MPC’s Upcycl Wins National Youth Pitch Competition

November 21, 2022 6:26 pm

~ The National Youth Pitch Competition was a huge success. St. Dominic wins Crowd Favorite. ~

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten The finals of the first-ever National Youth Pith Competition was held on November 20, 2022, with seven (7) teams representing 70% of the secondary schools pitched in front of five (5) judges vying to win ANG 10 000. The National Youth Pitch Competition was designed to develop financial literacy, hone entrepreneurial skills and foster an innovative culture among the youth. These finals were held at the Government Administration Building with more than 100 persons in the audience.  The finals were also streamed live to the Facebook Pages of Global Entrepreneurship Week Sint Maarten, Islandpreneur, TelEm, and the Government of Sint Maarten. It was also streamed live on Youtube and TV15. It is estimated that more than 2000 viewed the finals.

The host for the evening was King Vers, an artist, brand ambassador and motivational speaker. The finals opened with the St. Maarten song on live steel pan and was immediately followed with prayer and declarations from faith-based leader and IEP Peace Ambassador, Dr. Alicia Liverpool. 

First to welcome the audience was Dr. Ife Badejo, the project manager of the National Youth Pitch Competition and Executive Producer of Islandpreneur. Dr. Badejo expressed in her opening address that entrepreneurship is not about “making money but making a difference” and sees this project as a real catalyst to further develop the nation. The Minister of Finance, a collaborative partner in the pitch competition, Hon. Ardwell Irion then shared why the Ministry not only supported the project but he became a collaborating partner. Minister Irion saw a gap from his experience with the Enterprise Support Project and recognized that training needed to be done at a younger age for businesses and these programs to be successful.

The Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Hon. Silveria Jacobs gave her address and identified the importance of Government to facilitate opportunities to grow. Prime Minister Jacobs stated that the young people of St. Maarten are natural entrepreneurs and recognized how fitting that the finals were held on the International Day of the Child with the motto, “No Child Left Behind”. The keynote speaker for the evening was Giomarra Olivaccee (14), CEO of Bolder Baking and Winner of the International Youth Exchange Program 2021.

Some of the island’s leaders and entrepreneurs were in attendance in support of the young entrepreneurs. These were: the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency Ajamu Baly and his Aide-de-Camp, Captain F. Hartgers; Member of Parliament, Ludmila de Weever, Secretary General of Parliament, Mr. Garrick Richardson; Melanie Choisy of St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and Be the Change Foundation; Julisa Frans, board member of CFT, Edsel Gumbs, Qredits, and Catalina Ahlip of Fit foods to name a few.

The judges for the evening were: Alain Roper, Co-Managing Director of CompuTech, Glen Carty, Director of SZV Social & Health Insurances and entrepreneur, Tiana Songha, Entrepreneur and former CFO of Four Seasons Anguilla, Jessica Rogers, an entrepreneur and now Policy Advisor within the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications, and the Head Judge was Minister of Finance, Hon. Ardwell Irion.

All seven teams had two minutes to pitch which was followed by questions by the judges, much like the famous show, “Shark Tank”. Each team brought a sample of the product or a demo of their site or their app. Additional prizes became available from the island’s business community. Computech has pledged a surface pro for a student and committed to contributing to the trip of the winning team. Fit Foods will open its doors to the two food entrepreneurs of the National Youth Pitch Competition, so they can learn from the CEO/ Founder, herself, on how to further develop their products.

Youth Pitch Competition SXM - St. Maarten 2022

After tallying up the points, Upcycl from Milton Peters College rose as the grand prize winner of the National Youth Pitch Competition, with 275.5 points total. As the Grand Prize winner, Upcycl won ANG 10,000 and a trip abroad in 2023. Also, the public had an opportunity to vote for their favorite team or pitch and results were shown live. Smart Hax was the Crowd’s Favorite and so won ANG 2500.

The organizers would like to congratulate Isaiah Peterson, Rani Plattel, Kymora Reed, Jael Jong-A-Lock Ms. Fleming, their teacher, their extended team members and Milton Peters College for being the first Grand Prize Winners of the National Youth Pitch Competition. Similarly, the organizers want to also congratulate Saheli Kirpalani, Disha Daryani, Ivan Wu, and Siddharth Shroff of Smart Hax from St. Dominic High for being the Crowd Favorite.

The organizers would like to thank the community of St. Maarten and all who contributed to this event being a success. This includes, but is not limited to, the  Ministry of Finance, TelEm Group, TV 15, all the coaches, all the speakers for the evening, the jury, the business community for the additional prizes, the team, parents, teachers, and most importantly the students.

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