Digital blockchain-based elections wins business award
A proposal to implement a digital blockchain-based solution for transparent, authentic and secure elections in South Africa has won a team lead by Victoria Business School graduate Sebastian Brockelsby the top award in the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) business competition for 2019.
The team made up of students from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Vanuatu, Nigeria, and South Africa, each won $500 in prize money for their work. Sebastian was also awarded the BMW Group Champion Global Leader award for his skill in leading the dispersed international team.
The proposal was inspired by the current electoral process in South Africa which is affected by inefficiencies and vulnerabilities including concerns around electoral fraud, vote processing inaccuracies, and excessive costs. The team proposed that a digital voting system supported by blockchain technology would not only optimise the process and save money but would be completely transparent.
“The Global Enterprise Experience has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding projects I’ve ever been involved in,” says Sebastian. “There’s been many ups and downs, sleepless nights, unexpected challenges and even tragic events. If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt, it’s that I really still have a lot to learn.”
This year’s competition saw the introduction of a new Champion Social Entrepreneur award which provides $4000 of seed venture funding to make the winning team’s idea happen. This was jointly won by Bachelor of Commerce student Georgia Lowrey and Agbanagba Racheal Aweruswo of Nigeria for their proposal to help women growing tomatoes in Nigeria. They have committed to providing bottling, labelling and brand marketing for village women growing tomatoes in Nigeria to help prevent losses of over 40% during the post-harvest stage.
“The experience was truly eye opening – especially in the early stages when other team mates would talk about some issues they are currently facing in the areas they live in. I very quickly was reminded how lucky we are to live in New Zealand,” says Georgia. “The most valuable part of the challenge was the chance to work with people from different cultures and learning how to adapt to their style of work. It was absolutely invaluable and is definitely something that will benefit me after I leave university.”
The three-week contest had teams of eight working on a business proposal that fosters decent work and economic growth, in line with Goal 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The teams are made up of 1275 participants from 128 universities and 65 organisations in 55 countries, and the majority of the teams are led by Victoria University of Wellington students.
GEE organiser Deb Gilbertson says the competition is committed to encouraging peer leadership, which sees all team members stepping up to take responsibility for the success of the team.
"It was thrilling to see team members realise they had the power to influence the other members of their team, and it was heart-warming to see the New-Zealand based leaders encourage leadership in their teammates. This is the key to groundswell movements of citizens tackling the world’s social issues."
Solar power chargers for Nigerian students
A business proposal to distribute portable solar chargers to tertiary students in Nigeria has won the top award in the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) business competition for 2018.
Melanie Davis, a Bachelor of Commerce student at Victoria University of Wellington, accepted the Champion Team Award at the award ceremony in New Zealand’s Parliament, on behalf of her global team. She used virtual technology to lead her team colleagues living in New Zealand, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.
The three-week contest saw 107 multi-national teams of eight working on business proposals to foster decent work and economic growth, in line with Goal 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The teams are made up of 859 participants from 102 universities in 51 countries. All teams are led from New Zealand, and Victoria University is the global home of the contest.
The winning proposal was inspired by Nigerian team member, Abdulganiy Abdulqudus Oluwaseun, who described the challenges facing students in his country, “Over 60% of Nigerians lack access to reliable energy. To charge their computers and cell phones students expose themselves to rape, theft and exposure to emission of carbon monoxide from generators.”
Melanie was approached by a potential investor during the awards ceremony to make her team’s proposal a reality. “If you’re given an opportunity like this, you have to make it happen—someone obviously believes in you.”
The international focus of the competition, Melanie says, gave her real-world experience and increased her understanding of cross-cultural global management—skills and knowledge that she plans to use in her career.
“The biggest thing this competition taught me is how to work with a variety of cultures, and communicate in such a way that everyone in my team could understand me and contribute.
“I never got the chance to do an overseas exchange, but this project was my opportunity to do so.”
Victoria University Bachelor of Commerce student, Tejal Lad, won the Champion Global Leader Award. She was an inspirational leader to her virtual global team members who live in China, Ireland, New Zealand, Thailand, the Netherlands and Uganda.
Tejal grew up in Fiji and was concerned at the poverty faced by Fijian women. She encouraged her team to develop a proposal to craft decorated tote bags from recycled sugar sacks in Fiji. Tejal says, “This was the most satisfying project I have ever worked on.” Like Melanie she is now committed to making her venture happen.
