CSU, Chico News

Nigerian School Repeats as Global Entrepreneurship Champion; Santa Monica High Wins Third Place in Competition

Date: 08-20-2008

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

Student national champion teams from 13 high schools representing nine countries competed in the sixth annual Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) World Cup tournament in Abuja, Nigeria, at the end of July.

Founded by California State University, Chico business professor Curt DeBerg, SAGE is an international network that links secondary school student organizations to mentors from local universities and businesses. Its purpose is to create a global community of teenage entrepreneurs to make the world a better place. Under the direction of university student mentors, high school SAGE teams create ethical and socially responsible commercial and social ventures.

The SAGE team from Jikwoyi Junior Secondary School, located in Abuja, Nigeria, came in first after the week-long competition that concluded on July 28. The team also won at the 2007 championship in Odessa, Ukraine. A South Korean school placed second, Santa Monica High School from the United States placed third, and a Singapore school placed fourth in the 2008 competition.

The Santa Monica team earned the right to represent the United States by winning a national tournament in Cincinnati in May.

High school teams were judged on commercial entrepreneurship, social enterprise, civic engagement, environmental responsibility and global outreach. Following a 15-minute presentation, five minutes were set aside for judges to ask questions of the presenters.

DeBerg said examples of SAGE’s projects included providing clean drinking water in developing countries, planting trees in Nigeria, fighting the spread of malaria in West Africa, eliminating plastic bags in Santa Monica, and bringing new networking technology to South Korea.

DeBerg said SAGE effectively links businesses with youth through entrepreneurship and social enterprise. “Through SAGE, businesses can leverage their human capital by becoming involved with high school students, whose actions are literally making the world a better place,” he said.

Accompanying DeBerg on the trip to Nigeria were three CSU, Chico business students: David Wurlitzer, Gennifer Rose and Liz Wendorf. Wurlitzer, a senior accounting major from Healdsburg, said that his experience in Nigeria was life-changing and inspiring. “When one sees what these youngsters have accomplished, you cannot help but come away with optimism for our future,” he said.

SAGE California’s main sponsors this year were The Allstate Foundation, Bank of the West, GotVMail and the Elks National Foundation. Shelly Taliani, senior product consultant in the Product Management Department for Allstate, was one of the judges at the California regional tournament in April. She said she was fascinated that high school students could complete such creative projects under the guidance of role models from the University.

“This program is consistent with one of Allstate’s main goals in the community—to inspire young people to view entrepreneurship as an option for success,” said Taliani. “This program teaches the skills required to become successful business owners. With their college coaches supporting them, the teams are judged according to who had the most innovative business and community outreach projects.”

The Allstate Foundation provided a $15,000 grant to CSU, Chico to conduct the 2008 SAGE California competition. “This is a great social investment for us,” Taliani said. “SAGE brings high school students together with the university and business community to help them understand the importance of economic empowerment. I look forward to judging again.”

DeBerg’s goal next year is to expand SAGE to 10 U.S. states and 20 countries. “With continued support from socially-responsible companies like The Allstate Foundation, the sky is the limit for SAGE,” he said. “I dream that the SAGE World Cup will someday become the creativity and sustainability Olympics for youth.”

Additional information about SAGE can be found http://sageglobal.org and http://sageworldcup2008.org, or by sending an e-mail to cdeberg@csuchico.edu or phoning 530-520-7370.