Members of a University of Arizona student club have been partnering with Tucson nonprofits, drawing on entrepreneurship skills and methods to revitalize and strengthen those organizations.
Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise, is an international organization devoted to connecting students with business leaders to facilitate projects that can lead to healthier and more prosperous communities.
Supported by the UA Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the student-run chapter partners with community organizations to revamp their marketing strategies, helping such organizations to be better equipped to aid the communities they serve, often families in need.
In doing so, the UA student group is applying classroom teachings to help enhance, market and remodel organizations. Ultimately, the club trains both students and organizations to gain the critical skills and knowledge necessary to improve leadership and apply real-world best practices.
"We focus a lot on new businesses instead of retaining old ones, because once you help people we want them to be set to do it on their own and that is one of our goals," said Allison Raymond, a UA retailing and consumer science senior who serves as the club's public relations and marketing chair. The club has place in Enactus regional and national competitions and, last year, competed in the Enactus United States National Exposition.
Enactus has been working with TMM Family Service, Inc., previously known as Tucson Metropolitan Ministry, which serves at-risk children, families and seniors. The UA team has been helping the organization enhance its ReStore Outlet, which sells home appliances and furniture. All proceeds from the ReStore are used to support TMM’s services.
This week, the club is co-hosting a re-opening party for the organization. The two-day event will be held Dec. 13, 2-6 p.m., and Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, at the ReStore Outlet, 2958 E. 22nd St. Free food, entertainment, a petting zoo, games and face painting will be available at the event, which is free and open to the public.
"Right now, by taking action and applying what they're learning to benefit others in the community, students can make a difference," said Abra McAndrew, assistant director of student leadership and development at the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing.
"It's hugely empowering for students to realize that they don't have to wait until they have a degree or a big title to make change and contribute," McAndrew said. "With their boundless energy, once they get started there's no limit to the value students can create for the community."
Through the partnership, Enactus and TMM collaborated on the renovation of the ReStore Outlet to improve the atmosphere and enhance the shopping experience. As part of the reopening process, the UA Enactus team also has been reaching out to businesses for donations and marketing information about the outlet, Raymond said.
In the past and as part of the club's international effort, UA Enactus members traveled to Nigeria and spoke with young women about entrepreneurship topics, including marketing, inventory, customer service and product placement.
The club also has worked with the Skrappy’s Youth Center, which provides space and tools for artistic youth to express their talents. Members of the UA club mentored youth and informed them on ways to sell their artwork.
In another project, Enactus members taught elementary students about business concepts through the formation of the TerraCycle Brigade to collect 1,300 non-recyclable items.
As Enactus students note: "The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world."
McAndrew said that in addition to aiding the community, students involved in Enactus also see tremendous gains in terms of their own personal and professional development.
"This experience is different from the typical classroom experience or experience that they might have in a typical part-time job where the tasks are more well-defined and the rewards, such as a good grade or paycheck, are clear," McAndrew said.
"This hands-on experience working in a team, setting targets and goals with partners and coping with obstacles on the way to achieve those goals prepares them for relationships and careers in the future," she said. "In addition, students learn that business and social concerns go hand-in-hand – an important step to becoming both purpose-driven as well as profit-driven business leaders who understand that stronger communities are an important contributor to economic growth."
La Monica Everett-Haynes contributed to this article.