BizVenture 2019

Thailand

Brooke Moore
Brooke Moore
Tauhara College (Taupo)

As one of five students who were selected to represent their Global Kaitiakitanga Project businesses in Thailand, I can say that this experience has certainly helped me to see the differences in sustainable business culture between Thailand and New Zealand. Getting to experience this alongside 9 other driven, intelligent students was also incredible, and getting their perspectives on the things we saw and learned helped me to consider other possibilities and see things through a new, well-rounded paradigm.

As we drove down the motorway to Central Bangkok, I noticed many similarities between Vietnam and Thailand, however made some distinctions: Thailand roads are less chaotic, and the buildings and city layout are much more Western. I also noticed that the streets were cleaner, but there was still a massive need for change. With Thailand being in the top 5 countries contributing to ocean plastic pollution, serious action needs to be taken. I learned through the business visits - particularly NZTE, Patom Organics and PIM that Thailand is working towards a sustainable future by reducing their single use plastic - things like straws and plastic bags. I was glad, therefore, to receive a reusable straw on the first day! But more than this, I was super happy that Wrapt had quite a good chance at succeeding here for this reason. We learned that 7/11 is looking towards a more sustainable future, particularly with the younger generations' interest in taking care of their country.

I also noticed straight away that Bangkok was quite green around the city centre compared to Ho Chi Minh. There were more trees and less rubbish, but the problem was more in the rivers and streams along the highways and in the slum villages. As mentioned earlier, the people of Bangkok are now paying more attention to these problems and are making changes to help reduce their use of single use plastics. Me and my team - made up of one other New Zealand student and a Thai student - worked together to put our learnings from the week into a presentation that showed how these findings have helped us in understanding Wrapt's potential in Thailand, and what we could bring back to New Zealand to help push our businesses further.

In 2017, Thailand contributed to 27.4 million tonnes of plastic waste - of this 4.2 million was generated in Bangkok alone. These overwhelming statistics helped us to see the need for Thailand to work towards a more sustainable future.

Sustainability in Thailand is mostly driven through cultural, social, and most importantly economic sustainability. This is because there is a large number of the population living below the poverty line and their top priority is to make sure that they can survive from day to day and have enough money to live and feed their families. The Klong Toey community is a good reflection of this. We saw that they were struggling and in turn, so was the environment. This opened our eyes to the outcomes that living in such poor conditions can have. We realised that to make a real change in environmental sustainability, there first had to be a change in economic sustainability so that they can think about life in the future, not worry about life in the present. 

However, environmental change can be made with the help of large corporates like the CP Group and

SCG through the idea of a circular economy, caring for your resources, and caring for your waste just as Tetrapak and Fiber Pattana do by giving back to communities and those who don’t have the resources to make a change themselves. 

I really loved Tetrapak's recycling of waste to make a variety of products including fireproof roofs, chairs, tables and walls. Wouldn't it be amazing if all of the buildings in Bangkok were made from recycled materials? It's companies like Tetrapak that I look up to, the companies that truly care about making a change and push for their innovations to be made a reality. 

Another company that I really loved was Patom Organics. Not only was the atmosphere incredible and green and relaxing, the food delectable and the shop amazing - their mission was just awesome. Patom helps farmers that have been taken advantage of by allowing them to become organic farmers, the produce of which they use in their cafe. They also host markets where the farmers can sell their organic produce. I instantly fell in love with Patom as human welfare is one of my biggest concerns. I felt like buying the whole store to support these farmers but restrained myself and bought a Thai tea latte and a 10 baht rice dessert.

Team Wrapt briefly discussed in our pitch that if we were to ever launch in Thailand, we would certainly source our freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders from local organic farmers to help the sustainable circle go around.

 

I would love to thank the Young Enterprise Scheme and SEACAPE for planning this once-in-a-lifetime journey. We all came back with minds filled to the brim with Thai business knowledge, and I personally came back with a fresh, clean head - while the week was insanely busy, I was able to let go of all the stresses of business and school back home and focus solely on Wrapt in Thailand. Bangkok, I will be back, and this time without any giant drops of any kind.

