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Philanthropist encourages future entrepreneurs


Philanthropist and entrepreneur Tony Falkenstein believes in the power of business to positively impact on people’s lives. So much so, he is donating $600,000 to the University of Auckland Business School to fund up to 14 top students to travel to Silicon Valley. While there, they will visit contemporary business hubs in order to observe and hone the skills required for entrepreneurial success.

The gift, through the University’s Campaign For All Our Futures, consists of $120,000 a year for five years. It will fund an overseas experience named Vanguard – which aptly means a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas – and promote a learning model

Falkenstein has successfully tested before. In 2003, the Head of Just Life Group established a business school at his old college, Onehunga High in Auckland. As part of the ongoing curriculum, the top students there got the opportunity to travel overseas and experience global business first hand.

Falkenstein is determined to give tertiary students the same advantages. Starting in 2020 Business School students at the University of Auckland can apply for a place on the Vanguard Programme.

The Onehunga-raised chief executive of Just Water believes passionately in business education. “I would love to see a day where every university student would spend a semester overseas, whether it be experiencing another university, working in a large company or start-up, or seeing the collaboration of ideas in Silicon Valley. The Vanguard Programme gives that privilege to a few, and hopefully the start of a programme for many,” says Falkenstein.

Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland, Wendy Kerr agrees. “This programme enables our students to gain a rich understanding about entrepreneurship ecosystems and fast-moving businesses that operate at a global scale. We know that when students return from such a trip, their minds have been significantly expanded which assists them to take the next step in starting successful sustainable businesses,” she says.

Professor Jayne Godfrey, Dean of the Business School, applauds the gift saying “We are thrilled that Tony has contributed in such a tangible way to shaping the futures of our graduates and to shaping the future of New Zealand enterprise. This is an extraordinary commitment from an extraordinary man.”

The Auckland-based businessman was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2008, made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2010, and selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Auckland in 2011.

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