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Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)

04 Aug 2010

The Faculty of Economics and Business is strongly committed to the creation of new ideas and advancement of knowledge. This focus on 'innovation' was highlighted recently with the outstanding performance of our students at the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) national conference in Melbourne.

SIFE is an organisation designed to provide tertiary students with an opportunity to make a difference in their communities and enable people to participate more fully and effectively in the economic and social life of the nation. The program aims to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practising and teaching the tenets of the students academic discipline.

Ten students from the University of Sydney (eight of who study in the Faculty of Economics and Business) joined hundreds of participants from 28 other Australian tertiary institutions at the annual SIFE Conference to present projects they have been working on over the past 12 months. This was the eighth occasion the University of Sydney has participated at the conference.

After delivering their 25-minute presentation, the group fielded questions from 15 to 20 judges, comprising of senior managers and executives from major Australian institutions. The presentations related to actual community based projects, based around a set of social entrepreneurship criteria and included:

  • Construction of community gardens in a local public school;
  • Establishment of a job shadowing project with a range of prominent non profit organisations such as the White Ribbon Foundation, Vibewire and the Leukaemia Foundation; and
  • Development of the Free Enterprise Leadership Conference to be run in November 2010 which will foster business skills of 80-100 senior high school students from disadvantaged schools and communities.

The University of Sydney team reached the semi final stage (the final 8) of the competition and was knocked out only by the overall 1st and 2nd placed teams. The quality of the presentation, the team's ability to handle questioning and their composure under pressure were exceptional. For context, the winning team from the University of Western Australia, comprised more than 100 students working a minimum of 5 hours per week over the period of the challenge, and presented some projects established over 5 years ago.

The University of Sydney team currently predominantly comprises Economics and Business students and is supported by the faculty's Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Research Group (IERG). However, students from across the University are welcome to join the group.

The Students who attended SIFE were:

  • Julia Kang - Acting President - Commerce / Law
  • Donna Zhou - Financial Literacy - Economics
  • Jean-Marie Voon - Leadership Conference - Commerce
  • Mega Wiyana - Lets Can Hunger - Arts / Social Work
  • Stephanie Hanna - Community Gardens - Economics
  • Victor Chu - Social Entrepreneurship - Arts
  • Helena Cheng - Commerce
  • Mei Smith - Economics / Social Science / Laws
  • Xuan (Cheryl) Fang - Commerce
  • Daniel Holt - Commerce