everyone on our amazing Enactus team, we performed above and beyond our expectations.”
The presentation team, which also included seniors Jared Johnson, Miko Luna, Stephanie Carvajalino, and Arium Sium, was one of only 16 teams to advance to the semifinal round, where they finished fourth and tied for 13th overall. Their presentation was a live, multimedia summary of three community-focused entrepreneurial projects the team continues to develop.
Enactus is an international organization encouraging college students to use the principles of free enterprise to help improve the lives of people in their communities. There are 1,730 Enactus programs with 72,000 members operating in 36 countries. Kennesaw State’s team has been active since 1985.
“The main strength of the Enactus program is that it is empowering students,” says Dennis Loubiere, Enactus coordinator and a faculty member with the Michael J. Coles College of Business Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. “Business ideas are a dime a dozen. What Enactus does is give students the support to actually implement their ideas.”
Enactus teams work with student entrepreneurs in their universities to develop businesses that focus on sustainability, helping design business strategies and find funding. Loubiere says he looks for projects that successfully balance the three Ps of sustainable business: profit, people, and planet.
“When you are in business, you have to be profitable or it’s not sustainable,” he says. “You also have to pay your people a living wage to give them enough money to educate their children and to survive. And with the planet, you cannot use more resources than what can be replenished. You don’t want to harm future generations.”
This blending of free enterprise with social responsibility is what attracted Loubiere to take over as faculty advisor in 2013 following the retirement of former advisor Dr. Gary Roberts. It also forms the essence of the student enterprises presented at the National Expo by the Kennesaw State Enactus team.
The projects include Click-a-Shift, an Uber-style app that pairs businesses with on-demand student labor; The Biz Nation, an online entrepreneurial education platform for students in Latin America; and The Academy, a program that teaches special needs students to be entrepreneurs.
Each enterprise fills a societal need. Whether it is a small business’s need for labor, a college student’s need for flexible employment, or a disadvantaged student’s need to increase their economic potential, these projects each have business plans that improve the lives of real people while also providing a return for the business owners.
“Enactus teaches you to trust in the business model,” says sophomore Billy Herrara, a business major and Enactus member. “The whole point is to enable others to use the business model to enact a sustainable change.”
Although not part of the presentation team, Herrara was one of many Kennesaw State Enactus members to attend the National Expo to show their support. He especially enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about other universities’ Enactus projects.
“It’s amazing to see all these other colleges and groups of students working their hardest to make such a positive change,” he says. “When it comes to competition time, you want to hate them, but you can’t because they are ending world hunger!”
In addition to providing students with the skills to be socially responsible entrepreneurs, Enactus can also have a powerful impact on their future careers. Prominent businesses like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Unilever, ADP, and Hallmark sponsor the National Expo and search for talented, driven students among the Enactus teams.
Enactus Team meeting with corporate sponsor Robert Half
“The sponsors see this event as their way to get first crack at hiring some great students,” Loubiere says. “I’ve been told by many HR people that they are normally looking for the needle in the haystack at most college career fairs. But here, they have a haystack full of needles.”
Three students on the Kennesaw State Enactus team received job offers while at the Expo, including Young, who accepted a position as Associate Client Support Consultant for ADP. He began the job earlier this month after graduating with a management degree in May.
“I was not expecting to be interviewed right then and there,” he says. “But within 20 minutes of talking to a recruiter, I was hired. I can’t thank KSU and Enactus enough for this opportunity.”
While Loubiere celebrates the success of his outgoing seniors, he is always looking for new students to join the program. Enactus is open to all Kennesaw State students, not only those affiliated with the Coles College of Business. The incoming Enactus president is a global economics major at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
All that is required to succeed in Enactus is a belief in the power of entrepreneurship and a desire to do good in the world, Loubiere says, remarking that the two beliefs do not contradict each other as many often believe.
“Most people think of social entrepreneurship as only involving nonprofits,” he says. “But it’s not. You have to look at sustainability. I don’t care if you are the largest nonprofit in the world, you have to bring in $1 more than you spend or you’re going to go under. It’s not sustainable."
Loubiere encourages any student interested in learning more about the program to visit the Enactus Homepage to learn about their ongoing projects and to join.
- Patrick Harbin
Photos Provided by Dennis Loubiere