During the second week in December 2009, six College of Business students and a College of Engineering student traveled to King’s College in London to learn about the “Students in Free Enterprise” (SIFE) program. SIFE is “an international not-for-profit organization that brings business executives, academic leaders and university students together to develop sustainable enterprising solutions” for community development (www.sife.org). It has chapters in many leading U.S., European, Asian, South American, and African universities but has not yet established itself in the Arab world. The King’s College SIFE team was crowned as the ‘2009 National Champions’ for the United Kingdom and participated in the SIFE World Cup in Germany earlier this year.

Accompanied by Dean Norman Wright, and Dr. Dennis Greer, Professor of Accounting and Information Systems, of the College of Business, Alfaisal University students were shown the award winning presentation of the King’s College SIFE program by Farihah Alam, President,SIFE at King’s College, and Alex Kantor, SIFE Vice President as well as other members of the championship team. The Alfaisal University students saw examples of some of the 30 KC student projects that benefit the less affluent ranging from establishing an apple juice operation on the campus of a school for the handicapped to helping form a community-based jewelry business for a group of impoverished women and children in the Philippines.

As part of the training, Alfaisal University students presented project ideas of their own including projects to help farmers operate in a more environmentally sustainable way while also increasing profits, provide entrepreneurial training for high school students, establish home based businesses for single mothers, and develop the employment and business skills of disadvantaged immigrant families. These project proposals were critiqued by experienced King’s College team members and London and Riyadh teams worked together to move the ideas closer to be implemented upon the students return to Riyadh.

While the students worked hard to understand the Students in Free Enterprise Program and initiate their own projects, they also took time to visit several cultural and historical sites. One favorite was the “Bank of England Museum” in the financial district of central London. There they learnt about the history of currency, the gold standard, and inflation through a series of interactive exhibits. Another highlight was a visit to the ‘Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising’. The students saw how many of our favorite brands developed, holding market share through time by improved packaging and advertising.

Overall, the trip was a resounding success and an important part of establishing one of the College of Business’ key co-curricular programs, Students in Free Enterprise. As a result of this time together, King’s College SIFE and the College of Business have agreed to partner over the next several years in developing meaningful SIFE projects in the Gulf and beyond.

It is expected that Alfaisal University, through this partnership, will play a key role in bringing SIFE to the Arabian Gulf thereby creating a positive impact on thousands of lives through entrepreneurship and innovation in the years to come. Congratulations to
Abdullah Al-Ibrahim, Ibrahim Al-Shalan, Abdulrahman Al-Subaye, Faisal Al-Shbaily, Rakan Abdulmonem Alrashed, Ibrahim Al- Khorayef, and Mohamed Al-Sheheel for caring enough about those less fortunate than themselves to commit to improving lives by harnessing the positive power of business.