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Semi-final finish for SIFE Memorial at world cup

Pictured left to right are Kaitlin Smith, Diana Flemming, Danielle Seward and Rebecca Pelley with the SIFE first-round trophy.

By Susan White-MacPherson

The SIFE World Cup is a competition of numbers.

Thirteen projects; 26 students; 19,880 volunteer hours; 64 jobs created; 4,212 people affected; over $1.6 million in economic impact. But just 24 minutes to tell the story of the Memorial University's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team.

"The world cup is an opportunity to showcase the impact we've had on people as a result of the project work that we've done," said Lynn Morrissey, assistant professor of communications, Faculty of Business Administration and faculty adviser to SIFE Memorial. "The key is finding a way to tell our story so the judges can see the impact we've had."

SIFE Memorial joined teams from around the world at the Enactus (formerly SIFE) World Cup in Washington, D.C., from Sept. 30-Oct. 2. The team advanced through the first round of competition to earn a spot in the semi-final and finish in the top 16.

"Obviously we went there hoping to win but top 16 in the world, that's pretty impressive," said Shane Skinner, president of SIFE Memorial, which will be undertaking a name change in the near future to adopt the Enactus brand that was launched during the world cup. "We've always had a good showing there so it's great to be able to keep that up."

After defeating teams from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand in the opening round, both Canada and Swaziland advanced to the semi-final. There, SIFE Memorial was placed in one of four semi-finals with Morocco, Ghana and the eventual champions, the U.S. team.

"We all knew we had to give the presentation of our lives, and they did. It was flawless," said Prof. Morrissey.

SIFE Memorial presented on the results of three projects: Based in Business, which helps former military personnel develop entrepreneurial skills; Bottlepreneur, which works with street collectors of recyclable bottles and cans; and Bright Futures, which helps people with disabilities gain business skills and promotes acceptance of disabilities.

It was the sixth time in seven years that SIFE Memorial has represented Canada at the world cup, an international student business competition that brings together students, academic leaders and business professionals for three days of intense competition, networking, presentations and learning. Teams are judged on economic, social and environmental impact to determine which SIFE team best empowers people in need through business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach to community outreach.

"It's much more exciting than it is intimidating," said Mr. Skinner, a fifth-year bachelor of commerce student. "The way I look at it is we're presenting to people who want to hear our story."

It's also an opportunity each year to hear about innovative programs worldwide and take those lessons back to their own work in St. John's. Mr. Skinner says that brainstorming for the coming year has already begun and the team, which includes students from the Faculties of Business Administration, Arts, Education, Science and Engineering and Applied Science, is highly motivated to develop projects that have an even greater impact on their communities and earn them yet another berth on the world stage.

The team has already started preparing for the regional topic competition in February as well as nationals in May.