Student entrepreneurs from Beijing City International School (BCIS) and the International School of Tianjin walked away with the top prizes in the third annual Avenir Business Competition held at BCIS over the weekend.
Ten high school teams and six middle school teams from schools across Beijing and Tianjin competed for cash prizes and stipends for overseas travel in the contest organized by BCIS students and faculty and sponsored by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The two-day competition saw student teams hone their business plans in sessions with Beijing-based business mentors and pitch in front of a panel of three seasoned professionals who rated them on their plans.
The senior high division was won by BCIS students who developed a plan for an internet-enabled pillbox designed to help senior citizens remember to take medicine on time.
Second place in the high school division was awarded to a team from Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), with their pitch for an online platform that matched digital artists with buyers.
A team from BCIS placed third with their company that designs logos, posters, and graphics for students and commercial businesses.
In the Junior division, the top prize was awarded to students from the International School of Tianjin, for their plan, the “Multibag”, a customized set of bags for grocery shopping aimed at reducing the use of disposable plastic bags.
Two teams from Beijing Huijia Private School bagged the second and third prizes, with their pitches on a radiation protection product and a plan for an online learning platform for students at international schools.
Between adding finishing touches to their plans, the students heard keynote speeches on social responsibility and sustainability from three well-known Beijing-based social entrepreneurs.
“The organization was great,” said keynote speaker Aaron Moniz from Inspire Citizens, a teacher-created collective provides that customized project-based learning towards a more sustainable future.
“The fact that there was a student leadership team was powerful, the choice of keynote speakers and diverse backgrounds of the mentors was a very positive way to show students that business is important — but being innovative, ethical, and sustainable is even more important.”
Also addressing the students were Sam Waldo, co-founder and CEO of Mantra, an eyewear brand that provides vision care for under-resourced rural Chinese students; and Joseph Harvey, co-founder of The Bulk House, which encourages people to understand their waste and then reduce it.
“Entrepreneurship competitions like Avenir generate a lot of student engagement,” said George Carlo Lomboy, the head of the Business Management department at Huijia. “They allow students to see for themselves if they have properly framed a problem or a pain point, and if they have covered all their bases on the functional areas of business, through the perspectives of real-life entrepreneurs, seasoned venture capitalists, and academics.”
Lomboy also praised this year’s focus on sustainability and social responsibility. “It makes students aware that in business, money is not everything.”
Photos: Courtesy of Avenir