Last year, the GSEA experienced record-setting global participation, which culminated with 42 students representing 37 countries at the 2015 GSEA Finals in Washington, DC. On the final day of that event, our beloved Chairman-Elect (at the time) Gilberto Crombe delivered a speech during the event’s final award gala that would set the precedent for the next year, promising “…in 2016 EO GSEA will have 50 students representing 50 countries at GSEA Finals in Bangkok at GLC.” What ensued were the makings of another milestone year for EO GSEA Finals.
For 11 months (May 2015 – April 2016) a hyper-focused global effort to both increase chapter participation in GSEA AND bring GSEA to new geographies around the world commenced. The effort resulted in 82 competitions across nine regions, which included local, national and virtual events, organized by both chapters and external partners. By mid-April 2016, GSEA announced the official 2016 GSEA Finals Class.
Fifty-one student entrepreneurs, each representing their respective country arrived in Bangkok to compete for the GSEA crown and most importantly — to digest 2.5 days of curated learning sessions, mentorship, connections and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But only one could be EO GSEA Entrepreneur of the Year.
- Winner: Gladys Martinez, Founder of Vaiza (El Salvador).
- 1st Runner Up: Peeyush Shrivastava, Founder of Genetesis (USA)
- 2nd Runner Up: Daniel Dubois, Founder of Share Shed (Canada)
- Top 5 Finalist: Ruben Miessen, Founder of Remedia BVBA (Belgium)
- Top 5 Finalist: Buddhika Jayawardhana, Founder of Siplo (Sri Lanka)
The EO GSEA Chairman’s Award Recipients:
- Social Impact Award: Fernanda Sottil, Founder of Emma (Mexico)
- Innovation Award: Gino Tubaro, Founder of Atomic Lab (Argentina)
- Lessons From The Edge Award: Alice Igiraneza, Founder of Life-Changing, ltd.
Countries represented at 2016 GSEA Finals:
Australia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Vietnam, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia , Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA, Rwanda, Zambia
About the winner
The winner, Gladys Martinez is the founder of Vaiza and student expected to graduate from Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado in 2017. VAIZA is an accessory brand that works with artisans who have the same passion, discipline and compromise for work to give its consumers a bit of their cultural heritage through products that become art pieces, creating opportunities that become jobs for people with unique abilities to treat leather and textile design.
Gladys speaks on the growth of her business:
“I started to make my own handbags in 2014 because I won a national design competition in El Salvador, and the award was the opportunity to travel to NY to exhibit my designs, at that time I didn’t have the resources to start my own business. But then I traveled to NY to a design exhibition and I sold 4 leather handbags that I made as samples and with that money I started my own line of handbags in my country. I started to post all the designs on Instagram and Facebook and after 2 months I was contacted by a store located in BVI, they told me they were interested in selling my designs and if I was able to export them. I didn’t know anything about exportation, but I told them that I knew how to do it, and I did it! My first exportation, and after that my brand started to grow locally and internationally.”
“Now in 2016, I’m about to open my own store in El Salvador, I have a contract with the BVI store in which I am going to supply them with all my designs, and I will participate in international fairs that will give me the opportunity to meet new international stores that will sell my product. My goal is to be a global brand. Three years from now, I will be exporting my designs to the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Europe. The company will have its own machines that will let it grow in productivity I am looking forward to hiring a social media specialist and a small team of designers in my country, so we can have amazing and fresh product ideas to present to our clients. We will be looking forward to becoming a global brand of artistic and fun accessories.”
Connect with GSEA on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Use hashtags #Studentpreneur and #GSEAcompetition. Official event photos and videos will be published soon. Be sure to follow GSEA online for content updates and news. For more info, don’t hesitate to contact the GSEA Team at GSEA@eonetwork.org.