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SIFE wins national championship again

Check out the Belmont SIFE team’s award-winning presentation in the final round of the SIFE National Championship below.

When recent Belmont graduate Katherine Richardson saw Belmont’s Students in Free Enterprise team win the organization’s national championship in 2010, she had just joined the university’s chapter and was impressed by what Belmont and other chapters had done with other non-profit groups around the world.

“I was just struck at how complex [the projects] were and how much good they did in their community,” she said.

Two years later, the international business and social entrepreneurship double major became president of Belmont’s SIFE chapter. And last week, they had won the group’s national championship again.

“I think our jaws were on the floor,” Richardon said after the group learned they had won. “There were tears. There was laughter. There were hugs.”

The group’s championship in Kansas City, Mo. came after a long year that included working with 10 businesses to help create social change in the Nashville community, Richardson said. They focused on four of these businesses in their three rounds of presentation, which were judged by industry leaders for their ability to help their local communities and environment through profitable business.

The four projects the group focused on were Spring Back Recycling a SIFE-started mattress recycling business that employs former inmates, FashionABLE, a business that sells scarves that provides an income for former Ethiopian prostitutes, Be a Blessing, which sold bracelets to benefit an orphanage in Guatemala, and Philanthroteach, which helps prepare Nashville’s unemployed and disadvantaged with jobs skills with Nashville academic and professional leaders.

With their win, the group will once again represent the U.S. in the SIFE World Cup, which will be held in late September and early October in Washington, D.C. The competition will be hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had pre-taped a video congratulating the winners and welcoming them to Washington to take part in the competition.

“They played that before they announced the winners,” she said. “We were truly esctatic.”

The eight-year old group’s work has been a prime example of successful enterprises that make a difference, Dr. John Gonas, one of the group’s faculty sponsors, said in a statement.

“Belmont SIFE students continue to demonstrate that they have the ability to create and apply complex business models to lasting social change,” he said. “These models are not only sustainable, but are also economically profitable and even scalable. I am honored and blessed to help steward these young men and women who tirelessly take what they’re learning in the classroom and give it away.”

Richardson said the group’s faculty advisors played a huge role in the group’s past, present and future work.

“We have been blessed by our faculty advisors,” she said. “They’re the ones, that as students come in and out on a four year rotation, keep the group going.”

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