Students from Northern Caribbean University are internationally recognized for creation of a natural mosquito repellant
The entrepreneurs from Jamaica placed sixth in the annual International Business Model Competition.
Inspired by the need to have individuals protected after the 2014 outbreak of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus (Chik-V) in Jamaica that claimed scores of lives both locally and regionally, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) students Princess Shakes and Natoy Allen, created an organic repellant, Guardana, which placed sixth in the annual International Business Model Competition (IBMC).
The final programs of the competition took place April 29-30, 2016, and were held on the campus of Microsoft Ventures in Washington, D.C., where business teams from several universities and business schools across the world competed for the grand prize of $30,000 (USD) and the prestigious IBMC trophy.
The IBMC is the first and largest lean student startup competition in the world, which focuses on the inputs of the entrepreneurial process. The competition’s primary aim is to educate and inspire smarter entrepreneurs who in turn launch more successful ventures.
According to Princess Shakes, CEO of Guardana, the competition required going outside of the classroom, finding ways to address a specific problem and creating a solution. In this case, Shakes and Allen, who formed the company Guardana Incorporation, found a reliable solution to combat the spread of mosquito-borne diseases was not available, although it is estimated 86 percent of Jamaicans are affected by Chik-V.
Guardana is a 100 percent natural lotion repellent that is effective and long lasting. It is made with a combination of plants and essential oils such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint and coconut.
Currently, the relevance and need of products such as Guardana has drastically increased due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, which is known to cause a birth defect called microcephaly that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads, and other serious brain abnormalities.
“People are getting more health conscious due to the Zika Virus epidemic and so this product will be further developed, expanded and distributed internationally, especially to countries like Brazil where it is more widespread,” said Shakes. “We will also be developing other products that will serve as a natural guard, which in turn will improve the health of individuals, increase and maintain productivity and aid in economic growth through job creation.”
Before making it to the finals Shakes and Allen won the National Business Model Competition (NBMC) finals April 1, ahead of 12 other teams from four universities. They secured a cash prize of $2 million Jamaican Dollars ($16,000 USD), the NBMC trophy and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. to represent Jamaica and their university at the IBMC.
“Reaching the international leg of the competition was a great achievement because we were not only representing NCU, but Jamaica,” said Shakes. “Also, to be placed sixth from an initial group of 5,113 teams (42 of which made it to the finals in Washington, DC) from 186 Universities from approximately 46 counties was indeed a great accomplishment.”
NCU’s entrepreneur program has yielded good fruit as this is the third consecutive year NCU has won NBMC. Students from the program go on to do well on the international level of the competition and become successful entrepreneurs.
“I am very proud of the achievements of team Guardana,” said Trevor Gardner, president of NCU. “The university will continue to support youth entrepreneurship through our entrepreneurship [program,] which started three years ago. This was definitely a move in the right direction and it will continue to be a part of our curriculum.”
IMAGE: NCU’s Guardana L-R – Princess Allen, CEO Founder of Team Guardana, Coach and Advisor, Hazel O’Connor, Director of the Morris Entrepreneurship Centre and Natoy Allen, Research and Marketing Director [Photo courtesy of Northern Caribbean University]