Students Impressive at Entrepreneurship and Innovation Expo Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00

Hundreds of Belizeans visited the Princess Hotel on Thursday, November 21st, to view the creative displays of students from the University of Belize and high schools from across the country at the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Expo. The expo is now an annual event made possible due to a partnership between the Ministry of Education, Belize Youth Business Trust, the University of Belize and the United States Embassy.

This year there were thirty booths and along with the Marketing class of the University of Belize there were fifteen high schools representing all six districts. Sylvia Cattouse is the Special Assistant for Community Initiative out of the President of UB’s Office. She says the expo is important because “there is a critical need to develop young entrepreneurs.” Her message to the student population is “You are not just to look for a job or go to school to be hired by someone but if you are passionate enough about something then you can create your own opportunities.” Cattouse says, “In any developed country it is the entrepreneurs that are the drivers of the economy.”

The college students participating in the expo were all from the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences. They were challenged to introduce a product or service to the community. That challenge led to the introduction of jungle adventure theme park, vinegar product line, cupcake factory, baby shower planning agency, therapeutic massage shop, jewelry and accessories designers and much more. The projects were completed for a grade; however, many of the students expressed plans to eventually introduce their business ideas to the wider community.     

The secondary school students participated in the creativity and innovation competition. They were all given a few pieces of primary equipment such as steel and cloth. Over the past three months there have been competitions amongst schools in every district for the right to be the district representative at the national expo. Products on display included designer shoes, multipurpose hand bags, plants for office desks or hotel rooms, cultural dolls, clothing line and much more. After the judges viewed the presentations, the finalists were from Edward P. Yorke of the Belize District, Delille Academy of the Stann Creek District, Sacred Heart College of the Cayo District and Toledo Community College of the Toledo District.

Before the winners of the competitions were announced, Susan Whipple, Guest of the United States Embassy, addressed the students in attendance. Whipple is the Assistant Director in the Office of International Education at Marquette University. She presented on opportunities available for furthering education in the United States. She spoke about requirements needed for studying in the US, applying for a student visa, selecting the right college and financial assistance available. Students listened attentively to Whipple’s presentation and many visited the Embassy’s information booth to learn more.

After representatives from the University of Belize and the Youth Business Trust tallied the scores from judges, a team from Sacred Heart College was announced as the winner of the Creativity and Innovation Competition. That team created a fashionably dressed Garinagu cultural doll. It was accompanied by a video of the students presenting the doll to tourists visiting the Cayo District and many expressed interest in purchasing it. The team says they are targeting tourists and Belizeans living abroad as potential clients.
For the University of Belize, Jungle Adventures was selected as the Most Attractive Booth. Fantasy Cupcakes finished second in that category, while Memorable Baby Charms finished third. Memorable Baby Charms was crowned as the Most Creative Service.