FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and one of the world’s largest express transportation companies, together with Junior Achievement (JA) Asia Pacific, announced the top three winners of the 16th annual FedEx Express/JA International Trade Challenge (ITC) finals. Students from India, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines comprised the winning teams.
Over 4,800 participants representing 10 AMEA markets – Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam – competed for the top spots with 60 students making it to this year’s regional AMEA finals. The finalists presented their ideas to a panel of regional business leaders following three days of intense competition held virtually from August 9 to 11.
This year, the student teams were tasked with creating a market entry strategy for a physical product that places ‘sustainability’ at its core, and Germany was the target market. The challenge was particularly timely due to consumers’ increasing focus on the environmental impact of products and the escalating discussion on what role businesses should play to help tackle climate change.
The winning team J Cubed, comprised of Jakecob M. Jacob from the Philippines and Yau Li Ting Jamie from Singapore. Their idea was a sustainable beer called ‘Loaf’ brewed from surplus bread to address food waste and promote sustainability as well as German culture.
Sultans of Sales, comprised of Simar Singh from India and Tatsuru Taguchi from Japan were named first runners-up for their nutritious, eco-friendly range of drinks called ‘Das Bubble’ made from herbal tea, purified algae, and seaweed from the Baltic Sea.
Magna Victoriam, comprised of Supaseth Julerttrakul from Thailand and Ilangovan Harishiga from Singapore were named second runners-up. Their idea tackled the 200,000 tons of waste produced each year from conventional feminine hygiene products. They conceptualized ‘Cura’ as a compostable alternative to conventional sanitary napkins made from water hyacinth.
“We are overjoyed to be named the winners of the competition, especially to be chosen among a very talented peer group. Through this competition, we have worked together as a team, learning from the experience of our mentors and judges, which has been really inspiring and made us even more committed to begin our entrepreneur journey,” said J Cubed team members Jakecob M. Jacob from the Philippines and Yau Li Ting Jamie from Singapore.
“We chose to center this year’s theme on sustainability as it is such a prescient issue for FedEx, the business community, and everyone on our planet. The knowledge and ideas these young entrepreneurs demonstrated throughout the competition on these real-world challenges was truly inspiring,” said Salil Chari, senior vice president, Marketing and Customer Experience, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region, FedEx Express. “These young participants are our future leaders, creators, and innovators. We’re incredibly proud of our continuing collaboration with JA and look forward to helping fuel the pipeline of entrepreneurship in the years ahead.”
“Since its debut in 2007, the FedEx Express/JA Asia Pacific International Trade Challenge has been invaluable in transforming traditional classroom learning to real-life, hands-on experiences. At JA Asia Pacific, our belief in the youth of this region has never been stronger. I am so pleased to see a truly representative group of participants and a crucial and timely theme focused on sustainability, that supports JA’s global vision and demonstrates that young people truly have the skillset and mindset to build thriving communities,” said JA Asia Pacific President and CEO Maziar Sabet.
The FedEx Express / JA International Trade Challenge program is jointly organized by FedEx Express and JA Asia Pacific, a member of JA Worldwide. Over 36,500 students across AMEA, have benefitted from this program in the last 16 years. This year, 40 FedEx volunteers from 13 AMEA markets mentored the students. In addition to supporting young entrepreneurs through JA ITC, FedEx Express is an advocate for and supporter of small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs).
Judges of the competition were impressed by the organization of the virtual competition and the efforts made by the students.
“It’s very important to have a venue where the youth can meet and discuss the social and environmental problems of our time. I could feel the passion and hard work that they put into their presentations, and I was inspired by their creativity and perseverance as aspiring entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the finalists! I have such high hopes for all the participants here.”
Trish Lim, Founder and CEO Woven (Philippines)
“It was great to see these school students think this much about a sustainable future. The next generation is not taking the environment for granted. From the entrepreneurship perspective, I would advise only one thing to all of the students: “If one can solve just one problem in the industry, profits will automatically skyrocket. French Crown has solved “dead stock problem” in the clothing industry, and our profits are the highest in the industry. Reducing dead stock is helping the environment a lot. It’s win-win for both, the environment and the company.”
Ilesh Ghevariya, Founder and CEO, French Crown (India)
“I’m delighted to see how the students came up with such impressive ideas and put them into a structured presentation. I also see the enthusiasm and deep understanding of what it takes to make a business successful shown by the students. Congratulations to everyone.”
Jimmy Gani, CEO, Orbitin (Indonesia)
“Totally impressive to see how these potential young entrepreneurs put together holistic, purpose driven businesses that are sustainable for the planet, people, and ultimately profit. “
Johnwei Muljono, Founder and Managing Director, Moncrete International (Indonesia)
“I’m wonderfully surprised by the level of creativity and innovative solutions the teams presented today. The future holds a lot of excitement with these young leaders of tomorrow – they share a similar passion to solve real world issues, and they do it with great optimism and courage. Big congratulations to all their efforts!”
Lennise Ng, Co-founder Dropee (Malaysia)
“It’s very exciting to see a gathering of like-minded individuals at events such as these, both well-established and soon-to-be entrepreneurs from the Asia Pacific region. This is a great avenue where we can all come together to solve real problems and have some fun.”
Pamela Belen, founder Umpisa Inc. (Philippines)
“As the world gets more complicated there are more problems that need solving. We saw how entrepreneurship can be learned in conversations by these young students. Getting yourself in the right mindset and managing expectations may be the thing that saves the business. Understanding the concepts is only the start while putting it in an application is another thing. Today I saw the potential of a lot of ideas presented in this competition. Kudos and congratulations to this batch of young entrepreneurs.”
Marju P. Geslani, Group Head of Customer Marketing and E-Commerce, Nutriasia Inc.m (Philippines)
“I had a great experience in 2021 judging for Asia Pacific ITC by JA Asia and FedEx. So, when they asked if I could join again, I didn’t hesitate. Later I came to realize I would be traveling and had to ensure to be sharp at 4:30 AM my time zone. This was no issue at all. The students were brilliant again, and the ideas were fun and creative. The pitches were better than I have seen from a lot of experienced professionals. Only one can take first place, but they are all winners to me.”
Robin Teurlings, CEO The Startup Buddy & Managing Partner Zero Emissions Fund (Singapore)
“Very impressed with the ideas and innovation presented today. Inspired by their passion to pursue business sustainably and impact society positively. They went above and beyond. The finalists demonstrated core skills like problem-solving, creativity, and communication. Grateful to have been able to participate as a judge. Thank you.”
Omar Bawa, Co-founder, COO Goodwall (Switzerland)
“It’s my third year back as a judge and I’m continuously impressed by the level of business acumen these students are showing at such a young age!”
Net Supatravanij, Co-founder, Ila (Thailand)