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Students at SIFE

18 Jul 2011

Prof Bob Walker A dedicated group of students from The University of Sydney have put their best feet forward at the annual SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) National Conference.

An initiative that aims to provide tertiary students with an opportunity to make a real difference in their communities via a range of innovative projects, it also provides participants with the chance to apply their degree knowledge in a real world setting while further developing leadership, teamwork and communication skills. As part of the program, SIFE teams get the opportunity to present their projects to representatives from some of Australia's largest companies and NGOs.

Although failing to make the finals, SIFE co-faculty advisor Andrew Lee said the performance of the team was an outstanding success.

"The team presented really confidently and competently and delivered the core messages of our projects in a very professional manner," he says. "It was fantastic to see the commitment of the students in using their newly developed skills for the good of the community."

Lee says the presentation focused on projects including the team's three-day B.Inspiring Conference, which drew in 45 high school students from lower socio-economic areas for a seminar on basic business skills.

"We also went through our community gardens project, where we built a community garden in a school," adds Lee. "We explained that it's not just about teaching kids about sustainability, but also teaching them about supply and demand and pricing strategies for the vegetables and herbs that they grow."

University of Sydney SIFE team co-President Mei-Lim Smith also said the wider benefits of the SIFE competition ensured that it was an extremely rewarding program to be associated with.

"Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of being involved in this organisation is the fact it gives students an opportunity to develop sustainable outreach projects that have a measurable impact on disadvantaged groups in our community," she says. "Students improve their business acumen, gain skills in project management and develop a greater appreciation of the intersection between entrepreneurship and social work."