SIFE Team Helps Small Susinesses Become Environmentally Sustainable

With only three years of experience, the University of St. Thomas SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) team became regional champions at the Minneapolis regional competition on Monday. Through eight community outreach projects, the team impacted more than 6,000 individuals and two local businesses this year, and is working to bring their projects to the global level over the next year.

SIFE teaches students how to use business principles to create a positive impact in their community and around the world. Throughout the year, the UST team works on projects to meet six criteria:

  • market economics
  • success skills
  • financial literacy
  • business ethics
  • environmental sustainability
  • entrepreneurship

This year, the team helped two small business partners become more environmentally sustainable - Fat Lorenzo’s in Minneapolis and the Eagan Residence Inn. Students replaced old light bulbs with CFLs, added motion sensor lights in community areas, arranged to send food waste to a local pig farmer and sealed door frames.

In addition, they developed a bi-weekly program through the Selby Avenue Community Development Corporation to help a group of middle school students from the Selby neighborhood in St. Paul learn entrepreneurship skills. These students do not have access to business clubs or classes through their school, but have the drive to become entrepreneurs.

The team also brought 50 third-grade students from Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a school that caters to low-income families with the ultimate goal of sending 100% of the students to college, to St. Thomas. They gave the students a tour of campus, introduced them to Tommie the mascot and read them a story, written by a SIFE member, about business ethics.

With its regional win, UST SIFE advances to the national competition, also in Minneapolis, May 11-13, 2010.

In other SIFE news, the team was awarded $1,000 as one of five regional finalists in the Sam’s Club Challenge and will take part in a national competition in Bentonville, Ark. in April. The Sam’s Club Environmental Sustainability Challenge provides the opportunity for SIFE teams and Sam’s Club associates to work together to improve the environmentally sustainable practices of Sam’s Club small business members.

The goal is to inspire sustainable practices in the lives of Business members and their businesses, as well as in the lives of their customers and communities in the following areas:

  • waste and recycling
  • nature and natural resources
  • energy and water
  • people and community

The competition required the UST SIFE team to secure the commitment of their local Sam’s Club in order to participate. With the assistance of a Sam’s Club associate, they completed a project that improves the sustainability of two Sam’s Clubs. The team received a $1,000 grant from Sam’s Club Eagan.