Enactus Competition Fuels Entrepreneurship on College Campuses

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Global Entrepreneurship is on the rise fueled in part by a worldwide community of Colleges’ and Universities’ efforts called Enactus whose mission is “Progress through Entrepreneurial Action.” The acronym is derived from Entrepreneurial Action and Us. The global non-profit organization was founded in the US in 1975, and now engages 66,500 students from 1,600 colleges and universities in 36 countries.


In the United States alone, there are 518 colleges and universities with 17,294 students participating in the program.  The Enactus community is made up of students, as well as academic and business leaders. By using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living, they are transforming lives and helping build a better and more sustainable world.


Each participating school forms a team and develops several community projects that are presented at competition events judged to be worthy of fulfilling the Enactus mission.  The winning teams compete annually for a national title and then go on to compete in a “World Cup” for an international title. At each level of competition, financial awards and prizes provided by corporate sponsors add to the competitive spirit.


The projects that are chosen and presented in the competition must satisfy some key objectives in order to win.

  • Impact of the project on the target audience with both a financial and quality of life improvement.

  • Sustainability of the project to continue to serve its original purpose.

  • Identify stakeholders who will commit to supporting the project and its action.

Each of the student participants gains experience by applying the core values of Imagination, Courage, Determination, Partnership, Accountability and Curiosity, which strengthens their own entrepreneurial skills and desire.


Under the leadership of Dr. Emmanuel Hernandez and its volunteer advisory board, Gulf Coast State College formed its first Enactus team in academic year 2013-2014 with just 11 participants. They competed Spring 2014 in Cincinnati Ohio nationally.  On its first attempt, the team garnered two very coveted trophies with its projects while competing with over 200 universities and colleges with teams that were much larger and experienced.  This year the team has grown to 24 members and 5 projects and will take part in the competition in April 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.


The benefits to the Enactus team at GCSC were more than just returning with the awards.  Each of the students came to realize how the smallest effort can change lives in their community and the world. This empowerment has given each of them a desire and the confidence that only an entrepreneurial experience such as Enactus can provide.


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Mike Ross
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, SBDC at GCSC
President at 4PSA – CLOUD CALLING – Cloud OnDemand – Virtual Phone Systems – Hosted UC, Orlando, Florida Area

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Boots to Business

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As we celebrate our veterans this month we pause to recognize those who make our freedom possible, especially with the efforts to assist our veteran population. The Veterans Business Outreach Center at Gulf Coast State College has undertaken a unique delivery of Boots to Business, pre-venture two day business training to those separating military members and their spouses at Panhandle Military Bases.

In August 2011, President Obama announced his comprehensive plan to address the issue of transitioning veterans finding meaningful employment opportunities in the civilian workforce. Specifically, the President directed the DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work closely with other Agencies, and with the President’s economic and domestic policy teams, in leading a task force that would develop a new training and service delivery model to help strengthen the transition of our Service Members from the military to civilian life. This included steps to improve the existing TAP (Transition Assistance Program) for Service Members.  TAP was renamed Transition GPS; Goals, Plans, Success.

The Boots to Business course is one of the three optional training tracks and is offered by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Other post military career tracks focus on employment and attending college.  Boots to Business is available to retiring and separating military members and their spouses who have designs on entrepreneurship.  Military members who complete the two-day seminar build their own feasibility study and take with them practical knowledge of what is next in starting a small veteran owned business in the Florida Panhandle or where ever they call home.

VBOC has been actively engaged in the delivery of the Boots to Business curriculum and has conducted 19 Boots to Business courses with 331 completers.  Jim Riley and Brent Peacock have been lead instructors with John Miller, Mike Ross, Bob Walz and Mike Calidonna in a supporting role for this two day event.  Although the program was developed by Syracuse University, the personal experiences of the instructors bring it to life.  Lively discussion of practical ‘this is how I did it when I left the service’ and ‘when I was an SBA Lender. . . .’ lend trust and honesty to the various modules with examples and stories to illustrate best practices on starting and running successful veteran owned ventures.  Both Mike Ross and Mike Calidonna are Air Force veterans who went on to be successful entrepreneurs and Bob Walz is a retired SBA lender and former SBDC Center Director. John Miller is a Certified Business Analyst with the VBOC along with Peacock and Riley.

Boots to Business graduates Christopher Laue and Daniella Lee have gone on to start successful businesses.  Christopher Laue attended Boots to Business at Tyndall Air Force Base before starting his Port St Joe based St Joe Velo Bicycle Shop.  Daniella Lee attended the Boots to Business at Eglin Air Force Base before starting Emerald Pointe Cosmetics LLC a Pensacola based cosmetic company.

Boots to Business completers are offered an eight-week online course provided by Syracuse University to take their skills to the next level. The VBOC has additional Boots to Business events scheduled through the remainder of the calendar year, and looks forward to assisting those separating veterans and spouses with their business endeavors.

America looks to its military veterans once again for economic recovery as business owners and leaders of industry, the VBOC at Gulf Coast State College is proud to serve those who have served.

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