Another year, another competition. Not this year! It is the 15th anniversary of the Foster School’s premier global competition, the Global Business Case Competition (GBCC). Don’t allow it to slip past without recognition, instead stop for a minute and consider the impact of this competition over the course of 15 years. Over 100 business schools from over 50 countries have sent teams to compete in GBCC.
Each year, for one week, universities from around the globe bring some of their best and brightest to the University of Washington (UW) to share in the competition and cultural collaboration. Students who would otherwise never have met gather together as friends and friendly competitors to share their wealth of knowledge. For one week, business as usual becomes something much greater – a chance for the UW to change from a dot on a map to a learning mecca where connections are built and memories are made. For those who get involved, it is a week not soon forgotten.
After speaking with past competitors representing UW, Katie Emoto and Michelle Lefler, it is clear that GBCC is far more than the average case competition. The participants are more than competitors; as Katie puts it, “by the end [of the week], everyone was so close.” Michelle adds that her favorite part of the competition week was “hanging out with everyone outside of the competition. It made the actual competition seem unimportant.” While both Katie and Michelle rave about the skills they took away from GBCC and the competition’s status on their resumes (both students are set up for employment after graduation), the true power of GBCC is in the sharing of culture, both inside and outside of the business environment. For instance, Katie used the intricacy of the Portuguese team’s PowerPoint as inspiration for her future presentations, and Michelle learned about a new employment program that led her to her future internship. They have also maintained contact with their fellow competitors a year after the competition. To the students and community members involved, GBCC is more than simply another case competition put on by the Foster School of Business
The 2013 competition is coming up next week. For the 15th time, there will be a week of laughs, spreadsheets, and newfound friends. This time, take notice and take part. After all, it only comes around once a year.
If you are interested in getting involved with GBCC 2013, come to the Global Networking Night on April 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Anthony’s Forum (Dempsey Hall), where you can meet the international student competitors. Also, join us for the GBCC Final Round on April 13 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm in the Shansby Auditorium (Paccar Hall 192). You’ll learn a little bit more about business and a lot more about the rest of the world.
Personally, I believe in more inclusive, transparent and democratic leadership, even at Universities for God’s sake. However, when you witness what has been created in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there is something about tribal authoritative and authoritarian leadership that cannot be ignored. Such leadership builds cities very quickly, efficiently and majestically…well, depending on your taste in architecture. Indeed, the parallels in the world that I could think of where similar leadership has had such positive impact are in places like Singapore and Chicago under the leadership of the Mayor Daley’s. When there is chaos to be controlled and a myriad of interests to be aligned, sometimes authoritarian coupled with authoritative leadership—if they know what they are doing, can be very effective. Yet, to sustain this model of society and leadership is tough, in that it oftentimes in the case of a Dubai or Abu Dhabi depends on the choice of the ‘right son’ or the ‘right brother’ in the succession plan.
There are several things that one cannot ignore when traveling in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. First, in 42 years since the founding of the United Arab Emirates, these global citizens have built massive cities with the most impressive and innovative architecture on earth. Second, you cannot find a more controlled society on earth that doesn’t appear to have any interest in overthrowing the ruling families. Indeed, what one sees in this part of the world are sheer opulence everywhere, and a largely satisfied group of indigenous citizens. The reason being is that the rulers in this part of the world, rule with an iron fist, but they also rule with tremendous generosity and smarts towards citizens. If you are a so-called Emirate and not living well, call your ruler because you are clearly missing out on all of the bennies, e.g., subsidized housing, utilities, car payments, healthcare, schooling, higher educational scholarships, or a new iPad!
I, like the students from Foster’s TMMBA program and staff, have visited many parts of the world. However, none of the staff or students had been to the Middle East. Of course, when we say Middle East, it’s like saying North America, in that the Middle East is made up of many different types of people, regions, climates and of course cultures. My goal for this trip was to develop our respective global mindsets as a basis for being a global leader—our assumptions, framing, perceptions and knowledge about other cultures. During our time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we certainly triggered A LOT of challenges to our respective global mindsets. Indeed, during our first corporate visit at Thompson Reuters, one of the top managers hosting us said, “Next time you hear the words—The Gulf—on CNN or Fox or where ever, I hope you consider how vast and diverse an area that reporter is referencing.” Boy was that ever an insight to retain in our global mindsets!
Guest post by Tim Anderson, Foster School and Certificate of International Studies in Business alumnus
After graduating with degrees in business administration and Japanese linguistics as well as completing Certificate of International Studies in Business’s (CISB) Japan track program, I honestly didn’t think I’d end up living in Shanghai, China for the past nine years. However, ending my undergraduate studies on the eve of a burgeoning recession in the U.S., and a full-blown recession in Japan, it seemed like the path I’d set myself up for wasn’t so clear cut anymore.
