GLOBAL: Nigerian students scoop award in 'world cup'

Nigeria's Obafemi Awolowo University clinched second place in an international higher education competition aimed, among other things, at sharpening student skills by testing their understanding of market economics. More than 1,500 students, academics and business people from 41 countries converged in Singapore last month for the Students in Free Enterprise 'world Cup'.

The contest was won by Canada's Memorial University of Newfoundland while India's Alpha Arts and Science College came third followed by Singapore Polytechnic. Last year, the competition was won by the University of Zimbabwe.

The competition, organised by the global non-profit organisation Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), was held from 1 to 3 October at Suntec City's Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. SIFE - whose motto is "A head for business. A heart for the world" - works in partership with business and higher education and establishes student teams on university campuses.

According to SIFE, participating teams develop community and educational outreach projects that teach entrepreneurship, market economics, business ethics and finance - and make a difference to the lives of others. The teams are led by faculty advisors and create projects that focus on SIFE's six topics: market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, environmental sustainability and business ethics.

Every country that operates a SIFE organisation is eligible to send a national team to the 'world cup', according to the SIFE website. Students present the results of outreach projects against one another for the world title. "In addition to the competition, events such as the culture fair provide an exhibit of the rich diversity of cultures represented within SIFE."

Last month's contest had teams from the United States, UK, Australia and China, among many other countries. Africa was well represented by teams from Kenya's Moi University, Swaziland's Nazarene Training College and South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The winning team, from Memorial University, highlighted 16 projects including Think Green and Moulder of Dreams, according to a statement by the non-government organisation Ace Canada ( Think Green provides elementary school children with skills to run a recycling business, and in 2007-08 raised Can$71,836 that was reinvested in local schools.

Moulder of Dreams is a pottery studio that was re-opened with SIFE Memorial's help to provide people with Myotonic Dystrophy the therapeutic benefits of moulding pottery. The students secured a $428,000 government grant, hired eight workers (including five with special needs) and forged distribution deals enabling the studio to become a business. The project involved 93 students who committed 23,000 hours of volunteer service and reinvested Can$1.4 million into the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador this past year alone.

The SIFE student 'world cup' was first held in London, UK, in 2001 and universities from 17 countries participated. Next year it will take place in Berlin, Germany, from 4 to 6 October.