Texas State Enactus chapter to compete in worldwide competition

Special to the Star
Seth Bleiler, Greg Souquette, Ali Ijaz, Mykayla Goodwin and Chelsea Watkins were members of the winning Enactus team that will travel to Bejing for the World Cup.

The Texas State University chapter of Enactus was named national champion at the Enactus United States National Exposition and will be representing the U.S. at the Enactus World Cup in Beijing, China.

Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), is an international business organization based on the concept of entrepreneurial action. According to the Enactus website, student teams develop community outreach projects to help and empower people in need by applying of business concepts.

As the national champions, Texas State will travel to the Enactus World Cup in October in Beijing, said Chelsea Watkins, Enactus president-elect. The group will be competing against teams from 36 countries that make up Enactus International as Team America.

At the national competition, held in Cincinnati, the Texas State team showcased four out of over 50 current projects to a panel of more than 100 judges, Watkins said.

The Texas State team finished first out of the 518 U.S. teams that competed after finishing in the top 20 for 15 of the past 17 years, according to an Enactus press release.

“Mobile Loaves and Fish” was one of the “biggest” projects showcased at the national competition, said Mykayla Goodwin, executive committee member. The project provides the homeless with employment by selling simple crafts at festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, as well as affordable housing, according to a video of the national competition.

The other project showcased was “Row,” which provides online services to help small businesses adapt to a “rapidly” changing digital environment and give them an online presence said Ali Ijaz, current Enactus President.

Initially a student-led project, “Row” has developed into a actual business that provides real jobs to its 13 employees, according to the presentation.

Texas State Enactus will spend next semester working on the continuation of the two projects and preparing for its World Cup presentation, which may prove challenging, Goodwin said.

“We may have as many as five of our six presenters out of state or out of country next semester,” Goodwin said. “So we will be meeting over the summer and practicing over Skype once the semester starts.”

A group including CEOs from Fortune 500 companies, like Coca-Cola, will judge the World Cup presentations, Watkins said.

The road to winning the 2014 national competition was “unusual,” because this was the first year without a regional competition, Watkins said. The team went straight to nationals.

“Without a regional competition, nationals was more than a month earlier than usual,” Goodwin said. “[This] gave the presentation team nearly a third less time to prepare and fine tune our presentation.”

Prior to nationals, the team gave its annual mock presentation with the dean of McCoy College of Business Administration, Texas State Enactus students and other members of the San Marcos community, Watkins said.

The team went to nationals with some concerns, but felt “confident and full of energy” in each round of their presentations, Watkins said.

Although the presentation itself is important, the teams are graded on five criteria, including their application of business concepts and whether their projects improved the quality of living for the project beneficiaries, Ijaz said.

A group of four executive committee members, with the oversight of the chapter’s faculty advisor, spent about four months writing the script and storyboard for the presentation, Ijaz said.

“For the World Cup, we’re going to make changes to our script to represent the U.S. in the best light we can,” Goodwin said.

As an Enactus member, Ijaz has had memorable experiences and made career connections.

“I’ve gotten to meet Doug McMillan, CEO of Walmart, several times over the last few years,” Ijaz said.

Ijaz said he hopes to leave with a World Cup win under his belt.

“Back in 2012, we got to observe the world cup in D.C.,” Ijaz said. “And it really motivated us to want to get there one day.”