Often times, Christians frown upon free enterprise as a ruthless profit-oriented economic system – however a new organization at Franciscan University called the Christian Association of Student Entrepreneurs (CASE) aims to bring together the idea of a free enterprise and Christian moral principles.
“Entrepreneurship and free enterprise systems merged with Christianity is one seriously powerful combination,” said Thomas Kelley, the founder and director of CASE, who was the advising professor of SIFE and Enactus in the past.
For past few decades, Franciscan University partook in an international organization called the Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE, that focused on promoting free enterprise by providing assistance to small business and development in the local community.
SIFE was very successful at Franciscan as its students time and again won championship at the annual regional competitions. In the past ten years, representing teams from Franciscan received more than dozen awards.
“We were very good and our students were outstanding,” Kelley commented.
Two years ago, SIFE was renamed Enactus and even though Franciscan continued to be involved with the organization, much of the emphasis shifted from the principle of a free enterprise which was the defining trait SIFE and the reason why it was so successful.
Last year, Franciscan University decided to start a brand new organization that would refocus on the free enterprise and introduce a new key trait, that is, the moral principle of Christianity, and that is how Christian Association of Student Entrepreneurs came to be.
“Nobody has done something quite like this before,” CJ Norris, the president of the new organization CASE, said.
“The main focus of CASE is to bring Christ into the market place and to apply the principle of morality and Christian teaching into business,” Norris said as he shared the mission of CASE with enthusiasm.
Because today’s society is very profit oriented, people think it is bad and that it cannot be reconciled to Christianity. According to Dr. Kelley that is not true. He stated, “We are basically bringing human aspect of everything back into the economy.”
CASE is a community-oriented organization that reaches beyond the scope of Franciscan University. It gives opportunity for Franciscan students to go outside of business class and apply what they learned in a real world sense.
Kelley firmly believes that students are being prepared to be business leaders of tomorrow who will succeed in the market place but do so with Christ in the center and a strong ethical foundation.
Many of the work has already started as CASE partners with other organization such as Acton Society and local businesses in hosting various events and business development. CASE is also working closely with Harmonium Project that focuses on revitalizing downtown Steubenville and Student Career Service.
Looking to the future, CASE strives to branch out and get other universities and colleges involved in this grandeur mission of establishing a firm foundational idea of combining free enterprise and Christian moral values, a mission worth pursuing.