At first, I was considerably lucky and managed get a nice job working in the marketing department at an international PR firm located downtown by the Pike Place Market. The experience was great and taught me a lot, but as good as it was, it still wasn’t what CISB and the Foster School of Business trained me to do: be a truly international entrepreneur.
About a year into that first real job, I was given an opportunity to help start up a language school in the city of Shanghai. Admittedly I was nervous about taking the offer because although I had spent time in Japan and a couple other parts around Asia as a student, I had no idea what to expect of China. In the end though, my love of Asia proved to be overwhelming so I packed my bags for a new life in a new place with a new language to learn.
The people I’ve met and business challenges I’ve overcome in the past nine years has made my decision to live here well worth it. Since moving here, I’ve found my place amongst the locals as well as the expat community, and have really been able to put my business studies to work. I’m currently managing the marketing operations for an international clothing brand that is trying to break into the China mainland market. The business environment in China is fast-paced and filled with unforeseeable challenges, yet extremely rewarding if know how to play your cards right.
I can’t thank CISB and the Foster School of Business enough for preparing me for the wild journey my life has taken this past decade. I hope many future graduates will be inspired to challenge their comfort zone and follow the path less traveled as I and other alumni have done. In the end, it’s especially gratifying to know I am part of a community of CISB and Foster graduates who are also experiencing what I am experiencing, connected by a common bond.
Guest post by Sam Mutty, Foster senior and Certificate of International Studies in Business student
Throughout my life I’ve been blessed with opportunities to travel the world, from the rural towns of Ecuador to the city of Novosibirsk, still recovering from the fall of the Soviet Union. With each trip abroad I’ve been given a new perspective on the world, how I relate to those around me and ultimately how I define myself. However, after all the experiences I’ve had around the globe, nothing has been comparable to the time I’ve spent and what I’ve learned in Granada. A picturesque city nestled in the rolling hills of Andalucía; the whitewashed houses of Albayzín stretch up toward the sky on one side and the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada on the other. There’s life everywhere in the city and a vibrant, optimistic attitude despite the current state of the Spanish economy. A quick stroll through the streets is like walking through an urban art gallery, from the ultra detailed murals of “el niño de las pinturas” to the political graffiti claiming that student scholarships are equivalent to the mythical unicorn. Yet, even though the city itself has so much charm about it, what I’ll take away most from my experience here can’t be captured in photographs.
I’ve gone through the typical ups and downs of traveling abroad, the initial excitement to the bout of homesickness and ultimately realizing just how blessed I am to have this opportunity. Overcoming the language and cultural barrier to really connect with people is by no means an easy task, but through it I’ve gained a new understanding of cultural differences and how they affect interactions between people. At first glance I don’t appear particularly different than any Spaniard, and have even been mistaken for one a few times, but there’s no doubt that differences—from the songs we learn as children to our native language—have left me feeling like an outsider on more than one occasion. However, rather than try to avoid these instances, I’ve learned to actively seek them out. I live in an apartment with three Spaniards, spend my siestas eating lunch and drinking coffee with Spaniards and go out with Spaniards. While I miss the occasional joke, and am often the brunt of them, I wouldn’t dream of trading my experience for a more Americanized one. Not only has my Spanish vastly improved but I’ve had a glimpse of the time and energy it takes to fully assimilate into a foreign culture.
The experience I’ve had in Granada has made me much more open to different cultures and viewpoints. I’ve learned that when communication and common ground can be hard to come by, sometimes a smile or quick joke is all it takes to make a connection. No matter where we come from or what experiences we’ve had, we all share a basic human nature and are social beings. Whether we’re in school, at work or walking down the street, the differences between us shouldn’t drive us apart, but be appreciated and celebrated. All it takes is one person taking the initiative. I encourage anyone interested in studying abroad or exploring other cultures to take that first step and see where it takes you. The old cliché, it’s not the destination but the journey, couldn’t apply more to this type of experience. Open your mind, put yourself out there and see what you can learn about the world and yourself.
Guest post by Kelly Nealson, junior and Certificate of International Studies in Business student
When the clock struck midnight on January 1, I found myself ringing in 2013 somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on a one way flight to Montpellier, France. Despite the fact that I had been planning to study abroad before I knew which university I was going to attend, I was nervous. Would six years of French, countless hours in the UW International Programs and Exchanges office, and months of mental preparation be enough to survive six months of living and learning in a foreign country? Would I ever be able to feel at home where I was headed? I can remember sitting on that plane, alone and a bundle of apprehension.
