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Malaysian teens get on the world stage at the APAC FedEx Express/JA International Trade Challenge Finals

Posted on 2021-08-24 00:55:00

A showcase of their innovative minds where they competed against teams from across the world.

Despite the Olympics being wrapped up earlier this month, Malaysians will be proud to know that the Jalur Gemilang has still been flying high in the eyes of the world as six Malaysian teens across two schools in the Klang Valley were given the chance to represent Malaysia at the recent APAC FedEx Express/JA International Trade Challenge (ITC) Finals held on August 9-11.

Alyssa Goh and Jayden Leong from SMK Seafield formed the first of three Malaysian teams under the name Team Venerable while SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 3 was represented by Team Shamsi Co comprising of Sree Sanjana Manoj and Krithika, and Lavanya Indran and Leanne Cheong of Team Pyara were the final Malaysian representatives heading into the finals

Each year, more than 2,700 aspiring young entrepreneurs participate in local ITC workshops across 10 markets over a period of eight months to create market entry strategies for a variety of products and services for their respective ITC local challenges. The three teams competed against over 500 students in the Malaysian ITC workshop earlier in the year with only 15 teams making it to the finals where their assignment was to create a market entry plan for a fashion product targeted at the Pakistan consumer market.

SC Chong, Managing Director of Operations at FedEx Express Malaysia, believed that these teams “demonstrated thorough market research, creativity and smart pricing strategies, high-quality financial analysis, and practical supply chain design”.

Below is a breakdown of each team’s innovative ideas that warranted a place in the ITC Finals.

  • Team Venerable created a handbag called RRAW (Reducing and Repurposing Agricultural Waste). The front and back panels of RRAW are made up of leather from natural fibres and the sides are made of hand-woven wheat straws. The pattern of this bag was inspired by combining Pakistani rugs as well as the Malaysian “anyaman” style. This product is targeted for women aged 15 to 54 years old, as they make up 54% of Pakistan’s population.

  • Team Shamsi Co. developed the Solar Shield, a sun protective clothing made for women to protect them from the hazards of UV rays as 67% of the Pakistan’s population are exposed to extreme heat conditions. The Solar Shield is made from a range of Sun Protective Fabric which typically has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30. Hence, only 1 out of 30 units of UV rays will pass through the fabric.

  • Team Pyara’s invention was the AaRAM Boots, a high-quality footwear designed for labourers, working-class women, and young adults. It is made of plastic-free, natural fibres for the soles and tear-resistant shoelaces out of synthetic wool from recycled plastic bottles. This footwear caters to various foot types, from low to high arches. There were three objectives behind their design – meant for those unable to afford high quality footwear, a footwear option that can withstand Pakistan’s weather conditions, and to provide a product that is Halal-certified.

#teamGRADUAN was given the chance to speak to our young innovators to find out what makes them tick!

Talk us through the ideation process behind your innovations and what went into creating them?

  • Team Venerable: First and foremost, our team aimed to create a beneficial fashion product for the people of Pakistan. Of course, we made sure our product was environmentally friendly. Thus, we came up with the idea of making a tote bag using recyclable materials. From there, the ideas simply blossomed naturally.

  • Team Shamsi.Co: We started off by researching the main issues of the country. Then, we continued by delving into issues related to fashion in Pakistan. We finalised our main problem statement to be the increase in cases of sunburn due to the climate of the country. We wanted to implement the development of science and technology into our product. Hence, we decided on using a material for our clothing range which was specially made just for the UV ray protection.

As for our product packaging, we went for eco-friendly packaging to complement the plastic bag ban in Pakistan as of 2019 and the overuse of non-decomposable materials of packaging from industries in Pakistan.

  • Team Pyara: We thought of many things, but we wanted to choose something that was going to help our audience. We wanted to go for something that would be a necessity and not just an impulse buy. Something that would really ease the difficult lives of Pakistanis. We believe that coming up with a sustainable product would be most feasible. We also wanted to stand out from the crowd, which influenced us to make boots instead of the obvious answer, which is clothes.

Where do you get the inspiration for your ideas?

  • Team Venerable: Sten Gustaf Thulin inspired my partner and I to come up with a tote bag. Sten was a Swedish engineer who invented the modern-day plastic bag in 1965. His primary goal was to be able to save trees as there were tons being chopped down at that time. Thus, we decided to further improve what he has worked for.

  • Team Shamsi.Co: The ideas that we generate are usually based on how science and technology can help mankind with the issue we delve into. With the constant innovation in the science and technology field, we believe that there is a solution to every issue mankind faces these days.

  • Team Pyara: Each other! Every discussion we have is always a great investment of time and we always feel that after every conversation, we learned something new. We took inspiration in each other and bounced off each other’s creative energy. What were you most looking forward to at the challenge?

  • Team Venerable: We were looking forward to the challenge of working together with new partners from other countries. It would be a great opportunity to have different ideas and inputs as it will also test our ability to work together through online communication platforms. It certainly would be an eye-opening and invaluable experience for us!

What were you most looking forward to at the challenge?

  • Team Venerable: We were looking forward to the challenge of working together with new partners from other countries. It would be a great opportunity to have different ideas and inputs as it will also test our ability to work together through online communication platforms. It certainly would be an eye-opening and invaluable experience for us!

  • Team Shamsi.Co: We were most looking forward to working with an assigned partner from another country with a different mindset, thought process and ideas. I would love to work dynamically with a new person whom I’ve only known for a few days, having to merge our perspective of things for a topic challenge within a short period of time and producing the best results together. Complementing my weaknesses and strengths to my partner’s and most importantly, not only giving my own opinions but also giving importance to their thoughts and opinions.

  • Team Pyara: To meet different people with different ideas. Cross-border collaboration has always been an interesting topic for us and we knew that this opportunity would be the best chance to actively listen to what others have to say. Hearing people from different locations explain about their opinions is truly fascinating and it isn’t something you hear all the time.

The most obvious step after the challenge would be to further your studies. Which field of study are you looking to pursue and why?

  • Team Venerable: We hope to be able to pursue studies in the field of science. One of the reasons is because humanity’s advancement throughout history has largely rested on advances in science. From our knowledge of gravity to cutting-edge medicine, students of science have shaped our modern world.

  • Team Shamsi.Co: I am looking to pursue my studies in the field of science and technology. I would like to provide futuristic ideas and solutions with the development of science and technology that can benefit mankind while giving importance to the conservation of our Mother Earth.

  • Team Pyara: We would love to pursue the study of business but more specifically, social entrepreneurship and of course, international trade. This entire journey dealing with the study of business has not only taught us such valuable lessons but it has heavily impacted our personal growth as well. There you have it! The future looks beyond promising for the six Malaysians that have come this far to test their intellect, problem-solving skills and innovative mindset.

No matter the result of the final challenge, Malaysia will be proud to know that the future of the nation looks to be in good hands!

By Ahmed Wafi

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