Student entrepreneurs lead rewarding cause
Some may wear them for comfort.
Others may wear them for style.
However, all will wear them for a great cause.
High top sneakers made of manta — a traditional coarse-textured fabric originating from South America — are the latest fashion trend from Peru to Milledgeville.
Georgia College entrepreneurship students are selling the handmade shoes on front campus starting at 9 a.m. Saturday during this year’s campus Family Day and community Deep Roots Festival.
“The proceeds from these handmade shoes will support local and Peru education initiatives, and also help other entrepreneurs on global levels,” said Alvaro De La Torre, Georgia College senior management major and president of student program Enactus. “They are great shoes for a great cause.”
A native of Lima, Peru, De La Torre noticed tourists wearing the colorful shoes while visiting his family in the city of Cuzco.
“Tourists were wearing them every where,” De La Torre said. “I always wanted to operate my own business and thought selling these popular shoes could become a starting point, but I knew the project would require a lot of work.”
On campus, De La Torre heard about Georgia College’s new student program Enactus, which encourages leaders of today to participate in social entrepreneurship home and abroad.
De La Torre pitched his idea to sell the shoes on campus and in communities, and it was approved.
Sixty pairs have been ordered and will start selling during the weekend events.
“These students are committed to making an international impact,” said Dr. Renée J. Fontenot, faculty adviser. “They are gaining the necessary skills needed for small business ownership while engaging in community outreach.”
The university program is part of international nonprofit organization Enactus, bringing together academic, student and business leaders for entrepreneurial projects that improve the lives of people in need.
“Being part of this program is a great business experience that connects our majors,” said Orchid Jackson, Enactus member and graduate student in Georgia College’s Master of Business Administration program. “We’re also reaching a lot of people.”
The Georgia College group meets Tuesdays to discuss various projects to help local and global communities.
The students also sell fresh herbs Saturdays at Milledgeville Farmers’ Market.
The group lends its profits to entrepreneurs on nonprofit organization Kiva.org, which connects struggling business owners across the globe with lenders to help alleviate poverty. Kiva permits lenders to invest as little as $25 to help create a business opportunity.
“The market profits have been used to fund many projects like Kiva.org and relief efforts for Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami,” said Fontenot. “This year the profits from the herbs have been used as seed money for our new shoe venture.”
University programs have the opportunity to showcase their various campus projects at Enactus’ national competitions. Judged by business leaders, the annual competitions allow students to present the impact of their community outreach efforts.
Winners of the national competitions are then invited to compete in the Enactus World Cup. During 2011, more than 33,000 attended the student competitions.
“Last year, our students were able to network with buyers and hires during an Enactus regional meeting in Atlanta,” said Fontenot. “We plan to compete on the national level next year because our students are really making a difference.”
About the shoes
Name: Phuyupata shoes
Sizes: 4 to 12, women’s and men’s
Colors: Black, brown, gray, blue and orange
For more information, call 478-696-0469 or 912-399-7607.