Thai student teams land top awards in regional contest

business March 16, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Bagtastiq Student Co named JA Asia Pacific's 'Company of the Year', while KU Space takes FedEx honour

With their idea of making waterproof messenger bags from discarded banners, Bagtastiq Student Company – comprising teen entrepreneurs from Thailand – won the “JA Company of the Year” award, while the Kingdom’s KU Space Student Company landed the “FedEx Access Award” honour in the fourth annual regional competition run by JA Asia Pacific.
JA Asia Pacific, an operating region of JA Worldwide – one of the largest global organisations dedicated to empowering young people to own their economic success – organised the three-day competition in Singapore, where 15 student companies from nine Asia-Pacific markets participated in a trade fair and pitched their companies to a judging panel comprised of business leaders. 
Besides Thailand, there were student teams from China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
Bagtastiq Student Company from Harrow International School in Bangkok took first place in the “JA Company of the Year” competition with its environmentally friendly personalised waterproof messenger bags made from discarded banners.
Commenting on its success, Minrada Sukmanus from the Bagtastiq team said: “We are very, very proud of all of our team members, including those back in Thailand who could not be here tonight. Thank you to JA and FedEx and all the competitors.”
Second place went to Orabird Student Company from South Korea, which launched a mobile application on Google Play Store that provides a reservation service for people looking for services provided by small lifestyle, retail and food and beverage businesses.
Third-place honours went to Akram Student Company from Indonesia, which designed handmade educational toys and trinkets made from expired bread clay.
Skill, ingenuity and innovation
The Asia-Pacific regional competition is a contest of business skills, ingenuity and innovation. Under the mentorship of volunteers from their local business communities, participating students start and run their own businesses, developing and marketing a product or service to realise a profit for their shareholders. 
The final 15 teams were selected to represent their countries and showcase their business acumen before a panel of independent judges who evaluated each student company’s annual report, business presentation, trade-booth display and interview performance.
In addition to the Asia-Pacific “JA Company of the Year”, the event also named the winners of its signature award: the “FedEx Access Award”, sponsored by FedEx Express. 
KU Space Student Company from Thailand took home the award for presenting the best business plan with the most potential to create jobs, grow small business, expand global development and contribute to social needs of the local communities.
Asked what he and his colleagues had gained most from the competition, Manopat from the KU Space team said: “The most important thing we have learnt is that it is not about winning, but about gaining experience we would not have gained elsewhere. 
“The programme has helped us learn more about our own abilities and reach our potential. While business might seem like a boring subject, the reality is that running a business is fun and challenging.”
KU Space designs and sells personal, multi-functional lap-desks and hires local unemployed to assist in the assembly of its products.
“FedEx believes that global trade opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs and big business and we are heartened by the potential shown by the students in Asia-Pacific to leverage the power of access to expand and create jobs, which in turn drives economic development and improves quality of lives.
“This is why FedEx is proud to support Junior Achievement [JA] to educate youths in Asia-Pacific on the value of business and free enterprise,” said David L Cunningham, president of FedEx Express Asia Pacific.
“The 2014 Asia Pacific JA Company of the Year Competition provides a unique experience of entrepreneurship and global business to the youth of the region,” said Sean C Rush, president and CEO of JA Worldwide. 
“It offers them important opportunities to both learn and apply leadership skills, teamwork and innovation in their pursuit of business success,” he added.
JA Worldwide is one of the largest global NGOs dedicated to addressing fundamental social and economic challenges of young people by educating and empowering them to transform their future and own their economic success. 
Through the delivery of cutting-edge, experiential learning in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, JA Worldwide broadens the canvas of possibility for young people, and enriches their ability to both engage in the their own economic development as well as contribute to the strength of their families, communities and economies. 
The 121-country JA Worldwide network is powered by 400,000 volunteers and mentors from all sectors of society, reaching 10.2 million students around the world.
Asia-Pacific is an operating region of JA Worldwide serving over 800,000 young people in 20 countries and territories, with the support of more than 20,000 volunteers. 
US-based FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing delivery to more than 220 countries and territories.

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