Countdown for Pacific Challenge ends Wednesday (V3-S2-16)

There’s just one day left to go before the end of the 21 Day Pacific Challenge and the heat is on!

One of the teams at a strategy meeting at the Pacific Chellenge at the University of Canterbury.
One of the teams (Team Four) at a strategy meeting at the Pacific Chellenge at the University of Canterbury.

Five groups of students have all been fine tuning their business proposals before they are due in on Wednesday, May 25.

Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) NZ is the Auckland co-sponsor of the 21 Day Pacific Challenge and is keen to see what the different submissions will be.

This is the second year that the University of Canterbury has run the Challenge. Five groups of five full-time third-year students are competing to solve an issue in an international community in 21 days. They must research an issue, develop a business plan and hand in the completed plan for judging by a panel. Along the way however, they must collaborate within a group of students they may have just met, from diverse degree, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Added with the pressure of managing the other areas of study and the challenge mimics the demands of a real business environment.

At stake for the winners is an all-expenses paid trip to Niue Island to implement the project. So the competition, though friendly, is focused.  Reading the students’ blog posts from their 21 Day Pacific Challenge page, they all seem positive on their progress and confident they have the best solution.

The blog post of Ashni Kumar of Team One said they were all getting to know one another better and their ideas were falling into place.  “…we are starting to see a clear picture of how our project will function and support the Niuean community and their food produce.”

Team Two have skyped the local community and although felt they had an early challenge in the week and had a design change, they too were in the final stages of writing up their plan for presentation to the judges.

Team Three’s Emily Peach reports, “it’s been a whirlwind week, sometimes with more questions than answers” but they’re looking forward to writing up their full business plan. “We’re excited for our idea, how we can make a positive difference, and can’t wait to show this to the judges.”

Meanwhile, down at Team Four, which calls itself the Pacific Pink Panthers Headquarters, following some reported late nights and bad jokes down at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, they “have made numerous breakthroughs into the Niuean culture…” not to mention solutions for other world problems.

Team Two discussing plans.
Team Two discussing plans.

Team Five was confident although it was down on numbers earlier (down to four team members from five) is now back to full strength, again and is armed with packs of taro rations in preparation for some all-nighters this week.

Pacific Periscope contacted University of Canterbury Professor Sussie Morrish for comment before final submissions are due.

“It is now Day 20 and as the 21 Day Pacific Challenge draws to a close, I cannot help but feel proud of our UC students. The past 19 days have been a real challenge and huge learning curve for them. They have bonded together and while there was a lot of hard work, they have enjoyed working as a team.  We are all excited to see what their solutions are!” Professor Morrish said.

The teams have all had access to some 18 high-powered mentors from various private sector organisations along with six cultural advisors from the community.

The preliminary judging takes place on May 27, where the top three entries will be selected. The final judging will take place on May 30 and the winning team will be announced at a special event later the same day. The winning team will then go up to Niue on June 29.

With Niue’s population at just about 1500 people, governed by democratically elected members of Parliament and headed by a Premier, Niue is in free association with New Zealand. However, the small nation is faced with numerous problems similar to most Pacific Islands in terms of food security and climate change.

The University of Canterbury successfully launched the programme in 2015. The ‘Bee Team’ was the winner with team members visiting Barangay Tarong in the Philippines to establish a beekeeping cooperative for honey and bee products.

For more information please contact Ellie Ikinofo at eleanor.i@pacificislandstradeinvest.co.nz

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