A University of Virginia student team placed in the top 16 of teams from more than 380 colleges in a national exposition of student efforts to harness “the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.”
First in regional competitions and then at the Enactus National Exposition in Kansas City, Mo., from May 21 to 23, each Enactus team showcased its community outreach efforts, which were evaluated by alumni and business leaders.
The Enactus at U.Va. team placed first among eight teams to win its regional competition in Baltimore on March 22 and advance to the National Exposition, with a field of 156 teams. There the team grabbed the top spot among 20 teams in its first-round group to advance to the semifinal round.
There it placed fourth in a group of five teams, putting it among the top 16 teams.
The top team in each of the four semifinal round groups advanced to the National Exposition finals, where a team from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. won. The Flagler College team will represent the United States in the Enactus World Cup in September, competing against Enactus teams from 37 other countries.
“In 2012, Enactus at U.Va. competed for the first time and won Rookie of the Year at the National Exposition,” said Paola Castillo, a 2013 graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce and the outgoing president of Enactus at UVA, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise, which is affiliated with the McIntire School. “On only its second year of competition, our team placed in the top 16.”
The National Exposition judges included top executives from Enactus partner companies, including KPMG, Wal-Mart, Unilever, Dell, Coca-Cola and Home Depot.
In the competition, the Enactus at U.Va. team presented the results of three of its outreach projects, including its High School Academic Business Competition, which brought together students from seven high schools across Virginia to present an educational multimedia project focusing on the dangers of cybercrime and the necessity of computer security.
For another project, the U.Va. team’s iLEAD program worked with the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville to teach refugees practical English and interview skills to help them land their first job in the United States. The students worked with 24 refugees, eight of whom are now employed, said Alexandra Jones, a rising second-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences who plans to major in media studies.
With a grant from the Sam’s Club “Step Up for Small Business Challenge,” the U.Va. team worked with Berry Berry Frozen Yogurt on the Corner to help it launch its brand in Charlottesville. The team built its website, established a social media presence and ran several marketing campaigns throughout the year.
“Our success at competition is representative of our success in our outreach projects,” Castillo said. “We have a strong, committed and growing team that’s made an incredible impact this past year. We’re extremely proud of the progress we’ve made and the people we’ve empowered.”