Olivia Hubber
Olivia Hubber
St. Margaret's College (Christchurch)

This business trip to Thailand has allowed me to grow and develop as a person. My business knowledge has grown enormously, and I have also gained the confidence to trust myself. I never thought in my wildest of dreams that I would be able to have this opportunity. From the moment I met the group, we all bonded instantly due to our similar values and passions. I have felt supported and safe to step out of my comfort zone. This trip has provided me with the resources to put myself in a fast-paced and forwardthinking environment. I have fully immersed myself in the culture offered and made the most of every opportunity.

We heard from Dr Thitinan from Chulalongkorn University, Dr Pavida from Thammasat University, the New Zealand Embassy, NZTE, Patom Organics, TetraPak, Local Alike, Good Travel, CP Group, Lexicon, Wave One, Kai New Zealand, SCG, True Digital Park and Hubba. Each of these engagements offered us extensive insight into the different sectors of the Thai market.

I found it interesting to hear about how Local Alike works with community’s and teaches them how to build a business and tourism attractions to ensure the community is sustainable. This sector in Thailand must be nurtured as the tourism industry is worth $90 billion. That evening with Local Alike we also did a Thai cooking class that was extremely fun and encouraged me to try new foods. This experience was truly special and something I will remember forever.

I also found Patom Organics inspiring. Their vision is to create a sustainable food system and have a balanced living. It was great to see how their full process is made from direct contact with farmers to selling fresh and organic produce. They are a transparent and involved business. It was lovely to see their ethics and values reflected throughout their business strategy and approach.

When visiting True Digital Park it was inspiring to see their innovative and forward-thinking working environment. I was so happy to see a Google area there, as this is where I wish to get an internship in the future. True Digital offers workspaces for like-minded people to grow and develop ideas and businesses. It was inspiring to walk around there building and see first hand hard working and passionate people following their dreams.

As well as this we visited Hubba who work with companies in unleashing their innovation potential, along with supporting small businesses. Hubba loves Thai startups and wants to promote their success. It has a database of over 400 Thai startups that are continuously being updated so that you know exactly what's going on in our ecosystem. This was an unforgettable opportunity as each student including myself were able to ask specific and direct questions. I also enjoyed this visit as Hubba is partnered with google and after meeting with Hubba I have been able to get direct contacts with Google to help me in the future. One of the key things I have learned on the trip is to put yourself out there and build connections. This skill is something that I can use throughout my whole life.

We also heard from the New Zealand Trade Enterprise, this allowed us to understand how we can enter the Thai market sustainably and economically. Their aim is to intentional grow businesses bigger, better and faster for the benefits of New Zealand. An important take away from this was to thoroughly think through the fine details of your product before bringing it into a new market. These things include - words, images, sizes, colours and ingredients. This is important as what may be an amazing design in New Zealand may not be the same in Thailand due to tradition, culture and environments.

So as I come to reflect on this trip, I am filled with immense joy and knowledge. I was able to work alongside other students from New Zealand and the International school (Shrewsbury) in Thailand. All this knowledge allowed me to present a presentation with 2 other students about how Sam Wixon’s product of an alternative to polystyrene bins would fit into the Thai market. With the expertise gained throughout the week and the experiences we had, we were able to analyse Sam Wixon's company Te Kete ō Tangaroa and confidently create a presentation to the judges that incorporated the Thai culture, specific facts, expert advice and knowledge. We worked with Pride who attends Shrewsbury International School In Bangkok. Our hard work paid off as we came 2nd.

I am amazed that I was able to be emerged in such high business knowledge and be surrounded by experts who are internationally recognised on the global stage in there area. I am excited to implement the knowledge and resources gained from this trip into my future. I know that this is most definitely the area I wish to learn more about at tertiary education. I am about to attend The University Of Auckland in 2020 studying a conjoint in Commerce and Arts. I am constantly inspired to follow my dreams and never limit myself and this trip has shown me to put myself out there and good things will come. I would like to express my deepest thanks to Young Enterprise New Zealand and SEA CAPE for this opportunity! I will remember all the wonderful memories and treasure them as I continue to develop my knowledge in this field.

