WKU students are becoming young entrepreneurs and business professionals one conference at a time through WKU’s chapter of ENACTUS, a national student organization dedicated to promoting business ideals and instilling them in college-aged students.
Recently, the WKU chapter of ENACTUS was named a regional champion after a competition in Chicago against universities from across the Southeastern region. The group advanced to the National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, which will take place in May.
The event will feature different entrepreneurial action showcases, demonstrating the work of various university chapters across the nation.
J. Krist Schell, executive-in-residence for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and faculty adviser for the team, got involved with WKU ENACTUS because he said he was looking for a way to contribute to the missions of both WKU and the Gordon Ford College of Business.
“I wanted a way to foster applied learning experiences through the positive power of entrepreneurship,” Schell said. “Being part of positive change and helping great students apply what they have learned and get outstanding career-building experiences has been wonderful.”
The team is comprised of 17 students who work to solve problems within the Bowling Green community in an entrepreneurial way. Their projects, once fully integrated into the community, will continue to operate after ENACTUS steps away and continues to generate impact in the future, said chief information officer and inventory solutions project leader Emily Peck, a senior in the college of business.
“The projects that we implement do not seek to provide handouts or temporary solutions,” Peck said. “Rather, these projects foster partnerships in the community that are long standing and mutually beneficial. My involvement in these projects has led to countless hours spent in collaboration. Getting to work with all of these individuals to accomplish our project goals creates such close relationships that have greatly enriched my experience at WKU.”
ENACTUS has gotten involved with the community in several ways, including helping a local food bank with data inventory and through a bus project designed to reduce unemployment in Bowling Green.
One project, Inventory Solutions, helps HOTEL INC, which gives assistance with transportation to those in need, reduce food shortages and uses Microsoft Excel and Access to organize inventory and help its food pantry uphold high stock levels.
They have also created Job Bus Project to help reduce unemployment through a ride-share program that connects residential areas that are often faced with high rates of unemployment, along with the Bowling Green Angels Project, which connects entrepreneurs to angel investors to kickstart new business.
Perhaps their most well-known project is the Bowling Green Night Market, a monthly event downtown to promote business growth in the city, Peck said.
“Night Market is a monthly event downtown that allows local entrepreneurs a place to sell their products and improve their business skills,” Peck said. “Through all these experiences, my favorite part is the friendships I have made. ENACTUS has prepared me for the job market in more ways than I can name. ENACTUS has been a crash-course in learning to work in diverse teams to tackle complex problems that lack straight-forward solutions.”
Through specific community projects and encouraging entrepreneurial development, ENACTUS strives to provide hands-on, technical experience for its participants. The skills they gain from this organization are what Schell said make him the most proud.
“When the team takes real ownership of a project and dynamically solves problems by sourcing solutions on their own, that is really the greatest feeling as an adviser—watching your folks make their own wings and fly by themselves,” he said.
Features reporter Noah Moore can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @noah_moore18.