Thirty Four business executives from Kenya rated Maseno University SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) Team the best in the 7th SIFE Kenya National Business Competition that was held at Panafric Hotel on May 23, 2009. The winning team spent a total of 7550 volunteer hours to enable 200 people improve their businesses; increase sales and make profit.
Moi university, the 2008 SIFE Kenya Champions ranked 3rd as Kabarak university ranked 2nd in the event that attracted 289 university students; faculty advisers and business leaders. Moi University; Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology; Kabarak University; University of Nairobi; Africa Nazarene University and Daystar University all received the Coca Cola Entrepreneurship Award.
“I feel great to be part of SIFE,” says Alice Murage, an International Relations student at Maseno University, who says she joined SIFE to gain business skills. “My university has never featured among the top three in SIFE competitions. In addition, I have never been out the country. I’m therefore extremely proud that SIFE will give me a lifetime opportunity to network with international business minded people in Germany!”
“SIFE has developed leadership qualities in me. I used to run away from problems but through SIFE, I now see them as business opportunities,” says Rachel Godia, another student from Maseno University.
Maseno University SIFE team assisted residents at the shores of Lake Victoria to obtain clean piped water. In the Esivalu project, they enabled a widows’ pottery group to add value to its products and increase sales. They acted as a bridge to a local community to shift from subsistence rearing of chicken to commercial in the Kukupreneur project; used Jasho Women Group as an entry point to reverse the negative effects of deforestation through use of renewable resources in the Greenpreneurs project and helped hoteliers improve their business by teaching them best business practices and customer care.
Maseno University SIFE, which trounced 11 other universities including Kabarak and Moi university will proceed to Berlin (Germany) in October to compete against 47 other global universities during the SIFE World Cup. The university will be Kenya’s flag bearer in the competition.
Speaking in the event, Nyambura Koigi, MD Postbank and outgoing Chairperson, SIFE Kenya Business Advisory Council said that she was proud to be associated with SIFE. She stressed that SIFE is about partnership between students, faculty advisers and business leaders; SIFE is about changing oneself and the community and it is about making others better than you found them.
“SIFE Kenya has nurtured over 2000 young leaders since inception and implemented an estimated 300 projects. It is a very competent pool from which corporates can draw their workers from,” she revealed.
Emphasizing the competence of SIFE students, she said that “It is very easy to tell the difference between a general graduate and a SIFE graduate.” She thus urged business leaders to join the SIFE initiative if Kenya is to achieve the industrialization goal of Vision 2030.
To take SIFE Kenya to the next level, Nyambura Koigi revealed that SIFE Kenya has moved beyond looking for winning teams to send to the SIFE World Cup and has embarked on looking for projects that can be taken to the next level. The SIFE Kenya Business Advisory Council will soon be inviting stakeholders to launch its upcoming 3 year Strategic Plan meant to turn around SIFE operations for even greater achievements.
She thanked the SIFE business council for according her cooperation during her 3 year tenure as chairperson; students and faculty advisers for their time, energy, advice and support as well as respective university administrations.
Nyambura Koigi handed over the mantle to the new Chairperson of SIFE Kenya Business Advisory Council, Andy Watt, CEO Syngenta East and South Africa.
Andy Watt thanked all judges for giving their time and money to ensure the success of the competition. He also thanked the SIFE Kenya country coordinator and his team for managing the event. He commended the outgoing chair for her efficient leadership and formulation of SIFE Kenya’s strategic review. He advised SIFE teams to always put customers before the mechanics- in their presentations. He also advised them to be profit minded in their ventures.
Turning to company CEOs, he urged them to dig deep into their corporate purse to make SIFE Kenya a success. When recruiting staff, he urged them to consider SIFE graduate first as “ SIFE graduates always stand out in the crowd. SIFE is a good source of human capital.”
“I am extremely proud of the fact that SIFE students have been able to create great impact using very meager resources. Such are the people that should benefit from the Kenya Youth Enterprise Fund!” says Stephen Jalenga, Deputy Director, E-Government in Kenya's Ministry of Youth Affairs.Stephen was one of the judges at the event.
Anne Mugoya (Personal Assistant, SIFE Country Director) said that the SIFE experience gives business leaders a great opportunity to nurture young minds. She advised the competing students to interact with the business community to get a feel of what business requires.
Speaking in the function, James Shikwati (Country Director, SIFE Kenya) congratulated SIFE teams for working with communities and compete in spite of the economic meltdown. He said that they were all champions as they had managed to perform in spite of difficulties such as premature college closures.
Participating universities were: Daystar University, Africa Nazarene University; Catholic University of Eastern Africa; Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology; University of Nairobi, St Pauls University; Kabarak University, Unite States International University; Kenyatta University; Moi University; Egerton University and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), Kenya was launched in 2003 following an M.O.U signed between SIFE International and Inter Region Economic Network (IREN Kenya). The Kenyan program has expanded from 5 universities in 2003 to the present 14. SIFE, founded in the United States in 1975, is the world's largest business and entrepreneurship organization that targets university students on over 1500 campuses in 47 countries.
Mentored by Faculty advisors and local business advisory boards, SIFE teams spend the academic year conducting educational outreach projects that focus on teaching others the principles of market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, sustainability and business ethics among communities.
SIFE: A head for Business... A heart for the World!