Burundian, Denis Ndayizeye, won the New Venture Award of NZ$1000 seed funding to make his team’s proposal for sauerkraut happen. He set up a trust of the most impoverished women in Burundi that uses business as a pathway out of poverty.
Burundi is a troubled country with the highest rate of food insecurity in the world. While farmers can grow cabbages, surplus production simply rots. Sauerkraut is a lacto-fermented cabbage that stores well and provides gut flora to enhance digestion and health. Denis, with the support of his team from New Zealand, Colombia, Rwanda, Burundi and the Netherlands, provided a detailed proposal of how to support impoverished women to trial sauerkraut in Burundi.
Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin who hosted the awards said, “For too long the west has imposed sustainable solutions on others instead of with others. This contest is meaningful – it develops the skills to listen and appreciate different views, build relationships, and together as teams create solutions for the world’s social issues.”
Hip fracture prevention airbag in China
SoftWear, a proposed hip fracture prevention technology that triggers an airbag when falling, has won the top award in a global business competition.
Isaiah Ratahi, a student from Victoria Business School, accepted the 2017 Global Enterprise Experience Victoria University of Wellington Champion Team Award at a function at Parliament on behalf of his team members from China, Netherlands, Dominican Republic and New Zealand.
Ratahi’s team was one of 116 teams competing in the contest. Participants came from 169 universities in 57 countries and were all led by New Zealand’s Victoria University students. They had three weeks to communicate in cyberspace and develop a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service that applies appropriate technology to foster wellbeing.
“We chose China because of the rapid rise in the number of elderly, but their adult children have migrated away to the booming cities unable to provide hands-on for their parents. The hip care technology has been prototyped by three companies, but it will be many years before they expand their business from Europe and America to take on the Chinese market” says Ratahi.
It was a family affair, with Isaiah’s twin brother Tré Ratahi winning the Champion Global Leader Award. Both brothers chose to shift their sleep pattern to stay awake throughout the night to keep better contact with their respective global team members. Tré’s team members came from Iran, Nepal, Netherlands, Rwanda, Nigeria and New Zealand.
“I had to take special care of my Iranian member who is a member of the Baha’i Faith”, Tré Ratahi said. “I did not want her to spend five years in prison like her Baha’i compatriot and former Global Enterprise Experience participant, Aziz Samandari. He was charged with the crimes of “communicating with foreigners” and “an association with the Baha’i university”. She is also part of this university where 700 academics secretly teach Iranian Baha’is who are banned from study by their government.”
She won a Commitment Award along with her Nigerian team member, Udeji Samuel Uchenna. Tre Ratahi said, “He was a fantastic peer leader, fully committed to the team effort while boosting team morale. He ran his own business, so I actually don’t know when his bed time is because he was always online, helping in some form or another”.
“This year we pushed the team members from around the world to step up as peer leaders”, said Deb Gilbertson, the programme organiser. “We wanted every member to take responsibility for team creativity, communication, decision making, culture, inclusion, ethics, values and performance, not just the designated New Zealand leader. Peer leadership is the core skill to thrive in our exponentially changing world”.
Brenda Mangente from the United States won the University of Otago Business School Global Peer Leader Award for her outstanding commitment to her team’s project on recycling underutilised goods in India.
The award was hosted by Hon Paul Goldsmith (Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment). The judges were David Rutherford (NZ Chief Human Rights Commissioner), Sir Ray Avery (social entrepreneur and New Zealander of the Year), Sueli Georgetta (United Nations Institute of Training and Research), Traveler Hauptman (world leading robotics engineer) and H.E. Rob Zaagman (Dutch ambassador in New Zealand).
The Global Enterprise Experience is sponsored by the Victoria Business School, the University of Otago Business School, and Te Kaihau Ltd education consultancy.
Urban beehives proposal for homeless
Hives for Humanity, a proposed urban beekeeping scheme that integrates homeless back into the hive of society, has won the top award in a global business competition.
Kate Burn, a student from Victoria Business School, accepted the 2016 Global Enterprise Experience Victoria University of Wellington Champion Team Award at a function at Parliament on behalf of her eight team members from Indonesia, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda and the Netherlands.
Burn’s team was one of 111 teams competing in the contest. Participants came from 53 countries and were all led by New Zealand students, mainly from Victoria University. They had three weeks to communicate in cyberspace and develop a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service that fosters social cohesion.
“We chose Johannesburg for our project because rooftop beehives are legal, the city has over six million trees, a great climate for honey production, and a very high homeless rate. Most of the homeless are keen to work but unemployment levels are over 30% so they get stuck on the streets” says Burn.