Jake Newlands
Jake Newlands
St Andrew's College (Christchurch)

At the beginning of October, I was fortunate enough to be given the incredible opportunity to travel to Thailand on a trip which has undoubtedly grown my business knowledge and shifted my mindset on the issue of sustainability. Filled with anticipation, nerves but most of all excitement (feelings that had been building over the past 4 weeks) our arrival into Thailand seemed almost surreal. The week that followed was more incredible then one could ever imagine, an action-packed seven days filled with lots of learning about both culture and business, and of course many laughs and good times. This trip opened myself to society and culture which is sometimes hard to understand from 10,000 km away, fundamentally changing the way I view global business and issues.

This unique experience is something which I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of and therefore I would like to extend a massive thank you to SEA cape. Your continued Investment into students like us has enabled me to have this extraordinary learning experience which I would have never been exposed to otherwise. This continued funding for trips like these enables students like me and the others on this Thailand trip to grow as individuals, and better equips us to work in business both domestically and internationally in the future. In my application, I discussed how I wanted the opportunity to deepen my understanding of business and sustainability on a global scale, and through your generous support, this has most definitely been achieved. 

A Significant thank you also needs to be extended to Young Enterprise, who continue to provide fantastic opportunities for students like me throughout New Zealand ever year. Not only this trip but all throughout the year the support from Young Enterprise has fueled my passion for business. Young Enterprise has enabled my quest for business to go beyond classroom learning, giving me the opportunity for real learning to occur. 

As well as the generous funding, immense work has gone into making this opportunity possible and therefore gratitude must further be extended to the two organisations, and in particular Colin, Sian and Brona for all the organising prior and during the trip. The commitment and enthusiasm that these chaperones showed to us was superb, and the respect and compassion they showed us helped create a special team, making the experience even more surreal. 

Before departing on this life-changing experience, our team established 5 goals in which we wanted to achieve throughout this trip, which were:

  1. Be disciplined to ensure we gain the most out of the fantastic experience
  2. Create personal business connections and build upon the New Zealand and Asian business connections
  3. Gain an understanding of Thailand’s culture
  4. Learn about different ways in which sustainability is being incorporated into business in Thailand
  5. Gain business knowledge to bring back to our business which can assist us in any future business endeavours

These five goals that we set out for ourselves remained with us throughout the week and were achieved greatly each day. Throughout the week we were fortunate enough to have over a dozen fascinating speakers present to us, all of which had different messages and experiences to share. These engaging and informative business representatives not only taught us about their personal experiences of business and sustainability but provoked us to reflect for ourselves on how we can become better business people and more sustainability-conscious. 

Our visit to the New Zealand Embassy, a local University and a local community on the first day of our trip gave us great insight into the culture and business sphere of Thailand, as well as a political and economic overview of the country. This overview provided me with and understanding of the current instability between the countries Monarch and Politicians, provoking thoughts which remained with me throughout the entire trip surrounding the potential future paths of this country. At the New Zealand Embassy I learnt great amounts about the trade relationship between New Zealand and Thailand, a great overview which was then carried with us throughout the week. 

The visit to the Slums of Khong Toei exposed us to unseen levels of plastic waste which consumed the community, a striking reminder of our need for better plastic practices. This made me realise that many of those living in dire situations are too focused on immediate survival to consider the impact their actions are having on the future planet, highlighting the responsibility that I have as a citizen of New Zealand to use my privilege to better the world. This also made evident that fact that it is often businesses responsibility more so than consumers to promote and incorporate sustainability. The learnings from day one provided context for the business visits which followed in the remainder of the week and triggered thoughts and queries that followed us as we met with different people. 

Our business visits taught us a lot about the need for sustainability in Thailand and how it’s being encouraged throughout the business community. I was interested to learn about the struggles both the farming and fisheries industry in Thailand are facing, with overuse of chemicals and pollutants killing fish and destroying fertile land. As both vital sectors in the country’s economy, this is deeply concerning for some, however, is still going unrecognised by others due to a lack of environmental education. A common sustainable tactic that was often raised throughout the week was education, which is being used to promote recycling, organic farming and conscious consumerism. We were also introduced to business which was adopting the circular economy method, another interesting way to improve sustainable practices. This made me realise the need for awareness surrounding sustainability in order for people to be incentivised to take action. 

