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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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May 19, 2011

SIFE Team Reaches National Competition

UNL’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) captured the award of room champions at the 2011 regional SIFE competition held in Chicago earlier this year.  The competition lets student teams from throughout the region showcase their entrepreneurial efforts from the past year.  After their success in Chicago the team then moved on to the national competition in Minneapolis.

Although the recognition that comes with winning is gratifying, the heart of the team’s success came in the entrepreneurial spirit that the students carried with them throughout the year.  Ben Tiggelaar was one of the students who spent many days working at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to help introduce new entrepreneurial skills to members of the reservation.

“It’s really an impoverished area and the student dropout rate is nearly 75 percent,” said Tiggelaar. “We wanted to do something with the high school students that gave them a sense of empowerment that they could change something in their community.  So we taught them grant writing.  Right now there’s no extra income for people to create opportunity so money has to initially come from outside the community.”

The grant writing component helped members of Pine Ridge apply for grants to develop a weight room facility, a music program and also gave them the ability to hire a part time student position for the recreation center. 

The SIFE team also helped raise $7,000 through grants to purchase a quilting machine for a Native American quilter and they also helped provide for the distribution of garden sets so that people could grow some of their own food. 

“We’re working with an organization called Remember on the reservation,” said Tiggelaar. “We are going to distribute 20 garden packets which are four by four wooden planters that are placed in someone’s backyard.  We included everything that you need to take care of the garden including instructions, the tools and the education needed to grow your own fresh produce.  Right now they can’t afford it.   Providing basic nutrition is huge up there.”

Economics major Max Weber also talked about another project the team spearheaded in Ogallala, NE. 

“We’ve been working with the Ogallala community trying to help them expand on tourism out at Lake McConaughy,” said Weber. “We’ve been working with the community using entrepreneurial aspects to work with students and get them to use Google to help boost business with advertising.”

The presentation the SIFE team gave at their competitions was designed to feature the work SIFE carried out during the past year within a dramatic presentation.

“We put this team together last November based on tryouts,” said Weber. “We started meeting at the beginning of the semester to put our script together. I was on the presentation team last year so I had an idea of what to do and how to come up with it. We selected the project based on what had the biggest impact on people. We wrote a script that is about 20 minutes long for us to read and there’s about three or four minutes of video. There’s an audio visual background that plays behind us while we’re talking.”

The team practiced up to five times a week in March in addition to keeping up with their normal class work.

“The essence of the presentation is what we’ve done as a team this year,” said Weber. “We include stuff about our team and then we take questions at the end.”

Although the team did not capture first place at the national competition some of the students from this year's team will have a chance to compete again next year and pass on their experience to a new team of students.  This year’s team included students from both within the College of Business Administration as well as students from other colleges.   SIFE team members were:

Name Hometown/Major
Ganjina Azimova Khujand, Tajikistan/English
Lindsey Dykman Lodgepole, NE/Economics and Finance
Alioune Faye Addis Ababa, Ethiopia/Mechanized Systems Management
Alimas Fulati Xijiang Urumgi City, China/Interational Studies
Nate Ruiz Omaha, NE/Business Administration
Benjamin Tiggelaar Sioux Falls, SD/Business Administration (Raikes School)
Max Weber Adams, NE/Economics