Now, over two months into my study abroad experience, I can say with confidence, while I doubt I could have ever been fully prepared for what awaited me, I could not be having a more incredible experience abroad. I can’t say it’s been easy to jump into taking five classes entirely in French or that navigating the French university and government administrations has been simple for me. I can say, however, that I have made so much progress with my French, made great friends, and most of all, made this city my home. Living in Montpellier has given me the chance to improve my language skills, expand my horizons, and ultimately have a much better perspective on what I want to do in the global business world.
Learning and living my day to day life in French has given me the opportunity to see and experience the world in a different way. The French way of life is slower and calmer than the American style I am used to. It is much more focused on taking time to enjoy the little things, like starting the day with petit dejeuner (breakfast) in a café or sitting in a park in the sun with friends in the afternoon. At this point in my experience, I am surprised now and then how everyday life in France has become so normal. The four of us UW students who are here for spring semester all live in the student dorms, cook our own meals and live and go to school like any other French student. Though dorm life is not exactly glamorous, living so independently in France has really helped me feel like I can more fully integrate into the culture. We have had the opportunity to travel around France during so many of our long weekends and, most recently, spent our break traveling around Spain.
I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am that I took advantage of the study abroad experiences UW provides. Being a part of the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program (CISB) gave me the opportunity to more easily build studying abroad into my academic plans and I am grateful for it. Spending the second half of my junior year abroad has turned out to be just what I needed to take a step back from the UW business environment and gain some perspective by spending some time in other cultures. It has shown me I ultimately want to steer my career path so I can work abroad someday. I’ve definitely come a long way since getting on the plane to come to France, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store.
Increasing protein-based food in Nigeria, promoting coffee in Rwanda, reducing indoor air pollution from cooking in Bangladesh, building a wheelchair out of bamboo—these are a few of the ideas presented in the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition, which was hosted by the Foster School’s Global Business Center, had 14 semi-finalist teams from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and the U.S.—including one UW team—competing in Seattle for over $30,000 in prizes. The winners were announced at a celebration dinner on February 28, 2013.
Grand Prize $12,500 = Jorsey Ashbel Farms
Jorsey Ashbel Farms turn mango seeds into livestock feed. This tackles the poverty issue of protein-energy malnutrition, which affects millions of disadvantaged people in Nigeria, particularly women and children. They have already generated $31,000 in revenue, proving their business model works. When Mauricio Vivero from the Seattle International Foundation announced the winning team he said, “The final judges noted that the winners proved the model worked, which was fundamental, and also that the business plan thoughtfully and fully addressed the social good.” Blessing Oritseweyinmi Mene from National Open University in Nigeria and Ashbel Ngalabak Ayuba from Ahmadu Bello University presented the idea at GSEC. The other team member is Godson Chizurum Ogumka from Abia State University. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle International Foundation and Microsoft.
Information & Communication Technology Prize $10,000 = Social Cops
Prukalpa Sankar and Varun Banka from Nanyang Technological University launched Social Cops so ordinary citizens could easily report civic issues such as uncollected trash, potholes, leaking water pipes, etc. to local government officials with their mobile phone in their home country India. The civic reporting platform will begin a pilot this summer in Delhi. This prize was sponsored by Microsoft.
Global Health Prize $10,000 = LifeChair
LifeChair produces a wheelchair made of bamboo and rickshaw wheels. It is significantly less expensive than the wheelchairs currently available in Bangladesh and is designed and built to be used in rural areas. Makame Mahmud and Naseef Us Sakib from University of Dhaka created this company to help handicapped Bangladeshis become active members of society. This prize was sponsored by the UW Department of Global Health.
Rotary Prize for Social Impact $1,500 = Coffee Promo Co.
Coffee Promo Co. was started by Jean-Christophe Rusatira and Candide Mujawayezu, two medical students from the National University of Rwanda. Their goal is to install washing stations right at the coffee farm so the farmers can sell their beans already sorted and processed and get a much higher price, as well as improve yields by providing more training to farmers and planting better coffee trees. Once the farmers and workers make more money from coffee bean production, they will have more money to spend on healthcare and education to improve their communities and living standards. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle Rotary.
