McPherson Cultivates Entrepreneurs on Campus and Across Kansas
Mar 26, 2012
In the second year of the Global Enterprise Challenge at the college in November 2011, students were challenged to come up with an idea for a sustainable venture to help the people of Panama. The five teams of students at had only three days, but those five teams took on the challenge whole-heartedly. Each team had the seed of an idea with the great potential to take root and help the people of Panama.
But only one team could receive the scholarships and all-expenses paid trip to Panama to explore what it would take to make their idea a reality. The winning team proposed “Esperanza: Cultivating with Compassion.” The concept is to establish a grade school in Panama with a circular model. This means that the Panamanian community would help sponsor promising students to receive higher education. In return, those students commit to returning to the community as a teacher to help the next generation. Esperanza also would help members of the Panamanian community possessing a craft, trade or knowledge that would be of value outside of Panama to connect into opportunities to sell abroad. The team is now meeting and preparing to journey to Panama in early summer 2012.
And the college has now taken steps to not just develop entrepreneurs at the college, but also statewide. In the first-ever Jump Start Kansas competition, McPherson College challenged all high school students in Kansas to submit their ideas for an entrepreneurial venture – either commercial or non-profit. On Feb. 15, 10 finalists – five in each category – presented their ideas for a shot at the top prize – a $5,000 grant to pursue their idea and a $5,000 annual scholarship should they choose to attend McPherson College.
The winners in the commercial category were Damien Gilbert and Colin Johnson of Wichita with their business SteelSalvation. Gilbert and Johnson presented an idea to take recycled scrap steel and turn it into clean, durable and environmentally friendly water bottles. They framed the business as one way to counter the flood of disposable plastic water bottles thrown away every day – about 700 every second in the United States alone, they said. The potential for profit was also substantial: They expected that selling the water bottles could net them a whopping 1,900 percent profit and $100,000 in their first year.
The top prize in the non-profit category went to Kenan Meadows, Marcus Sheppard and Joseph Belcher of Kansas City, Kan., with their organization Kcteenlink. Kcteenlink.org is a non-profit website designed to give teenagers a forum to ask difficult or hard-to-find questions from experts in a variety of fields – careers, education, fashion, technology sports and more. They also envision it as a place for creative teenagers to showcase their work and get exposure – such as game designers, musicians and artists. The Kcteenlink team was already well on their way before the competition, having forged partnerships and landing a total of $30,000 in grants. The Jump Start Kansas grant has got them thinking beyond Kansas City and extending the site to all of Kansas and even beyond.
“This was a great opportunity,” Meadows said. “This is going to be huge.”
Guest post submitted by Adam Pracht of McPherson College