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Business students honored by Governor's Office

May 31, 2013 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Liberty's Enactus Team meets with Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Dr. Ron Godwin and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Vice Provost Dr. Ron Hawkins after the team won Rookie of the Year at a regional Enactus competition in March.

A business plan to import coffee and sell it locally has earned Liberty University business students Honorable Mention for Best Social Enterprise in this year’s Governor’s Business Plan Challenge.

The competition, hosted by Work It, Richmond, recognizes Virginia’s strong entrepreneurial spirit. In all, 21 teams from colleges throughout Virginia pitched their business plans and competed for a top prize of $10,000. Entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the state served as judges and panelists.

Liberty sent its Enactus Team to the competition (Enactus is an international organization of student, academic, and business leaders that focuses on using entrepreneurial action to better society. There are more than 500 teams and 21,000 students involved in the organization in the United States.) Liberty’s team members for the Governor’s Business Plan Challenge were Joshua Williams, Tim Abbott, Sam Rouse, Robert Gallup, Tat Kieu Nguyen, Becca Streets, Tom Cirbus, Ricky Allen, Eleni Belay, Nana Abena Manu, and Daniel Kregenow.

Their project, “Cup of Hope,” is a plan to import coffee from the Dominican Republic and sell it locally, with most of the profits going toward building and funding an orphanage there. It would also provide a feasible, sustainable income for women and subsistence farmers in the community.

The team entered the competition with a win already under its belt. It was named Rookie of the Year in the Enactus 2013 Charlotte Regional in March.

Although the Governor’s Challenge was not an Enactus-sponsored event, it proved to be a great opportunity for Liberty’s team.

“We were recognized with the top schools in the state,” said Dr. George Young, associate professor at Liberty’s School of Business and the team’s faculty advisor. “It is great to see that what we are teaching here in the School of Business is being validated by a group of distinguished panelists and judges, because what they were talking about (at the event) is what we are teaching.”

Young said Enactus appeals to the top business students in the country because of its networking opportunities and the chance for them to put entrepreneurial skills into practice.

“They are seeing how to take an idea and bring it to fruition,” Young said. “They are learning how you develop, how you find out if the idea is feasible, and how you develop a working business plan to take to investors and then launch the project.”

Liberty has had a team for the last four years, though it was formerly called SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) before the organization rebranded. The current team was assembled last fall and began to prepare its presentation in February.

As for “Cup of Hope,” the project is already taking shape. Plans for exporting have been solidified and an investor has committed the necessary funds. Enactus is working to secure clients, including some local churches, and on branding and marketing.

“The students are using what they are learning in the classroom to fulfill demand that is out there,” Young said. “But they are using those proceeds to help better society. The sustainability on this project is phenomenal.”