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Enterprising concept seeks to eradicate outlawed tradition

Enterprising concept seeks to eradicate outlawed tradition

A business proposal to make low cost sanitary pads to eradicate the rural Nepal social practice of banishing menstruating women from family life has won the top award in a global business competition.

Adam Smith, a student from Victoria Business School, accepted the 2014 Global Enterprise Experience ANZ Champion Team Award at a function at Parliament on Tuesday night on behalf of his seven team members from Argentina, Nepal, Malaysia and Australia.

Adam’s team was one of 114 teams competing in the contest. Participants came from 62 countries and were all led by New Zealand students, mainly from Victoria and Otago universities. They had three weeks to communicate in cyberspace and develop a business concept proposal on a profitable product or service that addresses the needs of youth and/or children.

“Chhaupadi is a social tradition, which is now illegal but prevalent in nearly all of rural Nepal, where women are prohibited from participating in normal family activities during menstruation and cast out of the house. Due to their low income, these women cannot afford expensive, but necessary, sanitary items, and use old rags, leaves and ash instead, leaving them embarrassed and susceptible to numerous health issues,” says Adam.

“My team proposed providing affordable sanitary pads to promote adaptation of healthy hygiene habits, which would hopefully reduce the stigma of menstruation and enable higher school attendance rates among girls.”

Adam says participating in the Global Enterprise Experience competition was a “revelatory journey”.

“Having the opportunity to talk frankly with others my age who face a very different reality was humbling and inspirational. I realised I took for granted many of the things in my life which others only dream of, such as education and even electricity.

“I learnt a lot, not only about managing people and the challenges involved, but also about myself and how lucky we are.”

Deb Gilbertson, the director of the programme from Te Kaihau Ltd, said that many of the students faced hardships in contributing to their global teams. “The Baha’is in Iran are banned from study and communicating with foreigners, but still contributed fully to their team. Nepalis faced 12 hour power cuts each day, Nigerians used cell phones rather than computers to write the reports, and Rwandans begged security guards to open the university computer rooms that were closed for a week during commemorations of the 1994 genocide.”

The judges were His Excellency Dr the Right Honourable Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Nigeria, Ghazali bin Dato' Mohamed Yusoff, Malaysian entrepreneur, philanthropist, business and social leader; Michael Wills, Relationship Manager at ANZ; and Berlinda Chin, Director, New Zealand Office of Ethnic Affairs.

The Global Enterprise Experience is sponsored by ANZ, Victoria University, University of Otago Business School, Dynamix Teamwear, and Te Kaihau education consultancy.


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