Earlier this week SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) announced the launch of SIFE Ireland, making Ireland the 39th country to join the world’s largest university-based partnership between business and higher education for social change…

At the launch in the Aviva stadium in Dublin, Leinster Rugby captain Leo Cullen confirmed he will join the board of SIFE Ireland as a non-executive director.

Founded in the US in 1975, SIFE is an international, not-for-profit organisation which encourages university students to make a positive difference to their communities, while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders of the future.

The establishment of SIFE Ireland means students from the first four Irish universities – Dublin City University, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin – will take part in SIFE’s annual competition to reward student social entrepreneurship for the first time. The student teams are being challenged to apply their applied learning to develop outreach projects designed to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need in a practical way.

The teams will present their projects to a judging panel of senior Irish business leaders at a national competition which will be held in Dublin on 29th May this year. The winning team will progress to represent Ireland at the prestigious SIFE 2012 World Cup, which takes place in Washington DC from 30th September to 2nd October. The Irish team will also join with the other finalists from around the world at an event hosted by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton

The establishment of SIFE Ireland comes as a result of KPMG’s long-standing international support for the initiative. The firm has been involved with SIFE in the US since 1990, helping grow the programme globally and, today, works with SIFE in over 30 countries worldwide.

The establishment of SIFE Ireland is being supported by Arthur Cox, Chartis, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, The Ireland Funds, KBC Bank, KPMG, McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland, The Irish Times, Unilever and Senator Feargal Quinn.

Launching SIFE Ireland, Terence O’Rourke, Managing Partner, KPMG and Chairperson of SIFE Ireland, said; “KPMG is delighted to bring SIFE to Ireland for the first time. It’s a remarkable initiative, which KPMG is proud to have a long-standing association with. This really is a fantastic opportunity for Irish university students to showcase their talent and skills in a practical way. It’s about ensuring our next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs act in a more socially aware and responsible way for the benefit of their communities. The students have a tremendous role model in Leo Cullen, whom I welcome warmly to the Board of SIFE Ireland as a non-executive director. I wish the students from our first four universities success with their projects and presentations at the national competition in May and look forward to seeing SIFE Ireland establish itself as Ireland’s leading programme for social change through business. I’m delighted also that so many companies and individuals have pledged their support to the establishment of SIFE Ireland.”

Speaking at the launch of SIFE Ireland, Leinster captain Leo Cullen said; “It’s an honour to join the Board of SIFE Ireland and have the opportunity to work with so many young people who feel as passionately as I do about innovating social change. Now, more than ever, it’s important that students realise how their skills and abilities can be fulfilled personally to effect positive change for people less well off in our society. It’s a powerful message and the reason I’m delighted to lend my support to SIFE Ireland.”

Student Daithí de Buitléir of DCU SIFE added; “Joining SIFE has been a brilliant experience so far. I’m really enjoying the challenge of working as part of a team on a project which can make a real difference to other people’s lives. It’s been great getting to know other students too who are just as interested in giving something back. We’ve had a lot of fun and success with all our fundraising events and we’re looking forward to telling everyone about our work at the national competition in May.”