CSU, Chico News

SAGE Hosts Young Entrepreneurs Competing for National Title

Date: 05-16-2016

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Curt DeBerg
College of Business

More than 100 middle and high school students from five states will converge in Sacramento to compete in the 14th annual Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) SAGE USA tournament on May 27-29. SAGE is part of California State University, Chico’s Center for Entrepreneurship, housed in the College of Business. CSU, Chico business professor Curt DeBerg is SAGE’s founder and executive director.

SAGE involves two categories of competition: Best Socially Responsible Business and Best Social Enterprise. The top teams in each category win prize money, a trophy and a chance to compete in the SAGE World Cup competition in Manilla, Philippines, this August.

SAGE is modeled after interscholastic sporting events. “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,” DeBerg said.

The competition will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton at 2001 Point West Way in Sacramento.

During 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 seven minutes that are set aside for judges to ask questions of the presenters.

The five states represented are Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and California, which has teams coming from Chico, Elk Grove, Fremont, Palo Alto, Paradise and Stockton as well as Sacramento teams. Eighteen teams will compete overall.

CSU, Chico students serve as consultants and mentors for the SAGE students. “I traveled to Russia two summers ago, and last summer I went to South Korea and witnessed first-hand the amazing business enterprises created by SAGE teens,” said CSU, Chico student Kristen Soldati, a graduating senior from Fairfield. “One team from China was called Powerstep. Their business made shoes that recharge batteries with every footstep.”

College of Business Dean Judy Hennessey sees the SAGE program as an ideal way to recruit top high school students to the University. “SAGE is one of those rare opportunities outside of sports for continuity in matching high school student interests, passion and energy to both college programs and college extra-curricular activities,” she said. “Students will succeed in college because they will belong and fit-in immediately, while their energy and passion continues to be nurtured to sustain their success in college and in the career path they choose.”

Looking ahead to the world competition, DeBerg said SAGE is growing internationally. Last year, 16 countries vied for top honors in South Korea. This year, he expects 20 countries to compete for top honors in Manila.

DeBerg said new countries this year include Chile, Poland, Cameroon, Tanzania and Israel. “Already, Iran and Pakistan are part of the SAGE network,” he said. “We are proud to add Israel to our network. We firmly believe that teen innovation through entrepreneurship is one solution to reducing global conflict. We are breaking down religious, education and political boundaries.”

DeBerg said the keynote speaker at the SAGE World Cup in Manila in August will be Ndaba Mandela, the second oldest grandson of the late Nelson Mandela and Africa’s SAGE ambassador.

For more information about SAGE, call 530-520-7370 or visit theSAGE website.