“The idea of leading a random team of foreign individuals I have never met over the internet, seemed frankly bizarre. Yet by the end these “random individuals” had become anything but. For all the gulf in our societies, we became friends who could work together.”
In her speech at the award ceremony on parliament, Burns said, “We Kiwis had to stretch our patience, cross-cultural understanding and leadership skills, but after three frazzling weeks we had really grown - stepping up to become global leaders.”
Deb Gilbertson, the director of the programme, said that many of the students faced hardships in contributing to their global teams. “Pegah Bezrooli is banned from study in Iran because she is a Baha’i, so learnt her architecture in a Baha’i underground university, but runs the risk of lengthy imprisonment for studying and communicating with foreigners. Her global team drew on her skills to create low cost adobe housing for the Nepalis to rebuild following last year’s devastating earthquake.”
“Our Nepalis face 12 hour power cuts each day, Nigerians used cell phones rather than computers to write the reports, Rwandans struggled to access the internet during the weeklong commemorations of the 1994 genocide, and the Armenians were caught in the outbreak of a war.”
The judges were Dr Jian Yang (MP and Chair of the Committee for Science and Education), Dr Jo Cribb (CEO of Ministry for Women), Guy Ryan (Social Entrepreneur and Young New Zealander of the Yea), Alan Koziarski (NZ Trade and Enterprise Director) and Dame Susan Devoy (Race Relations Commissioner).
Nepalese quake inspires winners
The supreme award winner of Victoria University of Wellington’s Global Enterprise Experience announced at Parliament last night was inspired by one team member’s first-hand experience of the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year.
Asira Khanal lost five family members in the April quake and sheltered many nights under a tarpaulin. At the same time, she participated in Victoria Business School’s annual, three-week Global Enterprise Experience that challenged students from all over the world to devise a business solution for an issue affecting a vulnerable subsector of society.
Asira’s team, led by University of Otago student Hamish Anson, included students from the Netherlands and Finland. Her winning idea was to manufacture cheaply-made ceramic water filters for developing countries where safe drinking water is scarce.
Asira says most people in rural Nepal do not have access to safe drinking water, and water-borne diseases are largely responsible for the country’s high child mortality rate. “I received a call from one of my relatives in a village who had lost her home complaining about the lack of drinking water. So I started researching innovations in water purification systems that could be easily adopted in developing countries. [Ceramic filters] would be a great venture to pursue in Nepal because the Bhaktapur district has been famous for clay products for centuries,” she says.
This year’s competition involved 880 students from 179 universities across 53 developed and developing countries. Each team of eight was led by a New Zealand student from either Victoria or Otago universities.
Last night’s awards ceremony, co-hosted by Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce and MP Dr Jian Yang, recognised not only the students’ innovation and business skills, but also their ability to work in a global context across time zones, language barriers, limited internet accessibility, and social and political differences.
Seven categories of awards were presented on the night, with South African Kgotso Makwana winning the University of Otago Champion Journal Award for demonstrating exceptional individual skills.
Global Enterprise Experience founder and organiser Deb Gilbertson says one of the most inspiring awards is the Commitment Award that recognises a student who has overcome extreme difficulties to participate.
“This year, an Iranian student won the Commitment Award. She is of Baha’is faith, and so is prohibited from higher education. She belongs to an underground university and her very participation in the competition, plus the fact she is communicating with foreigners, could have led to imprisonment,” Deb says.
“There are some amazing stories of students who face extremely challenging circumstances to take part. It’s very humbling, but it’s also heartening to know this competition is helping them, and all participants, gain invaluable skills to become our next global leaders.”
Over 6000 students have taken part in the programme since it began 12 years ago.
Enterprising concept seeks to eradicate outlawed tradition
A business proposal to make low cost sanitary pads to eradicate the rural Nepal social practice of banishing menstruating women from family life has won the top award in a global business competition.
Adam Smith, a student from Victoria Business School, accepted the 2014 Global Enterprise Experience ANZ Champion Team Award at a function at Parliament last night on behalf of his seven team members from Argentina, Nepal, Malaysia and Australia.
Adam’s team was one of 114 teams competing in the contest. Participants came from 62 countries and were all led by New Zealand students, mainly from Victoria and Otago universities. They had three weeks to communicate in cyberspace and develop a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service that addresses the needs of youth and/or children.
