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Winners of Global Enterprise Challenge: Panama at McPherson College Propose Elementary School with 'Circular Model'

posted Nov 21, 2011 in ACADEMICS

In the end, it was Hope – or, rather, “Esperanza” – that won out.

Five teams of students at McPherson College had only three days to come up with an idea for a self-sustaining venture to help in Panama, 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.

“You were ready to get after it and you really build something this week,” said President Michael Schneider. “Any one of you would be able to go there and make something of it.”

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 will 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 plans to 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 Global Enterprise Challenge was the centerpiece event of McPherson College’s celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Founded in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation and Enterprise UK, this year Global Entrepreneurship Week boasts more than 40,000 events in 123 countries with more than 10 million worldwide participants.

The winning team of the Global Enterprise Challenge consists of mentor Dr Jonathan Frye, professor of natural science; Jacob Patrick, sophomore, Elizabeth, Colo.; Lara Neher, freshman, Grundy Center, Iowa; Emily James, junior, Westminster, Colo.; Sarah Neher, senior, Rochester, Minn. and Tabitha McCullough, senior, Hill City, Kan.

Nov. 18 was also the official launch and celebration of the college’s “Freedom to Jump” entrepreneurship initiative, which includes the Global Enterprise Challenge, the micro-grant Horizon Fund (which gave grants of up to $500 to one out of every 10 McPherson College students in its first year) and the new transformative entrepreneurship minor – allowing students in every major to add the value of entrepreneurship to their studies.

To help celebrate the launch of Freedom to Jump, the college invited as featured speaker Jeff Stamp, entrepreneur and inventor of innovative food products, such as Baked Lays. Among the advice he gave to the aspiring college entrepreneurs was to go beyond their great ideas and turn it into action.

“I challenge you, don’t let that idea set,” he said. “Keep pushing and make something of it.”

President Schneider agreed, just before announcing the winners. “It’s not about what happens tonight,” he said. “It’s about what happens tomorrow.”

Read more about the challenge and follow the team as they prepare to go to Panama at

The team members of “Esperanza” weren’t the only ones to walk away winners Friday night. About 60 submissions were sent in for another three challenges running throughout the week. The following is a list of all contests, winners and concepts:

Jump in for Change
The challenge: Identify a problem in the community and offer the first step to a solution.

First place, $500 in quarters: Estrella Medina, sophomore, Wichita, Kan.: There is not currently a thrift store in McPherson targeting college students. Medina proposed a student-run, student-targeted thrift store.

Second place, $300 in quarters: Natasha Chaney, sophomore, Edgerton, Kan: Some young children do not have proper winter-weather attire. Chaney proposes a clothing drive to provide backup clothes to schools.

Third place, $100 in quarters: Traci Anderson, junior, McPherson, Kan.: Few know about the McPherson Family Life Center website, Family Life Link, which can provide resources for parents in the community. She proposes partnering with area organizations to get the word out.

Think Globally, App Locally
The challenge: Develop a concept for a new iPad app.

Winners, iPad app and developer services: Ashley Evans, sophomore, Marion, Kan., and Melissa Kelly, junior, South Hutchinson, Kan. They propose an app that would help students to quickly and accurately find specific locations on campus. The idea could also apply for grocery or department stores to help shoppers find the location of a particular item.

Honorable mention, developer services: Sarah Neher, freshman, Grundy Center, Iowa. Neher proposed an app that helps people access a list of nearby shelters, food bank or soup kitchen to help direct people in need to places that can help.

Honorable mention, developer services: Lane Allison, senior, Greensburg, Kan. Allison would like to create an app called “College Works” that would let college students know about available jobs that are willing to hire students fresh out of college, allowing for a more reasonable, streamlined job search.

Honorable mention, developer services: Michelle Wilde, senior, McPherson, Kan. Wilde wants to create a “bucket list” app that would help people list, track and accomplish their list of experiences a person wants to complete before they day. The app would help connect the person to nearby services that could help them to accomplish their goals.

E-Team Challenge
The challenge: Come up with an entrepreneurial idea to help your student club or organization.

Winner, $500 and challenge course: Teachers of Tomorrow. They proposed increasing membership through a high-quality recruitment video, a competition on campus, a stipend to team leaders and a tutoring service to the local school district.

Skydiving Adventure
James Patton, junior, Cunningham, Kan., won the drawing for a skydiving adventure, given to one student present at Friday’s award ceremony and celebration.

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