The Beedie School of Business frequently encourages each student that passes through to exceed their potential by getting involved, engaging the world and gaining real-world experience. SIFE, short for Students in Free Enterprise, is one of the student organizations that has gained prominence at Simon Fraser University since its inception in 1991. But what is SIFE and why does it have such a large impact on the global community? As an international not-for-profit, with around 1,600 teams operating in over 40 countries, SIFE inspires students to take innovative approaches to improving the quality of life and standard of living of populations in need. Taking the concepts of social entrepreneurship and the triple bottom-line to heart, SIFE programs create sustainable solutions to social, environmental and economic problems in the community.
One of the backbones of the SIFE program is the competitions. Taking place at the regional, national and international level, these competitions combine quality presentations and a five minute question and answer period with the production of a written annual report. Teams are evaluated by industry leaders, who serve as judges for the competitions. Each team pours countless hours into the preparation of these presentations, in the hopes of best representing all of the hard work that they have put into their programs that year. These events are always inspiring, and often mind-blowing, allowing teams from around the world to share best-practices while encouraging innovation through the production of quality programs that create measurable outcomes in the community. At the end of this month, the SIFE Simon Fraser team will be heading to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual SIFE World Cup. This event will bring students leaders and faculty mentors from around the world together to compete, network and inspire each other to reach new levels in the coming year. Having the opportunity to increase awareness for SIFE Simon Fraser’s programs and being able to witness the amazing impact that SIFE, as a whole, has had this year is a life-changing opportunity.
A SIFE team must have outstanding sustainable programs to be able to compete at these competitions. Currently the SIFE Simon Fraser team operates six programs: SFU Entrepreneur of the Year; Banner Bags; Hunger Actions; Count on Me; Progressing the Impact of Nonprofits; and SIFE-X. SFU Entrepreneur of the Year, now entering its fifth year, is a competition where entrepreneurs that attend the university can pitch their businesses to a panel of judges who are prominent figures within the Vancouver entrepreneurship community, with thousands of dollars in prize money and resources available to be won. This year, SEY has added an accelerator program that is open to all post-secondary students called JumpStart. In this eight week bootcamp, participants will learn how to turn a business idea into reality through mentorship and workshops run by local entrepreneurs.
Another program, Banner Bags, takes used street banners into high school textiles classrooms to teach students about environmental sustainability. During each workshop, students are taught about important concepts related to environmental sustainability, including up-cycling, reusing vs. recycling and product life-cycle analysis. Since its inception in 2008, the program has run countless workshops across Metro Vancouver and has grown considerably, recently finishing as a finalist for the City of Surrey’s Green City Award in 2011. SFU Entrepreneur of the Year and Banner Bags are just two of the programs run by SIFE Simon Fraser. The other four programs will be detailed in future blog posts leading up to the SIFE World Cup.
The road to the SIFE World Cup will undoubtedly be an exciting adventure that the SIFE Simon Fraser team is extremely excited to experience. Make sure to check back each week for updates as this journey progresses!