“Chhaupadi is a social tradition, which is now illegal but prevalent in nearly all of rural Nepal, where women are prohibited from participating in normal family activities during menstruation and cast out of the house. Due to their low income, these women cannot afford expensive, but necessary, sanitary items, and use old rags, leaves and ash instead, leaving them embarrassed and susceptible to numerous health issues,” says Adam.
“My team proposed providing affordable sanitary pads to promote adaptation of healthy hygiene habits, which would hopefully reduce the stigma of menstruation and enable higher school attendance rates among girls.”
Adam says participating in the Global Enterprise Experience competition was a “revelatory journey”.
“Having the opportunity to talk frankly with others my age who face a very different reality was humbling and inspirational. I realised I took for granted many of the things in my life which others only dream of, such as education and even electricity.
“I learnt a lot, not only about managing people and the challenges involved, but also about myself and how lucky we are.”
The judges were His Excellency Dr the Right Honourable Sir Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Nigeria, Ghazali bin Dato' Mohamed Yusoff, Malaysian entrepreneur, philanthropist, business and social leader; Michael Wills, Relationship Manager at ANZ; and Berlinda Chin, Director, New Zealand Office of Ethnic Affairs.
Funding Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries a Winner
A Victoria University student has collected the top award in a global business competition for a scheme to support entrepreneurs in villages in developing countries.
Jake McInteer, a student from Victoria Business School, accepted the 2013 Global Enterprise Experience ANZ Champion Team Award at a function at Parliament on behalf of his international team. The seven members communicated across multiple time zones for three weeks to produce a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service that addresses a millennium goal of the United Nations Development Programme.
Mr McInteer’s team, which included members from Nepal, Scotland, Colombia, Bangladesh and Nigeria, came up with the idea of creating a Student-Entrepreneur Finance Network, a microfinance institution offering loans of $50 to $150 to entrepreneurs in villages in developing countries.
"Each loan would be directly funded by a student from a developed nation who would provide expertise and advice from their field of study, and receive a return on investment when the business began to turn a profit," says Mr McInteer.
One of Mr McInteer’s team mates, Sumit Agrawal from Nepal, noted in his reflective journal that he was going to try his best to implement the team’s idea in his country.
Mr McInteer says despite his team not meeting any of the deadlines they set and the difficulties of communicating from a distance, the end result was something they were all proud of.
"As team leader, the whole process has taught me about cultural understanding and intercultural communication and given me a glimpse of what it means to be a global leader, today and in the future.
"It also provided plenty of food for thought-it’s all very well to think of how governments and aid agencies could spend money to solve problems, but coming up with a profitable venture opened our eyes to all sorts of possibilities for business to create a better world."
Five UNESCO Commitment Awards were given to participants who went to extraordinary lengths to overcome hardship to contribute to their global team. One recipient was Victoria University student Brady Austen who was hospitalised and had surgery for a motocross accident during the contest, but used his cellphone to continue to contribute to the global team he was leading.
The Supreme Commitment Award went to Baha’i student Aziz'u'llah Samandari from Iran who has been arrested and imprisoned for communicating with foreigners and associating with the banned Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.
"The Global Enterprise Experience competition means a lot to students worldwide and for some participation can even be risky," says organiser Deb Gilbertson from Te Kaihau Education Trust.
"In Aziz'u'llah’s case he has been imprisoned for the very things that we are celebrating in this contest-getting an education and working in partnership across cultures."
Other awards included the University of Otago Champion Global Leader, won by Otago student Sophie Pinto-Raetz, and the Victoria University of Wellington Champion Journal Award which went to John Musantu from Zambia.
This year the competition brought together 764 students from 50 countries in 95 international teams.
The Global Enterprise Experience is supported by ANZ, Victoria University, UNESCO-NZ, University of Otago Business School, Sustainable Business Council of New Zealand, United Nations Development Programme and HostingNZ, and is organised by the Te Kaihau Education Trust through Victoria University
Healing arthritis with cats claw
Healing arthritis from an Amazonian herb in partnership with the Coruguaje indigenous tribe in Colombia was judged the winner at the 2012 Global Enterprise Experience ANZ Champion Team Awards.
The contest is run from Victoria University in New Zealand with the aim of creating future global leaders who can work in partnership across cultures, world views and levels of wealth and poverty.
This year it brought together students from 40 countries into 90 international teams. The teams had three weeks to meet online, choose a project, then research, design and write a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service to link developed and developing countries for mutual benefit.
