Enactus student organization sponsors event at annual SEA Conference

Mar 07, 2016

North Central College’s Enactus student organization has been awarded a $2,100 Sam’s Club Step-up for Small Business Grant that focuses on two primary goals: mentoring a small business and educating underserved borrowers. At the end of summer 2015, Enactus students took part in competing for this yearlong grant project opportunity.

As part of the grant, North Central students worked with Amy Rogers, Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) director and Enactus program coordinator, to participate in the SEA Conference held Feb. 26-27. With Rogers’ assistance, Enactus members organized an “office hours” program at the conference to help those interested in finding ways to get financial support for their creative business ideas.

“We wanted a diversified group of specialists who could help people who need financial advice for their creative small business,” said W. Justin Ali ’16, Enactus alternate project lead. “Some of the specialists we reached out to were professionals from BMO Harris and Martha Carney, executive director of North Central’s new Center for Entrepreneurship.”

Their “Finding the Money” office hours program was designed to show entrepreneurs how they can afford the supplies or equipment they will need to start their business and take it to the next level. Topics of discussion included loans, bootstrapping and general start-up financing. This program not only served as a goal for the Sam’s Club grant, but it was also a useful experience for the students.

“This is a good opportunity for North Central students to see what they need to know and what they should expect after graduation,” said Nikki Amundsen ’16, North Central Enactus member.

Among the SEA Conference events was a Student Entrepreneur Panel that included two current North Central students. Brandon Barnes ’16 (left) and Rachel Maher ’16 (right) shared their experiences starting their own small business ventures. Barnes, a multi-media artist, started Technicolored Vision and Maher is a freelance graphic designer.

Also attending the SEA Conference were other North Central College alumni, faculty and students. Presenters included John Madormo, assistant professor of broadcast communication; Carin Silkaitis, associate professor of theatre; Lizzie Bracken, assistant professor of theatre; Brian Hanlon, Coleman Foundation professor of entrepreneurship and small business; and alumni Catherine Borzym ’11 and Scott Palmer ’08.

North Central Enactus members have continued their work with small businesses globally, as well. In 2004, North Central’s Enactus members created NCC’s Best, a socially conscious small business that sells items, including textiles and coffee. As new members join each year, the North Central Enactus organization continues NCC’s Best, teaching students how the cogs and gears turn in the small business world.

Formerly known as Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), North Central College’s Enactus organization is part of the Enactus program that reaches more than 900 colleges and universities around the world. It’s designed for students of all majors to help small local and global entrepreneurs become financially sustainable.

“Enactus inspires me because we put our discussions into action,” said Ali. “I learned we can help other countries with selling coffee. I didn’t know that was possible.”

By Stephanie Snyder ’15/M ’17