Korean Government to Host Global Entrepreneurship Competition

Over 250 teenagers from 20 countries are traveling to Seoul, South Korea to compete in the 13th annual Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (“SAGE”) World Cup tournament on August 6-9. SAGE was founded in 2002 by business professor Curt DeBerg and six of his students. The Korean Trade and Investment Association (KOTRA), part of the Korean Ministry and Trade and Industry, will serve as the host.

There are two categories of competition. The first category is the Best Socially- Responsible Business and the second category is the Best Social Enterprise. The top three teams in each category win prize money, a trophy and bragging rights as the world’s best youth enterprise teams.

SAGE is modeled after interscholastic sporting events. “But instead of competing on speed, strength or endurance, we provide teens with a chance to compete based on the creativity and impact of their socially-responsible businesses,” said DeBerg, who is also SAGE’s executive director.

Seven current SAGE students, along with three alumni and retired communications professor, George Rogers, will depart on August 3. Rogers serves as SAGE’s videographer and senior statesman.

One of the students, Kristen Soldati, is a business major from Fairfield. “I traveled to Russia last summer, and witnessed first-hand the amazing business enterprises created by teens,” she said. “The team from China was called Powerstep. Their students made shoes that recharge batteries with every step.”

Soldati will take over as the new student leader of the SAGE program in 2015-2016. SAGE is part of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The SAGE team now consists of about 20 business students,” she said. “During the year, students serve as mentors and consultants for teens who start their own businesses.” Soldati added that the students who are most involved in SAGE are invited to the SAGE World Cup each year, where their roles change from mentors to project management planners and organizers.”

Most of the travel funding for the students who travel abroad comes from the Instructionally-Related Activity (IRA) fund. Rogers, who retired from 2003, recently turned 80. “SAGE has transformed my world perspective. It’s hard to imagine how much of an impact it’s making on teens,” he said.

He also traveled to Russia last summer. “The team I remember most is from Ireland. Their company was called Greener Globe. They invented a color-coded, timed showerhead that dramatically reduces water household consumption.”

According to DeBerg, the program is growing. Last year, 16 countries vied for top honors in Moscow. He is especially excited about SAGE’s growth in 2015, where he expects 20 countries to vie for top honors.

New countries in Korea are Japan, India, Kenya, and Iran. “Iran is our second Islamic country, after Pakistan. Teen innovation through entrepreneurship is one solution to reducing global conflict. We are breaking down religious, education and political boundaries,” DeBerg said.

DeBerg said that this program offers business leaders and university mentors with a direct way to connect with teenage youth.

At the competition, each team is given 30 minutes to explain details of their entrepreneurial venture to a panel of community leaders. After reading the annual report in the first 10 minutes, the team makes a 13-minute oral presentation, followed by 7 minutes which are set aside for judges to ask questions of the presenters.

The SAGE team representing the USA in the Best Social Enterprise category is from. Their business, Purses for Primates, recycles gently-used purses to draw awareness to extinction of orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. The founder and CEO of the company, Allison Boyer, will be a senior at Pleasant Valley High School. Her colleagues, Natalie Katsakis, will also be a senior at Pleasant Valley, and Jake Pawek will be a senior at Gridley High.

“Orangutans are becoming extinct due to mass destruction of their natural habitat by companies that produce palm oil,” Boyer said. “We want to draw worldwide attention to this matter, and SAGE gives us a unique platform to do this.”

The keynote speaker in Korea is Ndaba Mandela, the second oldest grandson of the late Nelson Mandela. Mandela is Africa’s SAGE ambassador. “I’m thrilled to be part of this world-changing organization,” he said.

For more send an email to cdeberg@sageglobal.org. Additional information about SAGE can be found at http://www.sageglobal.org.