This week, a team of St. John’s students is participating in the ICSB Academy Pitch Competition in Taiwan. As they compete and learn, we reflect back on how last year’s competition in Argentina affected students’ who went on this special trip. Helene Diyabanza Peterson, who recently graduated from the College of Professional Studies, as Master of Science in International Communication, looks back at her experience in Buenos Aires:
Argentina, empanadas, Messi’s wedding taking over a whole TV channel, steak, new buildings, old buildings, street fairs, tango and ICSB 2017! What an amazing week! Going as a Swedish International Graduate Student from St. John’s College of Professional Studies in Queens, from New York City to the World Conference, the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) in Buenos Aires was a far more interesting and learning experience than I had expected.
We learned how to do a Business Model Canvas, Elevator Pitching, gained insight into Start-ups, Social Entrepreneurship, Humane Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Pivoting and much more. I also take with me a much deeper understanding for the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and a sincere interest in being part of that agenda. Another significant activity at the conference was networking, and one of the biggest remainders of the whole trip was to meet students and professors, administrators and government officials from Argentina and around the world. Another impression that will stay in my mind were the tango performances, both the stunning professional entertainment dancers in the prestigious restaurants in the evenings and the enthusiastic dancers on the streets and local restaurants.
The ICSB Academy, which served as an introduction to the conference, had invited one hundred students from countries around the world, active entrepreneurs who shared their successes and stories about failures, and renowned researchers and lecturers teaching strategy and techniques of entrepreneurship. There were also activities that allowed us to practice what we had learned, and the small business competition ran like a red thread through the whole Academy and conference. Prior to travelling to Argentina, all students had joined a team with a business idea related to any of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It could be either an already existing business ran by a student or a hypothetical business only invented for this occasion.
Thanks to Dr. Basilio Monteiro and Assistant Dean Kevin James, we arrived well prepared for the ICSB Academy competition with two teams; one based on Leah’s business in Idaho, Empowered Solar, and the other based on Lorena’s business/project on rural sustainability in Cuba. After all, both of our teams made it to the finals.
The ones responsible for the Academy, Dr. Cesar Bandera, Project Manager for ICSB Academy 2017, and Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, Dean of ICSB Academy, made us realize that anyone can be an entrepreneur; anyone can succeed if you follow the ground rules.
So, what has stayed with me from the 3rd Academy and the 62nd World Conference of the International Council for Small Business 2017?
- Global environmental thinking, a strong feeling of determination to participate in reaching the sustainable development goals #SDGs by 2030, starting with myself and the people around me by incorporating the sustainable development goals into our daily lives; using less hot water, switching from electricity to solar panels, recycling, encouraging socially conscious companies, supporting the UN and other organizations which are going in the direction of the SDG 2030 etc. so that twelve years from now, we may be able to breathe a fresher air and proudly raise our children and grandchildren in a better, fairer, and cleaner world. Therefore, I want to challenge everyone who is reading this blog to immediately join the movement of SDG 2030. We will get there, and conferences like ICSB are doing a fantastic job connecting small and medium sized businesses with the SDG Agenda 2030.
- Elevator pitching in 60 seconds; Problem, Solution and Addressable market!
- We should not forget to take care of ourselves, as building a business can easily take over your life; one of the faculty members Dr. Charles H. Matthews, Founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Education and Research at University of Cincinnati, told his story and made a point about the importance of not forgetting to take care of your body and soul and the consequences that can occur if you don’t.
- Importance of networking, the elevator pitch night was educating as well as challenging, but also rewarding in terms of expanding our network with successful entrepreneurs and academic representatives. Also, broadening our network with all the students and lecturers, professors, entrepreneurs from around the world that we got the opportunity to meet during the whole week was very valuable.
- I will remember the Argentinians who dance tango everywhere, on the street, outside of restaurants, inside of restaurants, in the big performance arenas, and who – with their bodies and impressive dance moves – express all their feelings and history and daily life struggling with love, hate, jealousy, failures and victory. Experiencing this was truly amazing!
- And of course, our Dean Katia Passerini, who made this whole trip possible for the students of St. John’s.
- My amazing team members Leah Victorino, Kiah Iashley, Alana Broomfield from SJU, and William Zhou from China who added so much value to the group dynamic and the other SJU team Lorena Brothers, Alexis Dursunyan, Alexa Shuck, Lauren Euell and Tiffany Eason.
Going on a trip abroad with St. John’s Univeristy’s College of Professional Studies gives you not only a lot of new knowledge but also memories and friends for life.