CSU, Chico News

Nigeria Wins SAGE Global Entrepreneurship Competition in Brazil

Date: 08-20-2009

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

For the third straight year, a Nigerian school team has won the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) World Cup tournament, held Aug. 9–2 in Brasilia, Brazil.

SAGE was founded by California State University, Chico business professor Curt DeBerg in 2006. He and seven College of Business students organized this year’s tournament, which included student national champion teams from 14 high schools representing 10 countries.

The two U.S. teams, from Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo, N.Y., and Benicia High School from Benicia, earned the right to represent the United States by placing first and second, respectively, at the SAGE USA national tournament in San Francisco in May. In the World Cup tournament, the Holy Angels Academy team finished third behind the first- and second-place teams, both from Nigeria.

Other countries represented at the world event included South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, China, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines and Ukraine. Delegations from Ghana, Russia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were unable to attend because of security concerns or financial matters.

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 sharing a common purpose: to make the world a better place. Under the direction of university student mentors, high school SAGE teams create commercial and social ventures in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

Examples of SAGE’s global impact include projects ranging from providing clean drinking water to developing countries, conservation of magnolia trees in China and the introduction of new construction materials made from palm fronds in the Philippines. “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,” said DeBerg.

During the competition, the 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. Said DeBerg, “Just like when high school teams compete inter-scholastically on the sporting fields, the SAGE structure allows high school teams to compete with other schools based on the creativity of their socially responsible businesses.”

Accompanying DeBerg on the trip to Nigeria were CSU, Chico business students Liz Wendorf, Veronica Lansdon, Vanessa Nelson, Kristi Nakasako, Kyle Gyurina, Rob Martinez and Darren Hiehle. Wendorf, a senior management major from Marysville and the incoming CEO of the SAGE program in California, said her experience in Brazil was life changing and inspiring. “When one sees what these youngsters have accomplished, you cannot help but come away with optimism for our future,” she said.

SAGE California’s main sponsors this year were the Sierra Health Foundation, Umpqua Bank, Bank of the West, the Joseph Pedott Perpetual Trust, Ray Morgan Company and Subway.

Diane Littlefield, a senior program director at the Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento, was one of the judges at California regional tournaments. She was fascinated that high school students could complete such creative projects. “We really like that SAGE focuses on how young people can contribute their skills and talents to improve their communities while learning and applying business skills at the same time,” said Littlefield. “SAGE is clearly a program at the cutting edge of incorporating real-world experience into the highschool experience.” The Sierra Health Foundation provided a $27,000 grant to CSU, Chico to start the SAGE program in six Sacramento Capital Region high schools and to help conduct the 2008 SAGE California competition.

DeBerg’s goal is to expand SAGE California to 30 to 40 high schools in California and to double the number of participating countries from 10 to 20. “With continued support from socially responsible individuals, foundations and private sector companies, 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.”