Friday, 27 November 2015

Business is Awesome

All smiles from the winning team at the 2015 Business is Awesome seminar

The Rotary Club of Remuera, NZ held another successful Business is Awesome one-day seminar for high performing Auckland secondary school students in Rotary District 9920 who are considering business careers. 109 students from 13 schools from central, south, and east Auckland attended the event on May 14, 2015 at Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Mt Wellington in Auckland.

The Business is Awesome program was started by the Rotary Club of Remuera many years ago, and it is organised by its Vocational Committee. The seminar is a mix of keynote speeches by prominent and successful business leaders with group exercises and business puzzles simulating challenges and realities of real business life.  It has evolved over the years and now takes the form of a Dragons’ Den. The day began with presentations by two non-Rotarian entrepreneurs, Mooks from steel fabrication and rigging business MP Rigging, and Megan Sargent of Abes Bagels, who spoke about the businesses they had started.

The students then worked in teams to develop a business idea of their own, before pitching their ideas in a market place to a group of visiting business owners, specialising in marketing, finance, and management, who selected the winning team. The judges were Chun Chung of Bakers Delight bakery chain; Josh Wong of IT management company TwoPointZero; Norm Johnston of Leonard Knight Chartered accountants and member of the Rotary Club of Remuera; plus three teachers from the attending schools.

The business ideas that were proposed by students attending the seminar ranged from a mobile phone battery charger powered by the motion of walking, to a food bus based on a double-decker bus with the food prepared upstairs and sold downstairs.

The teachers commented that the presentation was of a high standard, and some valuable ideas were generated in a very interactive atmosphere, to the obvious benefit of their students, who enjoyed working with students from other schools. Plans are in place to repeat the Business is Awesome seminar in 2016.

Words and photos: Leigh Marshall, Rotary Club of Remuera, NZ

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Plenty of pain, with lots to gain

Richard Thorpe and Maureen Reihana at the RPM cycling class #6 on Thursday, November 19 with great support from the other participants in the class

A charity ride with a difference

Rotarian Richard Thorpe, who is President Elect of the Rotary Club Botany East Tamaki in Auckland, NZ, has been combining his passion for cycling with an annual activity to raise awareness and funds to support his charity of choice. The fight to eradicate the world of the deadly Polio virus.

Richard, a passionate cyclist whose view of the perfect holiday is to cycle the Tour de France route, has for the last few years used the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge race as an opportunity to raise funds to fight through sponsoring his annual effort. Many thousands of dollars have been raised as a result. However, this year work commitments have taken him out of the country, so he refocused and found an equally challenging substitute. With the support of the team at 24/7 Fitness at Auckland Airport he set his sights on completing eight full hour long RPM high intensity indoor cycling classes in six days from November 16 to 21. 

“I usually try and do three RPM classes a week, so this was quite a challenge to put in a top effort in each class during the week”, Richard said adding, “the intensity and pain levels are high, but the fulfilment in the end is awesome.”

Sponsorship raised $2500, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching this 2 to 1, Richard is justifiably proud of the $7500 total that his efforts have contributed to The Rotary Foundation’s global Polio Plus project this year.

“The most satisfying part of the week was the support I received from 24/7 Fitness. Their Manager Maureen Reihana took three of these classes and embraced my challenge, put signs up around the gym to promote it, and this enthusiasm spread to all the others doing the classes during the week. As well as raising valuable sponsorship funds, I have managed to educate a lot of people about Polio and the good work that Rotary has done with this Polio eradication project for so many years.”

Side bar about Polio: 

Imagine a world free of deadly pandemic disease. People like philanthropist Bill Gates and Rotarians throughout the world do.

Rotary International has partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many governments of the world in a campaign to help eradicate the world of this deadly disease. In 1979 when the first Polio vaccinations began, there were 125 countries infected with endemic levels of Polio virus. Hundreds of thousands of people each year suffered devastating sickness, paralysis, deformity of limbs and for a significant number, ultimately death. A simple vaccine however has changed this picture and eradication is now in our sights.

Since 1979 the combined global vaccination efforts have reduced the spread of Polio virus. Afganistan and Pakistan, with their warzone borders, now remain the last two countries with significant levels of the wild Polio virus. As with all disease, it can be easily spread if precautions are not put in place and Rotary along with its partners remain hard at work supporting the vaccination programs globally.  Bill Gates fronts a popular campaign holding up his hand with a small gap between his thumb and forefinger. “We’re this close”, Rotarian Richard Thorpe says to eradicating Polio. This will only be the second such virus to be eliminated since the WHO declared the world free of Smallpox in 1980.  

Words: Assistant Governor Mike Jaggs, of the Rotary Club of Botany East Tamaki, NZ
Photos: President Elect Richard Thorpe, of the Rotary Club of Botany East Tamaki, NZ

Chance in a million for Cambodian student

Cambodian student Sok Vanda
The Rotary Club of Plimmerton, NZ is providing financial support for a female student to undergo a 4 year undergraduate course at Svey Rieng University in Cambodia. The scholarship is a new scheme started as the brain-child of a New Zealander, Bill Shields, who is a resident teacher/adviser at the university and the first foreigner employed there. Like many community schemes, it has grown from his personal contact with Rotarians.

Svay Rieng is a poor rural part of Cambodia in the south-east of the country near the border with Vietnam at Bavet. It is not a tourist area, so there are very few foreigners there. The university was built in 2005 and opened in 2006 thanks to donations from wealthy families who have connections with the province. The aim of the university is to provide affordable education for the young people of the province.

The Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975 and remained in control until 1979. During that time, over 2 million were killed, including academics and people who looked like academics. The education system was destroyed with schools converted into pig sties and prisons. From 1980 until the mid-1990s, there was a period of civil war while various factions fought for control. This ended with Hun Sen taking control and he remains in power now. With some stability, the slow rebuild of the education system has begun.

While change is starting to take place in the large cities, in the poor rural areas the value of a young woman is her virginity, so she can be sold into marriage. This is done to get money to feed the rest of the family, or in some cases, to send a son to university. Young women who lose their virginity, either through rape or pre-marital sex, are often discarded or put out into the streets. Some are then rescued by the Cambodian Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR) and are provided with shelter, food and basic education. Some of these girls end up with CCPCR as young as four after being raped by someone within their own family. Most end up in poor paying factory work, so they do not get the opportunity of a university education.

The purpose of this scheme is to bring these young women and Svay Rieng University together, through the provision of scholarships, which will enable them to get a university education and then be role models for others. The selection process is focussed on disadvantaged young women who have the ability to be successful in their study. Study priority areas are English, Business Studies and Information Technology. These young women have a strong positive outlook and this scheme will provide an incentive for them to study hard to try and obtain a scholarship.

The first student to be selected is a young woman called Sok Vanda, who comes from a poor family. Her parents are manual workers. She has one brother and three sisters and they live at Ta Pov village. In Cambodia, the family name goes first, so her first name is Vanda and Sok is her family name.

It is hoped that this will be just the start and others will also see the value of the scholarship scheme and offer their support too. If any clubs wish to know more, please contact Rotary Club of Plimmerton President Adrienne Murray via or +64 27 439 6418.   It only needs a few hundred dollars a year to give a whole generation a bright new future.

 Words and photos: Wendy Betteridge, Rotary Club of Plimmerton, NZ