UMKC Business Students Represent the U.S. in Global Competition

Team of three entrepreneurial leaders travel to London
Three UMKC business students pose

During spring break, three UMKC Bloch School of Management students studied for hours per day. But the toil was worth the trouble, say Andrea Savage, Salem Habte and Ali Brandolino.

That’s because a global giant, Unilever, has invited them to represent the United States in the Unilever Future Leaders’ League, a business-case competition in London, the company’s world headquarters. Students from 26 countries will present their solutions to two business challenges April 10-12.

“This is incredible validation of our Enactus members and the education they are getting at UMKC. We feel beyond honored to be representing the United States in the upcoming competition.” Ali Brandolino

Photo of Andrea Savage, Salem Habte and Ali Brandolino

So just how did these UMKC students earn this coveted spot of being America’s business team?

All three students are members of UMKC Enactus, a group of about 100 students from a wide-ranging group of degree programs who use entrepreneurship to solve community problems. And the UMKC team won first place in the nation in 2018 for the best initiative to combat food waste. The effort is called FeedKC, which takes excess food from local restaurants and university cafeterias and delivers it to area homeless shelters.

So far, 3,300 pounds of food – or 3,300 meals – have fed people through FeedKC.

“Hunger is not a production issue, it’s a distribution issue,” says Savage, project manager of FeedKC. She was also the Bloch School’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year for the same project.

Savage, of Strafford, Missouri, volunteered for a Springfield organization like Harvesters before coming to UMKC, inspiring her to grow FeedKC. She sees lots of potential for more restaurants and businesses to donate, and she and a UMKC School of Computing and Engineering student, Blake Higgins, are working on a mobile app to help make that happen.

UMKC Enactus programs

And FeedKC is just one of half a dozen projects UMKC Enactus is sponsoring. There’s also Smiles and Kuts, a mobile salon in the Kansas City area to give children free haircuts to help boost confidence and self-esteem — for which the Enactus members are seeking out volunteer hair stylists.

And there’s Educate to Elevate, helping a village across the globe in Nigeria. For the past three years, Enactus’ aim has been to provide better infrastructure and basic needs care so the children of the village can have easier access to a better education. In the spring of 2017, the team helped facilitate the building of wells for cleaner water access, and it in 2018 raised funds for restroom facilities. Recently the team has raised raised $6,000 to start construction on school building.

“The goal is for the people to become empowered and the projects to be sustainable on their own,” says Habte, a junior and president of UMKC Enactus.

Enactus sponsors and Bloch School of Management faculty Ben Williams and Erin Blocher will be accompanying the team in the London competition.

Unilever is a corporate sponsor of Enactus USA. The winner of the global competition gets to help Unilever with business projects. Teams are preparing two pitches to solve needs of communities around the globe.

“We always talk about Enactus being an opportunity to implement the things we learn in the classroom, and I think this is incredible validation of our members and the education they are getting at UMKC,” says Brandolino, sophomore and vice president of Enactus. “We feel beyond honored to be representing the United States in the upcoming competition.”



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