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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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March 1, 2011

SIFE Students Put Entrepreneurship Principles in Motion at UNL

Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) have put the principles they practice into motion here at UNL. The student organization is operating an online auction system that resells surplus inventory for departments across campus. Although the online site was in operation for several years under the name UNL Surplus Online Sales, when SIFE took over its management in 2009 the activity became even more significant to the University.

Current SIFE Sales manager Tyrone Fahie, who had already been working with the online system had an idea to expand the purpose and vision of the site.

“When I was approaching graduation I wanted to further my business development so I pitched the idea of making this a non-profit and running it through the Center of Entrepreneurship as a way for me to get real world business experience,” said Fahie. “I’ve been able to directly apply what I’ve learned in school in this business. I’ve taken several business classes and all the aspects that we’ve learned in textbooks really are applicable in all that we do in SIFE Sales.”

The SIFE Sales operation has allowed many students to experience the dynamics of running a small business. UNL student Jimmy O’Keeffe will be taking over the management of the business from Fahie later this year.

“The first benefit of SIFE Sales is for the University,” said O’Keeffe. “We give over 70 percent of the funds back to the people who bring us the items. Number two is benefiting the community because most of the rest of the money that we make is used to fund all of our projects throughout the year. So there are various things we’ve done this year such as donating money to Haiti relief efforts. We’ve also helped raise money with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation because per capita they’re in one of the poorest counties in the nation. The final benefit is it helps students learn hands-on what we’ve learned in the classroom and take it into the work place.”

SIFE Sales uses an NU Auction system developed by the College of Business Administration’s IT Services team to sell goods. If items don’t sell there then they go online at Ebay. SIFE Sales also works with UNL Inventory to facilitate which items are sold via online methods and which items are sold at UNL’s quarterly auctions at the City Campus Warehouse. Over the years Fahie has seen a variety of items pass through the SIFE Sales doors.

“Our biggest sales are normally in electronics and computer type equipment. Musical instruments also have high resale value and the cycles for those are relatively short. We’ve sold practically everything that I can find on campus -- vacuum tubes, French horns, computers -- anything that has a value of over 25 dollars.”

In addition to funds being returned to departments, individuals who purchase items can deduct donations from taxes.

For more information e-mail us at or call (402) 472-7290.

SIFE Sales Web Site