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance E-Team Prize $5,000 and a Venture Lab Workshop = Disease Diagnostic Group
Disease Diagnostic Group uses the low-cost Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) device to provide a handheld diagnosis for malaria in one minute at very low cost. This team also won the Investor’s Choice Award at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition Trade Show.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spoke at the beginning of the celebration dinner. He said that while the people who proclaimed Seattle as a city of the future 50 years ago didn’t get everything right, they were right in a few areas. “They did get it right that it is appropriate, it is right to be innovative, creative, and idealistic. It is right to think about others and that’s how we’re going to keep working to build a city of the future.”
The keynote speaker at the award banquet was Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, owner and CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen, which produces products for prevention of infectious diseases such as malaria. The company’s LifeStraw® water filters were named one of the best inventions by Time and one of the best innovations by Esquire and also won the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas. Frandsen, however, said of accolades LifeStraw® has received, “None of this matters unless it’s in the hands of the people who need it most, and that’s where the real innovation is.” He covered three kinds of innovation required to solve global health issues: innovation around creativity of new tool development, innovation around the deployment of new tools, and innovation around financing.
GSEC 2013 welcomes 14 semi-finalist teams – representing 9 countries and 12 universities – to Seattle for this year’s high-powered GSEC from February 25 – March 1. Teams were selected from an applicant pool of 91 applicants from 67 Universities in 29 countries.
All 14 teams competed in semi-finals – congratulations to the six finalist teams: BreatheSuite, Coffee Promo Co., Eco-Chula, Jorsey Ashbel Farms, LifeChair and Social Cops. You can watch the video of six finalist teams’ presentations here and read more about the winners here.
AquaFiltro – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
AquaFiltro provides household drinking water treatment techniques in Ghana by developing two types of water treatment products, a basic model ceramic filter and a deluxe model ceramic filter. The filters consist of plastic containers and ceramic filter element. The deluxe model differentiates by user-friendliness, aesthetics, and durability. Both filters are effective at helping household water meet the drinking water standard.
BreatheSuite uses two different technologies, SpiroSmart and CoughSense, to measure lung function and cough frequency, respectively. The company will partner with a number of for-profit and non-profit organizations to magnify the technology’s impact and reach people in both developed and developing markets. View their final presentation. Coffee Promo Co. - National University of Rwanda, Rwanda
Our objectives are promoting sustainable coffee farming in rural areas, as well as making Rwanda coffee producers earn more and be less affected by price fluctuations. The idea of building a coffee washing station and training coffee growers aims to increase the added value on coffee for sale to the developed world. View their final presentation.
Disease Diagnostic Group uses the low-cost Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) device to provide a handheld diagnosis for malaria in one minute by taking a drop of blood from a fingertip. The RAM device has potential to become the universal method of malaria diagnosis and eventually lead the way to the eradication of the disease.
Indoor air pollution is the single largest environmental risk factor for female mortality in the developing world. Eco-Chula uses an integrated approach to combat this problem by providing an affordable, efficient cooking solution powered by compressed bio-gas. The venture raises awareness among people, trains them, creates job opportunities, and offers cash discounts and installment payment on product purchase. View their final presentation.
Eccolizer seeks to solve the food insecurity of 64 million extremely poor people residing in Bangladesh by augmenting agricultural yields and providing employment opportunity with the help of an economically cheap & ecologically friendly bio-fertilizer that can also be used as insecticide and pesticide.
FastTrack House is an initiative to bring innovation in the housing infrastructure sector through a low cost & fast track housing solution, thereby improving the lives of slum-dwellers & disaster-affected people. They have developed a technology for making aggregates out of demolition waste or debris to form interlocking concrete blocks to construct a low cost, quality, eco-friendly house in only 7 days.
FreedomLens - Florida International University, United States
FreedomLens is an innovative, affordable pair of eye glasses that allow people with severe vision impairment or blindness to hear the text in books, newspapers, menus, product packages and signs in a multitude of languages. Using proprietary and open source technology, FreedomLens, enables blind people to acquire knowledge, navigate directions and earn a living. FreedomLens will provide the blind with access to resources and opportunities, gain independence to ultimately improve their quality of life.
Jorsey Ashbel Farms (JAF) - National Open University of Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
Jorsey Ashbel Farm (JAF) tells of how an unconventional livestock farm is pioneering a ground-breaking approach to tackling the poverty problem of Protein-Energy Malnutrition affecting millions of disadvantaged children and women. JAF produces Nigeria’s Cheapest Livestock Products using a new, scientifically-proven low-cost livestock feeds production technique combined with an innovative deployment strategy.
LifeChair – University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
LifeChair offers a cheaper, bamboo based wheelchair with greater features than a traditional wheelchair to give medical mobility aid for physically disabled and financial challenged people residing in Bangladesh. LifeChair aims to increase affordability, accessibility, and awareness within the target population. View their final presentation.
