Helping hands: SIFE students Jess Pasisi (left) and Paula Tabua, with some of the groups Maungatautari bottles.
Waikato University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) have been helping raise funds for the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (MEIT) – the largest ecological restoration project in New Zealand.
SIFE is a non-profit global organisation that encourages university students to work on sustainable community ventures.
Jess Pasisi is a management student with a passion for conservation so for her the challenge was to come up with a worthwhile product that could help the Trust to carry on its restoration work.
SIFE is selling BPA-free stainless steel drink bottles that feature pictures of the flora and fauna of Maungatautari.
“We first thought we’d sell bags with the MEIT logo but then our business advisers recommended we come up with a fresher idea and we hit on the re-useable plastic-free bottles,” says Pasisi. Hamilton’s Trek ‘n’ Travel outdoor shop came to the party and advanced 200 bottles.
“We couldn’t have done it without Trek ‘n’ Travel. We have to pay them back the cost price but everything we make above that goes back to MEIT.”
For Paula Tabua, who’s studying marketing and PR at Waikato, it’s been good to get some real world experience.
“We’ve been selling our product at different events, and each time we pick up new ideas or better ways of communicating with customers and promoting the bottles. That’s something you can’t learn in the classroom. The hands-on experience is really good.”
The MEIT project is one of several that about 30 SIFE students from across the university are working on. They have a Business Advisory Board that gives them advice and direction as they work on establishing successful enterprises.
One group is working with small businesses to help them reduce their electricity consumption, another project, which has been developed over a number of years, is helping people with financial literacy.
Bottles up: The bottles feature images of flora and fauna of Maungatautari.
On campus, SIFE members are consulting to Muni and Sruti - a vegetarian restaurant that sends its profits back to India, to Wesmo – the group of university students building and racing a Formula SAE car, and another group has been securing advertising for the University radio station Contact FM.
The Waikato SIFE team travels to Auckland in July to compete against AUT for a place at SIFE World Cup being held in Los Angeles in October. For more information please email [email protected]