By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Students in Free Enterprise is an international organization, and the team at Central Texas College got a powerful lesson when a fledgling chapter in Nigeria adopted the local group to help it set up free enterprise education projects in Africa.
There are actually one or two other SIFE teams in Nigerian colleges, but a group of business students at Kogi State University heard of the CTC team and got the idea CTC was the national headquarters, said Dr. John Frith, business professor and SIFE faculty adviser. The world headquarters is actually in Springfield, Mo.
The local group pointed the Nigerians in the right direction to get set up properly and then started working on answering their call for a laptop computer, a projector and a digital camera – tools Dr. Frith says are essential for a team's functioning.
The local group is trying to raise $600 through candy sales, coffee and doughnut sales in the rotunda of the college's planetarium, and other ways, and has issued a call for benefactors to donate another $1,200. Recently, Sam's Club came through with a community grant of $420.
CTC SIFE member Clayton Knowles, who is heading the Kogi project, said, "Sam's Club has been a long-standing friend and major supporter of SIFE, and we are very grateful to receive this grant." The team applied for the grant in October on the encouragement of Temple Sam's Club general manager Jody Reed, a member of the team's advisory board.
The Kogi team has said it wants to teach the elements of free enterprise and the factors of production and foster an understanding of the relationship between profit and competition.
The local team has squirreled away about $11,000 in prize money from winning three consecutive first-place statewide awards and three consecutive fourth places in national competition on the quality of its programs. Dr. Frith said the team may use some of that to help the Kogi team start a "micro-loan" program to help Nigerian residents finance tiny businesses to lift themselves out of poverty. Micro-loans have become a popular third-world practice in recent years, but have not been used extensively in Nigeria.
The Louisiana State University SIFE team has applied the micro-loan program in various places, Dr. Frith said.
It's not the local team's first international venture. They got Nadia Salman, sister of former member Abdul Subhani, to set up a "chickenomics" educational game in the city school of Islamabad, Pakistan, and recently heard of good results from it. Subhani, a local information technology consultant, has taught at CTC.
"We have a lot to do this semester, but we're not sure of the order yet because we haven't held an organizational meeting yet," said Dr. Frith. "One thing we're certainly going to expand is our mystery shopper program. We have at least 30 new volunteer workers."
"Mystery shoppers" rate retailers and other customer-service businesses on quality of merchandise, friendliness of service and other factors by posing as customers. Large companies hire their own, and there are mystery-shopping firms, but SIFE performs the service on a volunteer basis for its educational value.
In other activities, members of the team, and Dr. Frith himself, make presentations to high school and college students on business ethics, using a game to ask them if they would return found money and other questions.
Team member Justin Waldeck is working on the "cookie factory" for grades 5 and up in local schools. The project teaches how to set up a factory, do a market survey and promote the product. Students learn how to set up a corporation.
Tom Creek of the National Bank at Copperas Cove assists with explaining finances and has even lent money – and got it all back. "It turns into a real little business," Dr. Frith said, "and it's always made a good profit."
A relatively new project is "Global Snacker," which teaches students in sixth grade and above about global trade by "importing" and "exporting" needed items to make "the perfect sandwich."
Other classes and workshops that teach the essentials of self-employment, household money management and investing have kept the team top-rated among similar teams in the state and close to the top in the nation for the past three years.
Further information is available at (254) 526-1248 or www.ctcsife.org.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Texas College Students in Free Enterprise president Karen Casey receives a $420 check from the Temple Sam's Club marketing and membership supervisor. At left is Sam's Club photo lab manager Linda Hernandez. To Casey's right, left to right, are SIFE members Karen McLendon and Heath Brown.