Saral KONNECT is an impact leveraging unit that levers the efforts of social enterprises and other mission driven set ups to help them scale and sustain as they approach relatively ‘foreign’ rural landscape and to create measurable impact by offering them project sites, primary field research, HR and operational support.
Shwari Biofuel Solutions Limited shall endeavor to produce eco-friendly biofuel to home owners and institutions in rural areas and slums, by providing the best products and services and continuously improving on the technology, tools and techniques employed.
Social Cops – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Social Cops is an open web & mobile Platform where citizens, councils, NGOs & corporations come together to solve civic issues ranging from uncleared garbage, potholes on the road, leaking drainages & dangerous electric poles. SocialCops@Citizens allows citizens to easily report their civic issues via the Internet and Smart Phones. SocialCops@Councils is a customizable dashboard that allows the relevant administrative authorities to track and monitor complaints raised by citizens. View their final presentation.
Vendi is a social venture that aims to eliminate the intermediaries and sell vegetables at a reasonable price after procuring them directly from farmers. The organization addresses multiple social problems such as exploitation of vegetable farmers and consumers; deteriorating quality of vegetables through the addition of excessive pesticides, high wastage due to lack of proper care, and lack of access to high nutrition food for the urban people.
Watch the slideshow below for pictures from the event.
*This post has been updated with information regarding the winners and a photo slideshow*
Guest post by Jene Etheridge, Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) Ambassador, Foster undergrad and President of UW Social Entrepreneurship Club
Entrepreneurs, students, engineers, and investors filled Anthony’s Forum in Dempsey Hall on the UW Campus with excitement and curiosity as teams from all over the world prepared to present at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition’s Trade Show. The evening began with one-minute pitches from each team which highlighted their solutions and resulting benefits for social issues. The issues ranged from problems of respiratory disease and unclean water to accessible housing and resources.
Volunteer judges from the Seattle business, education and nonprofit community joined community members and host families—all of whom were given a hypothetical $1,000 to invest in the teams, culminating in an “Investor’s Choice” and “People’s Choice” Prize awarded at the end of the event. Judges included representatives from the Evans School of Public Affairs, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sophos Law Firm, Ness Consulting, and various UW departments.
When I talked to Brijesh Sharma, a first-time GSEC attendee and a Hubert Humphrey Fellow, he emphasized his intrigue in the range of ideas and innovative solutions. “The hardest part is choosing who to invest in,” he said, “but it’s an opportunity to test the teams’ ideas and helps build confidence for them.” An emphasis on high social impact instead of profit is something that an undergraduate business student isn’t used to hearing, but for this week the lens is re-focused through GSEC, which defines success by social impact.
I was curious as to how some of these companies even started, and was interested in Prukalpa Sankar’s story about where the idea came from for Social Cops, an open web and mobile platform where citizens, councils and corporations come together to solve civic problems. “We didn’t want to go corporate when we studied business.” She mentioned that they were inspired to start Social Cops because of the social movement, India Against Corruption. Not only are these social movements creating catalysts for change, but also urging members in their communities to mobilize and take action into their own hands.
Although some in attendance were major players in the business world, I realized they were there to find a cause they believed in that had the right people to carry out a solution with a positive social impact. I knew my fellow ambassadors would leave the trade show inspired to make change in our own communities. When I talked to Joyce Tang, a student ambassador for the livestock provider Jorsey Ashbel Farms, she emphasized even more student involvement for events like GSEC. “You meet the world here!” She told me as we watched the teams attentively answering questions from judges. “I think people forget that business can be used to benefit others too.” GSEC is somewhere to get inspired, because we see how social entrepreneurship is even more important to the founders of these companies. They’re passionate about these innovative solutions because they have grown up with these issues firsthand.
Troy Hudson, one of the participating investor judges, added a new perspective to the group as an immigrant from Guyana and Seattle business executive. “It’s important to use these business
skills to solve social problems and reinvest the profit back into a sustainable solution,” he said. The judges, along with fellow students and members of the Seattle community, offered a great opportunity for dynamic discussion on past projects and international travels, as well as innovative resources.
It seemed like the two hours had been only minutes when the announcements were made for the Investors’ and People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in GSEC history, each team received votes from the investor judges. The deliberation was so difficult the People’s Choice Award was presented to two teams: Eco-Chula from University of Dhaka in Bangladesh and Coffee Promo Co. from National University of Rwanda. The Investors’ Award was presented to one of the U.S. teams, Disease Diagnostic Group from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Congrats everyone!