One of the biggest and most successful student-led community non-profits in the world is rebranding itself, resulting in a new name for SIFE Okanagan.
SIFE, which stands for Students in Free Enterprise, has been operating internationally for almost 40 years and effective Jan. 1, 2013, will be called Enactus.
“This is a more powerful name for us,” said Adrienne Renaud, a third-year Okanagan School of Business student at the Kelowna campus and vice president of marketing for Enactus Okanagan College. “We’re about taking action. We don’t just sit around and come up with ideas, we make things happen.”
Enactus stands for entrepreneurial, action, and us. It highlights the role student leaders (guided by both academic advisors and business experts) take in sharing their classroom skills by creating real solutions for people in the community.
In the Central Okanagan this has resulted in several key projects including:
- Venture Okanagan – where students help set up the infrastructure that supports adult entrepreneurs with early stage investors and mentors
- Help Hunger Disappear (formerly Let’s Can Hunger) – where team members tackle hunger by addressing long and short-term needs and raising awareness
- Dollars & Sense – an eight-week financial literacy program where students help low-income and at-risk individuals with basic financial education to improve their futures
- And the new program that launched this year – Farm Bag – where students help the community connect to locally grown produce that may otherwise go to waste
“Growing up on a farm I have been fortunate to be exposed to the challenges that face the industry in the valley,” said 21-year-old Paven Singh Sekhon, who is majoring in Finance and serves as the President of Enactus Okanagan College.
“Farmbag is a program where my background and business skills collide so I’ve been able to help in creating a sustainable model of distributing local produce,” said Sekhon, who is one of many volunteers working on the Farmbag initiative.
Sekhon said when he first arrived at the College, he wondered about the value of volunteering, but has since seen the benefits.
“It’s been life changing,” he said. “It’s given me the opportunity to surround myself with the most influential people in business and local community, and it’s taken me from thinking about ideas of how we can improve our community, to actually taking action.”
Dr. Kyleen Myrah, who founded SIFE Okanagan eight years ago and in 2012 received the Silver Teaching Excellence Award from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, said Sekhon’s perspective is a common one.
“Through Enactus, students discover what it means to develop their sense of civic duty, to build citizenship capacity, to be part of their community and not apart from it,” said Myrah, who continues to mentor the program.
The Okanagan College team has distinguished itself both in the region, and on the national stage, taking spots in the top five in the last four years of competition.
Notably the team has taken first place three years running as the Let’s Can Hunger champion. SIFE Okanagan team members were also recognized in 2012 as:
- Financial Literacy National Runner-up
- Student Project Manager of the Year
- And regionally, with first place awards in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and in the environmental Go Green category
The College’s Enactus team is active at all four of the College’s campuses: Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton and has a direct impact on people in more than 10 communities in the region. Globally, more than 57,000 students in 39 countries are involved with Enactus, helping people in 115 countries around the world.
To find out more about the organization and current local projects, visit www.enactusoc.ca or call Enactus Okanagan College President Paven Singh Sekhon at 250-469-1513.
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