The winning business concept—Claw for Coruguaje—proposed to work with the Coruguaje tribe to take indigenous intellectual property protection of the local cats claw plant that has strong health benefits to generate local jobs, income and education.
Members of the winning team were: Kate Stone (New Zealand), Alex Le Phuoc Thao Bui (Australia), Maria Luisa Panta Correa (Colombia), Wong Man Sam Samantha and Yuen Kiu Wong (Hong Kong), Koya Joshua (Nigeria) and Tuyishime Moise (Rwanda)
The contest was judged by David Clendon (MP and Greens spokesperson for tertiary education), Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand (former Governor General), Hon Winnie Laban (Assistant Vice Chancellor at Victoria University) and Jo Riley (ANZ Senior Manager). “The reports were extraordinary, having been produced in just three weeks. The winning report had everything – an awareness of sustainability, commitment to the indigenous people of Colombia, strong economics and good marketing. It demonstrated both the difficulties and the value of a collaborative approach to business.”
The Victoria University Global Leader Award winner, Helena Langer from University of Otago, described how this contest consumed her life as she built her global team. New Zealand’s time zone meant she was up in the early hours of the morning to link the team on line. “I realise that life in other parts of the world is not as easy as here in New Zealand.”.
The UNESCO Commitment Awards recognised five participants who went to extraordinary lengths to overcome hardship to contribute to their global team. Winners included an Iranian Baha’i who is banned from attending public Iranian universities solely because of her faith and risks imprisonment if found studying or communicating with foreigners. A Nigerian travelled 150km from his village to get to the internet, another did extensive field research into the team’s project. The Nepalis contended with an epileptic power supply that had power outages for 11 hours per day.
The University of Otago Champion Journal Award went to Sebastian Hofler, a German studying in Colombia, who worked with his global team on trading refuse in Nigeria.
As Melissa Pariss, a team leader from University of Otago said, “The progress and achievements that can be accomplished through working together and caring are infinite, which I think is a pretty awesome and precious insight to get from this experience.”
Making honey from mangroves
Making honey from mangroves for the Wayuu indigenous tribe in Colombia was judged the winner at the 2011 Global Enterprise Experience ANZ Champion Team Awards.
The contest is run from Victoria University in New Zealand with the aim of creating future global leaders who can work in partnership across cultures, world views and levels of wealth and poverty.
This year it brought together students from 39 countries into 64 international teams. The teams had three weeks to meet online, choose a project, then research, design and write a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service to foster indigenous development.
The winning business concept—Wayuu Mangrove Beekeeping—proposed to reforest the mangrove swamps, providing a habitat for bees and enhancing the natural environment. The proposal aimed to sell the honey in the European organic food market. Colombia has over 100 indigenous communities, many like the Wayuu being affected by diminishing access to land and resources in the area.
Members of the winning team were: Claudia Ducrot (New Zealand), Lee Chong De (Malaysia), Omisakin Yinka Waliyat (Nigeria), Zeeshan Arshad (Pakistan), and three Colombians—María Paulina López Morales, Rosario Tatis-Marin, and Maria Fernanda Gallego Maya.
The contest was judged by Dr Rajen Prasad (New Zealand Member of Parliament and Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson); Gavin Shing (ANZ Bank Senior Manager), Dr Andrew Matthews (New Zealand UNESCO Deputy Chair), Suzanne Hall (Managing Director of on-line self motivation company BE Intent and former New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year); and Prof Piri Sciascia (Pro Vice Chancellor Māori at Victoria University). The prize giving ceremony at New Zealand’s parliament was supported by Oracle New Zealand.
The BE Intent Global Leader Award winner, Jessica Ch’ng from New Zealand, described how this contest had inspired her to realise that “with creativity and practical steps, there are remedies for the injustices and issues facing indigenous people”.
The UNESCO Commitment Awards recognised eight participants who went to extraordinary lengths to overcome hardship to contribute to their global team.
Winners included an Iranian Baha’i who is banned from attending public Iranian universities solely because of his faith and risks imprisonment if found studying or communicating with foreigners. Nigerians faced curfews and assaults during their election week in their efforts to get to an internet café. One student was hospitalised with his injuries, another competed despite succumbing to typhoid. Nepalis contended with an epileptic power supply that had power outages for 14 hours per day. Lawer Akfoli from Ghana worked up a pole with his computer to get internet access.
The Victoria University Champion Journal Award went to Olaoye Oyinkansola Kofoworola from Nigeria who saw the potential to process plantain to reduce poverty of the Igun indigenous people of Nigeria.