College Park, Md. – April 27, 2010 – The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have named the winners of the first Global Challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition that challenged teams of MBA and other graduate students to develop a public-private venture to support development and the tourism industry in Asia. Placing first and receiving the grand prize of $5,000 was a Smith School team with a pitch for sustainable micro-tourism home stay program in Thailand.
The teams pitched their business solutions at USAID’s headquarters in the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on April 23, where they were judged by representatives from USAID, industry-leading private sector companies, and NGOs. A joint team from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business received second place and $2,500 with a pitch for a Cambodian wildlife sanctuary and ecolodge. Third place and $1,000 went to a Smith School team who pitched public-private partnership for medical tourism in Vietnam.
Eight finalist teams were selected from 65 registered teams across 32 universities. Finalists had 15 minutes to present their proposed public-private alliances before an audience and a distinguished panel of judges: Roger Conrad, acting regional director and CEO of the Inter-America and Pacific region of the Peace Corps; Roberta Hilbruner, chair of the USAID Sustainable Tourism Working Group and manager of the Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance; Kenneth A. Lanza, senior director of management for USAID’s CEO; and Luis Oganes, managing director and head of Latin America Research at the Emerging Markets Research Group of J.P. Morgan in New York. Alonzo L. Fulgham, chief operating officer of USAID, served as the keynote speaker for the event.
“At the Smith School, we measure true success not only by profit-making, but also in fostering the creation of social values and taking all stakeholders into consideration,” said G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. “This competition challenged MBA and graduate students from across the country to create business plans that struck a balance between these values, harnessing their business acumen and passion to create solutions that would help businesses while simultaneously reducing poverty.”
The concepts addressed in the Global Challenge are a top priority for USAID and are closely related to Global Engagement, one of the key themes of President Obama’s foreign policy, which seeks to address development challenges by engaging and empowering local stakeholders.
Aside from cash prizes, the competition also offered students the opportunity to connect with leading experts in the international development and business communities, receive guidance and build invaluable relationships with other students. In addition, the winning teams will have their work published and distributed to international development professionals around the world.
The Global Challenge was sponsored by USAID’s Business Growth Initiative and the Smith School’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and Center for Social Value Creation. The Center for Social Value Creation launched in September 2009 with a mission to engage students in courses and experiential learning programs to enable them to become global leaders who understand how to use business as a vehicle for both economic prosperity and transformative social change, and to support faculty research in related areas.
For more information, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/globalchallenge.