Students in Free Enterprise

Clubbing with JR

By JR Ancheta
Sun Star Columnist

Found in more than 2,000 universities in 40 countries, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) is an organization that “helps in developing projects aimed at creating economic opportunity for others.” SIFE has a very active presence at UAF.

In 2006, after realizing that she has several students who enjoyed thinking about economics, SIFE advisor Sherri Wall started a club for those who didn’t want to be Economics majors. Students Who Like Economic Thinking was started, which then led to search for a national and international organization. “I did a Google Search and I’ve never done SIFE before,” Wall said. “I’m thinking ‘This kind of sounds like a good fit, maybe we could partner with them.’” Since then, the club’s membership has grown from five to 25, and the scope of their projects has increased.

Members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) meet at Bunnel Conference Room 216 Friday as they prepare for a Regional Competition in March. JR Ancheta / Sun Star

“The projects themselves have changed,” member Camilla Kennedy said. “Now the focus is more kind of having more sustainable projects.” SIFE has numerous projects, including Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking (SWEET). SWEET hosts a lecture series that has brought up several notables, including the late Ted Stevens, members of the State Legislature, business delegates, and others. SIFE also works on business incubators and outreach in rural Alaska communities.

In addition, SIFE has Project Ummid, a micro-finance program that gives loans to rural women in Jamsuth, India. SIFE organized Dwali night in December as one of their annual fundraisers for Project Ummid.

“I’ve kind of seen [this club] grow into a relatively well-established club,” said Sitara Chauhan, SIFE President. “It’s really amazing to have, in the last five years, become this avenue for people in our community to come to us and be like, ‘I want to work with you and do this.’”

Members of SIFE are also planning to travel to San Francisco for an annual regional competition on March 14 where they will present a report on the impact they’ve made in the previous year. “We’ve been regional champs twice,” said Wall. SIFE also won rookie team of the year.

SIFE meets every Friday at Room 216 at Bunnell Building from 5-6 p.m.. Anyone interested in becoming a member is welcome.

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