Our tours through PIM university and true digital park gave us an exciting look at the future of business and the incorporation of the newest technologies, another exciting aspect of the trip. 

All of the talks which were experienced throughout the week were educational in a different way. The Q&A sessions that concluded each talk were fantastic opportunities for more direct questions to be asked regarding sustainability or information for the weeks business challenge. The varying nature of the speakers and the vast variety of topics and industries ensured that something different was gained each time we listened, with new business tips and advice being handed to us every day. The business knowledge we gained on this trip is extremely valuable and unlike any classroom learning, broadening our knowledge with a global context. This knowledge is extremely valuable for us as we return to New Zealand and continue to pursue our YES business. 

This experience is definitely one of the best educational opportunities available to young students within New Zealand, as there is truly nothing which can beat real-life business visits and cultural immersion. This opportunity goes well beyond any learning that occurs in a classroom and has grown not only my business knowledge but also me as an individual. I would definitely (and will) recommend this remarkable opportunity to any student who is interested in business, as the opportunities that experience provides are second to none. Thank you very much again for providing me with this extraordinary experience.

Finn McCabe
Finn McCabe
Cashmere High School (Christchurch)

The trip to Thailand is one that has expanded me as a person in my cultural understanding and has expanded my business knowledge and provided me with many valuable learnings and contacts. I have made the most of this by always trying to hand a business card to and connect with the speakers that we heard from. I have connected with many of these people on Linkedin now. 

It was great to hear that other people from Christchurch would be going on this trip as well so that we could be together for the full length of the journey, we all got along really well! Everyone on the trip was so nice and lovely to talk to and connect with. They were all passionate about sustainability and making a positive change as well as having an interest in business and entrepreneurship. Sharing these similar qualities meant that we all gelled really well together. The Thai students we're also a perfect fit as they brought an insider perspective and a new way of thinking into the groups.

The cultural activities that we did were eye-opening and increased my cultural understanding in Thailand so that in the future it can make it easier to better understand the market, consumer behaviors, and to increase my cultural knowledge of Thailand and the first look into ASEAN (Southeast Asia). My favorite cultural that we did was going to the Khlong Toei community and seeing how life and what they do to merely survive. These people lived in very simple conditions and most were struggling day today. It doesn't take you long to realize the cultural and social wrong in Thailand with the inequity between the rich and the poor. This is what needs to change first as this inequality will only grow and get worse, it is nowhere near sustainable. This was a real eye-opener and it only made me realize how lucky we have it in New Zealand. It was also amazing to have a chance to learn and practice the local language, it was something that I latched onto and really started to enjoy in the end as it opened a whole other world and part of Thailand and the Thai people. 

The best business that we had the pleasure and honor of going to was the CP Group. They are one of the largest businesses in Thailand and even the world. Huge conglomerates like that inspire me to see how they can grow so quickly and with such success. Their vertical integration model was interesting to hear about and how they alter their businesses and model their subsidiary around convenience, productivity, and the market they are in. They own all 12,000 7/11s in Thailand, this was valuable as it related to Wrapt, the business that I was working on for the challenge, as it ended up to be a perfect potential partner and would mean that there would be a maximum chance for success in the Thai market. We found out many things about business in Thailand and the Thai economy from the talks at the Thai university in Bangkok and how Thailand is very politically unstable yet the economy is described as kevlar, meaning that whatever you throw at it like political unrest it won't affect its strong and stable economy. Learning about the Thai economy, Thai businesses, and the Thai consumer was useful not only for the challenge but also for my current business, JELF, which is developing bioplastic applications. Bangkok and Thailand is a huge market due to its sheer size (70million population of Thailand, 7million Bangkok) and its focus on environmental sustainability, especially in institutions like schools and big corporates. 

