While two of their members are in the West African country of Ghana teaching local women basic business skills and cooking organic soap, the other members of The University of Tennessee chapter of Students in Free Enterprise held their first meeting of the semester last Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Free Enterprise is an international organization, funded by corporate sponsors, that offers opportunities for students to gain real world business experience and better their communities as volunteers. Active membership can build a resume and personal relationships, and aid students’ futures as well.
The organization, which offers free membership to all majors, has planned about six projects for the fall. They include aiding local businesses with their marketing and finance skills while relaying the inner workings of these disciplines.
Free Enterprise’s new president, James Crawford, a senior in marketing, said that Golden Roast, a coffee house located at 825 Melrose Place, is just one of the local businesses benefiting from the organization’s volunteer projects.
“Our goal will be to educate and empower the owner with the skills that we have learned to aid this small enterprise, by whatever means we feel applicable and necessary,” Crawford said. “In return, students will gain valuable hands-on knowledge of this industry, applicable experience in the area of strategic business planning and guidance from well-experienced professors and businesspersons.”
Members also teach students in Knoxville public schools how businesses are set up and operated.
“Students would learn that the process starts from the manufacturer and ends up in retail stores and involves shipping, using raw materials, manufacturing, wholesaling and marketing,” he said.
To introduce the chain process and concepts such as globalization, Free Enterprise plans to work with the local clothing corporation, Goody’s.
Free Enterprise is sponsored by organizations such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Wells Fargo and Sprint, all of whom actively recruit the organization’s alumni.
While Free Enterprise opens many doors when searching for a career, Anneke Saloom, senior in finance, said that membership alone does not guarantee future success.
“In SIFE there’s give and take, there’s what you can get out of it and there’s what you can put into it,” Saloom said.
Crawford said anyone who wants to benefit from Free Enterprise should do more than attend meetings and list it on his or her resume.
“It is absolutely necessary to take an active roll in (SIFE),” he said.
One of Free Enterprise’s flyers around campus announcing the meeting brought a new member, Kevin Kasper, a freshman in finance, who said he is looking forward to being part of the organization.
“I’m excited about doing the projects and getting to help local companies,” he said.
Another new member who attended the meeting, graduate student in economics Danny Scates, shared hopes of making a contribution to the this year’s agenda.
“I’m hoping to lead some kind of project on economic development,” he said. “I’m impressed that SIFE is an international organization.”
While the meeting attracted about 10 enthusiasts, Crawford said he hopes to see more students in the future.
“One of my main goals is to really boost membership,” he said. “The more members you have, the more resources you have for projects and the more impact there is to make and more lives to change.”
Free Enterprise meets on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 53A. For more information, e-mail James Crawford at jcrawfo8@utk.edu or visit the organization’s Web site at http://web.utk.edu/~sife.