Written by Amber Smith
VSU Enactus, formerly known as Students In Free Enterprise, held a workshop Saturday at Pound Hall to discuss an upcoming project with VSU alumnus, Levy Odera.
Odera is a native of Kenya who was inspired to get an education by his desire to end poverty.
Odera spoke briefly Saturday about growing up in relative poverty and the strains that put on his family.
“I always thought, ‘Why poverty?” he said.
He found himself three years out of high school, unable to find work, unable to make a living from selling his artwork and unaware if he would ever be able to acquire a higher education, but he had a passion to end poverty in the world around him. Soon after, he was awarded a one year fellowship from Rotary to study in the U.S. This was when he enrolled at VSU.
Odera earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and economics as well as a master’s degree in public administration during his time at VSU. He went on to earn a master’s degree in political science at the University of Florida, where he is currently working on a Ph.D in political science.
Odera is making the most of the opportunities he has received by giving back and trying to improve the quality of life for the impoverished by helping them to build business opportunities.
Odera, his wife and three interns came to VSU on Saturday to discuss their current project, Solving Poverty In Real Time, with VSU Enactus. This initiative, known as the SPIReT project, has been described as an umbrella under which there are to be a few smaller projects.
The first of these projects, and the one primarily discussed during the workshop, is a poultry farm for women in Kenya. Enactus will play an active role in getting this business started and will send a group of members to work with the women directly over the summer.
The partnership is currently in the early stages, but Enactus members are very excited for the opportunity.
During the workshop, members came up with ideas for possible business plans and various other strategies in efforts to figure out how to make the business endeavor the best that it can be for all parties involved.
Odera will be meeting with Enactus members later this semester for a follow-up meeting.
The SPIReT project is also one of 250 semifinalists in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.
According to the DSIC FAQ, “The Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC) connects university students to the people, tools and opportunities they need to change the world. The challenge is part competition and part community. At DellChallenge.org, students compete for cash prizes to put their social innovation projects into action and connect with a worldwide community of supportive, likeminded [sic] educators and professionals.”
To find out more about the competition, check out the SPIReT Project’s profile.