Kansas City will soon become the entrepreneurial epicenter for a national, collegiate competition and conference challenging young innovators to do good in their communities.
From May 21 to 23, Kansas City will host more than 2,000 entrepreneurial college students for the Enactus United States National Exposition.
Founded in 1975, Enactus challenges students from more than 450 university chapters around the world to develop projects that create positive change through entrepreneurial action. At the Kansas City event, students from more than 100 U.S. universities will share the results of their projects, showcasing the impact they’ve made on their respective communities. Among the national qualifiers in 2017 is the student team from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which is comprised of about 80 students.
Held at the Kansas City Convention Center, the three-day conference will include networking, project expositions and several rounds of judging to determine the best project. The winner of the competition will qualify for the international competition in London this September.
Ben Williams, assistant director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said that he is proud of the UMKC team.
“We all know that these Enactus students are top quality, but they certainly did themselves proud again this year,” Williams said. “Just to make it to a competition a couple of years ago was a good accomplishment. Now, the team is shooting for the final four.”
The UMKC Enactus team has qualified for nationals for five consecutive years and was a national semifinalist in 2016. With area partners such as KCP&L, the Midwest Research Institute and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the team’s momentum is growing.
UMKC’s 2017 projects range from art entrepreneurship and increasing financial literacy to high school students to establishing business relationships with China.
Williams added that Enactus is not just for business students — the team also includes art, engineering and pharmacy students.
“Entrepreneurship is about finding a problem and creating a solution,” Williams said. “Every student across campus at UMKC has the opportunity to take on real projects, project management and leadership skills. This is creating a better workforce so that hopefully students are ready to tackle the entrepreneurial needs of Kansas City in the future.”
Williams said that the growth of Enactus in Kansas City is further solidifying the area’s reputation as a city for entrepreneurship. He added that the city’s focus on increasing entrepreneurial activity has created a positive culture for students and businesses alike.
“Success breeds further success,” Williams said. “Building a network in Kansas City has been a lot easier since the city said they wanted to become one of the most entrepreneurial cities. There is a larger concentration by UMKC in general to have more innovative students, which has led to more interested students.”