Recognising that solid waste management poses a huge threat to Jamaica's natural environment, team Eco Structure presented a winning solution and emerged as champions of The Vincent HoSang University of the West Indies (UWI) Venture Competition.
In its 16th year, the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation-sponsored pitching competition was held last week at the UWI's Mona campus.
Though 29 start-ups had begun the journey to win the grand prize of $300,000 in grant funding in November last year, on Friday, only five qualified to present their ideas to a panel of judges comprising Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship CEO Lisandra Rickards; Anthony Lawrence, director, GraceKennedy; Vennecia Christian Barnes, managing director of Caribbean Money Lenders; and Douglas Halsall, chairman and CEO of Advanced Integrated Systems.
Among the start-ups was Eco Structure, represented by Shananlee Cawley and Kristoffer Henry, whose proposal hinged on creating a block-making company that incorporates shredded plastic bottles into concrete to manufacture a durable and cost-effective product.
After the presentations and much deliberation, Eco Structure emerged the winning team. The start-up also won prizes for Best Presenter (Cawley), Best Presented Financials, and the Joan Duncan Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.
“It's humbling because we are part of a larger group in terms of the people who've come together to put together [different] businesses,” Cawley shared with the Jamaica Observer about the win.
“We were quietly confident, as we always are. We had extensive training in making these presentations from our MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme, so we know once we were prepared, we always stand a good chance,” Henry, an engineer at the National Works Agency, added.