Four Year-13 students of Freyberg High School in Palmerston North are on a mission to make their social-commercial enterprise a mega success in New Zealand. The group named ‘INCUT’ is participating in the ongoing ‘Young Enterprises Scheme’ (YES) by The Lion Foundation, a national championship competition for student entrepreneurs, the finale of which will be held in December.
INCUT is lead by Kiwi-Indian student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri as the CEO, Cam Bailey as the CFO, Ivan Cheung from Hong Kong as Communications Director and Trizia Castillo from the Philippines as the Marketing Manager of the group.
INCUT’s business idea is to source products made out of plastic waste such as chocolate wrappers, gift wrappers, food packaging and so on which are collected, cleaned, cut into strips with just a pair of scissors and then handwoven into fabric product.
The venture that although appearing to be a commercial enterprise does have a substantial social angle attached to it that makes the group’s venture quite unique. These products are sourced from rural places handmade by people from underprivileged communities. Thus, giving the manufacturers a source of income, a job and support for themselves and their families.
“We are primarily an international platform sharing their story and buying the bags off them which helps them support their families and community,” the spokesperson from the INCUT team told The Indian Weekender.
YES - The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme is an experiential programme where students set up and run real businesses. This is a national competition where businesses have to complete different allocated tasks which earn them points. The businesses also have regional pitches where they pitch their business to CEOs and various other business people called 'The Dragon's Den'.
The groups have to submit an annual report about the business, and the top five teams will be chosen to share their journey so far and go into the national level. The groups can also apply for excellence awards in different categories, winners of which will be declared on the finals in Wellington in December.
“We chose this project as we wanted our business to be meaningful. We don't just want to sell a product but rather create a connection that will link different communities around the world together. Our world is going through so many environmental problems, and it's up to us to save our planet and make a difference,” the team says on choosing this particular business idea.
The team is importing the bags from a supplier in India, who is also a family friend helping the group make the connection from the manufacturers. The team is marketing the product through social media, word of mouth and connections in Manuwatu.
“Various pages such as sustainable Manawatu have shared our posts on Facebook that has boosted our product knowledge in the extended community,” the spokesperson said.
The immediate goal of the team is to pitch the business to get into the top five teams and prepare for the final round.
“Going forward, we all [the four team members] will be moving to different cities following our higher studies and will operate and expand the market there. We want to make the business 100% sustainable by working with different organisations across the country promoting the idea of this innovation that can save our planet,” Ms Gaythri told The Indian Weekender.
The team is mentored by their school teachers and supported by CEOs of several organisations and local businesses in the Manawatu region.