Students in Free Enterprise strives to promote entrepreneurship

Students In Free Enterprise is an international nonprofit that is new to Geneseo. The SIFE Geneseo chapter originally started in 2009 but returned in 2011 with a renewed focus.

“The idea [behind SIFE] is to bring classroom knowledge to the real world and to raise the entrepreneurial spirit among students by carrying out projects that help the community,” said senior Wataru Fujimoto.

One project, Esperanza, imports wicker baskets made by Nicaraguan women. SIFE sells the baskets here for a profit that goes toward Esperanza. This project offers promising results, as it has employed 25 people in Nicaragua, installed 19 solar panels and sent four people to school.

Another project in progress is called Knight Trader, which Fujimoto says is much like Craigslist. The major difference, however, is that this website is solely for Geneseo students.

SIFE presented these projects at the SIFE Regional Competition in New York City last year, where SIFE Geneseo earned first runner-up in its league.

“This was our first time going to the SIFE Regionals, and we really didn’t know what to expect,” said SIFE president senior Emika Mizuno. “We were really happy to get first runners-up.”

Current projects include a cultural exchange project in Geneseo where members of the community can exchange cultural ideas and language, and a plan to get a sponsorship from Veritas Prep, a graduate schools consulting company.

“[The focus is] bringing the community together and improving the community. The way we approach it is to connect people in various ways so that they can mutually benefit from each other,” Fujimoto said. “This is the main goal of our projects.”

Though it is business-oriented, SIFE Geneseo is open to all students.

“We’re small, but we’re a motivated group of students. We always welcome newcomers,” Mizuno said.

“[SIFE offers] a real life, hands-on experience. It applies to the real world,” Fujimoto said. “If people knew about us, people would be willing to join … It’s for a good cause.”