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Scholarship helps ASU student focus on driving social change

August 14, 2013

Michael Mefford, a junior majoring in economics and supply chain management at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, has been awarded the FSW Funding Entrepreneurial Scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year. Founded by the privately owned lending company Factors Southwest Funding, the award is given each year to students who embody the entrepreneurial spirit.

Mefford, an Ahwatukee, Ariz. resident, is the vice president of the ASU chapter of the Enactus Club, an international community of student, civic and business entrepreneurs focused on shaping a sustainable world. He helped launch the chapter in 2011 during his freshman year, along with other similar-minded students – including Jake Irwin, co-founder of FlashFood, a mobile food recovery network that helps manage food pickup and distribution of leftovers from restaurants to local community centers and churches.

"I am currently working on an Enactus Club project called the Global Food Registry,” Mefford said. “The program hopes to improve public access and awareness of local food and beverage options by providing residents a directory that highlights local food vendors ranging from restaurants to farmers markets, as well as food-related educational programs available in the community. In the end, it will help reduce food waste and enable people to locate healthier options that stimulate the local economy."

Robyn Barrett, the founder and managing member of Phoenix-based FSW Funding, said encouraging students like Mefford helps to move communities forward.

“This is the fourth year we’ve awarded the scholarship to an ASU student,” noted Barrett. “We work with small and mid-size companies, many of which started through an entrepreneurial idea. We now want to encourage the next generation of ideas.”

Mefford said the $2,000 scholarship will help toward his college expenses.

In addition to developing the Global Food Registry, the W. P. Carey School of Business student is involved in Enactus Club projects, such as Access2Technology and Learning Institute for Vocational Education (LIVE). The ventures are centered on repurposing discarded technology items and providing occupational education to individuals from low-income households in the Indian town of Jalore.

“Our goal is to create projects and organizations that not only have an economic, environmental and social impact, but are also sustainable and community-driven,” he said.

Mefford stressed that Changemaker Central, a student-run entrepreneurship program at ASU, has allowed students like him to establish groups that drive social change. According to him, working with mentors such as the W. P. Carey School’s director of entrepreneurial initiatives Sidnee Peck and lecturer Rhett Trujillo, combined with sessions on student entrepreneurship at Changemaker, helped the projects to evolve.

Mefford wishes to venture into risk management for businesses upon graduation, but for now, he is focused on exploring possibilities and challenges that college life has to offer.