Project Development

Dressed in his finest blazer and supported by a PowerPoint presentation, Bram de Roos spoke eagerly about professionalism, sustainability and commitment to a room full of students on Thursday night.

Though the atmosphere seemed akin to that of a board meeting at a major organization, Roos was not attempting to sell a corporate project. Instead he was a GW student in an Elliott School conference room, selling his new organization to prospective student members.

The organization is known as Students in a Free Enterprise. Introduced at GW last semester, it is an offshoot of an international organization that encourages engagement in social issues by working with real people and helping them make real money.

The official goal of the GW group is to “make a difference in the local and global community through development projects that stimulate, implement and teach the principles of free enterprise.”

Roos, an Elliott School graduate student, founded the GW chapter of SIFE as well as a chapter at his undergraduate school in the Netherlands. When he moved to D.C., Roos decided to bring the organization with him after experiencing what he calls the “student organization vibe” at GW, which described as infectious and “sort of a virus.”

He said most other student organizations are more about providing networking opportunities than hands-on experience, and he felt SIFE could fill a gap in the GW community.

The program runs with the help of faculty advisor Steve Charnovitz, the director of international trade and investment policy at the Elliott School, and a business advisory board comprised of working professionals. Both the board and Charnovitz advise SIFE members on project endeavors.

Though the organization is relatively new and membership currently stands at 10 students, after one semester the SIFE chapter is booming with ideas for future projects. The ideas focus on helping local communities by introducing marketing and business techniques to produce a profit. One such plan involves teaching local school children to grow vegetables and sell at farmers’ markets.

This semester, in addition to beginning local projects, the group is also hoping to attract new membership. With more members, Roos hopes they can make progress on more projects.

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