Passionate and creative students from Ecuador win coveted FedEx Access Award in Bogota, Colombia
After creating companies from the ground up, electing officers, thinking up and producing new products or services, creating sales and marketing plans, selling stock, selling products and services, and liquidating their enterprises, students from across Latin America and the Caribbean came together in Bogota November 30 – December 2 to compete for the Junior Achievement Americas Company of the Year award and for the FedEx Access award.
A few years ago, after seeing the phenomenal JA European Company of the Year competition, FedEx collaborated with JA to launch a global competition. Building on the tremendous success of the European competition, over the past few years, FedEx has provided funding and volunteer support to recreate the European competition in North America (Canada and the U.S.), Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
At this year’s Americas competition (Latin America and the Caribbean) student teams competed as judges considered their business plans, presentations, trade fair booths, products and services, teamwork, presentations and other criteria. For the FedEx Access award, we considered their success in creating jobs, driving global commerce, improving the environment, and growing small business.
This year’s winner of the FedEx Access award was a team from Ecuador. They named their company Uywa (pronounced “Oo-ee-wah”) a word taken from the Quechua (Ecuadorian Indian) language that means “animal.” Their product was an amazing collection of stuffed animals representing endangered animals in Ecuador.
You will see examples of their products in the photo associated with this post. In the back row of the photo, behind the students, are the FedEx judges from Memphis, Sao Paulo and Miami.
Uywa’s primary goal was to raise awareness of the endangered status of animals including the spectacled bear, dart frog, giant Galapagos tortoise, brown woolly Monkey and the Gentoo Penguin. So, they created wonderful stuffed animals representing each of these. Each animal has a “pocket” designed to hold pajamas. The purpose is to enable customers to place their children’s pajamas inside the pocket of the stuffed animal and in the process raise awareness of the plight of these animals as endangered species. The stuffed animal is placed on the child’s bed to facilitate ready access to the PJs at bedtime.
Their thinking was drenched through and through with thoughts of social responsibility. Not only was their product designed to bring awareness to efforts to protect endangered species, they also used recycled materials, and hired women in prison to assemble the animals in order to provide a source of income for them!
With their goal of raising awareness about endangered animals, in just two months, these students built their company, created and produced their product, and generated sales revenues of $11,345. Their net profit after taxes and expenses – including donations to a local orphanage and an animal shelter – was $3,004.64! Their profitability per share sold was 600%.
I count it a great privilege to have served as a judge for the FedEx Access award. All of us were inspired by the passion, creativity and drive of the students. We look forward to seeing the competition grow around the world as we help students learn about the power of Access.