This trip has been absolutely insane and I never thought I would ever be offered an experience quite like this. Never at the start of this year would I have thought I would go to Thailand on a fully paid trip and learn so much with other such talented and inspiring people. The connections that I have made inside of Thailand and outside of Thailand will remain constant and healthy as we are like-minded and passionate about making a positive change. It has been an absolute honour to go on this trip, it has shaped me into a better me and I will never ever forget this. I have already set up a meeting with one business connection from Thailand when they visit New Zealand next year and another, I've been messaging on Linkedin and they are giving me advice with my start-up and pitching for the regional finals of Young Enterprise Scheme.  Thank you once again, it was an absolute pleasure and honour to be selected for this trip.

Something which I will never forget.

Sam Wixon
Sam Wixon
Havelock North High School

The lead-up to Thailand was nerve-racking. As we were drip-fed details and information my excitement really built. But finally receiving the BizVenture Thailand Handbook was when it all became quite real! I was about to meet up with 9 amazing students to head off to Thailand!

As I was on this trip as part of my selection for The Global Kaitiakitanga Project I was extra excited. Being able to work on your business overseas, meet experts and explore how your business fits with international markets is something many adult business owners are lucky to be able to do, let alone a 17 year-old. 

As everyone began to arrive at the regional terminal the mixture of nerves and excitement really built. We left the terminal and made our way to the strata lounge. It was really awesome to see how 10 strangers could get along so well after only an hour or so. After boarding the plane and then making it through our Singapore transfer, we were finally on the home stretch to Bangkok. As we started coming down to land the vast cityscape of Bangkok became clear, it was nothing like what you see in New Zealand. It was suburbia as far as the eye could see.

When looking back on what we did in Thailand it really breaks down into four key areas; learning about business, sustainability, culture and lastly our presentations. So I am going to talk about my experiences through each of these.

In terms of business in Thailand, I honestly went into this trip somewhat sceptical of how great Thailand would be in terms of business. Knowing that the country was less economically developed swayed this perception. However, my perception of Thailand was fully swung during the trip. 

We went to some truly amazing businesses along the way, but one that had a huge impact on my business was our visit to Hubba. Hubba is a business creating coworking spaces for startups, and also providing mentoring to those startups. Hubba was invaluable for me and for the others as they discussed our individual businesses with us and provided us with potential connections and helpful advice. Hubba gave a really good insight into the huge untapped potential in Thailand, they were somewhat behind other countries so there were untapped markets that were just starting or rearing to get going. For example, e-commerce was one area they discussed and the huge increase in internet use for commerce over recent years in Thailand. Another person we met was David, from Lexicon. Lexicon is a digital marketing firm who were set up in Thailand, they focus on using storytelling. David was incredibly helpful in terms of business, both because of his vast range of clients but also his own personal experience staring in Thailand. From David, we learnt about entrance into Thailand, for example, the need for 50% Thai ownership. He was also great in discussing the trends and behaviour of Thai people, this came from his experience in marketing. For example, he was able to tell us that only the very rich and young within Thailand actually actively care about sustainability and make choices based on this.

Overall when looking at the Thai business ecosystem I found that it was a really vibrant and bustling place. This trip really provided me with some excitement towards the future and the potential of countries like Thailand to become the movers and shakers for the world.

Looking at Thailand and sustainability was quite interesting. I found Thailand wasn’t as far ahead as New Zealand however it was evident that in Thai society there is an awareness of environmental impacts and there does seem to be a movement, although small, to make changes. From what I heard, the speakers could see this movement increasing in the near future. One business we went too who really captured this movement was Patom organics, Patom created a business structure that shifted the farmers who supplied their hotel from using chemicals to fully organic products. Patom created a system which was not only environmentally sustainable but also economically sustainable, as part of their system was eliminating the middle man, between the farmer and hotel. This meant the farmers could make more money off their crops along with the lower cost of organics compared to chemicals. We also meet Claudia from Wave One, she was a really interesting speaker. Her work was based around fighting for environmentally friendly practices in big firms. She really portrayed the drive to have a tangible change in firms and not just green-washing. I also found more generally when we were walking around Thailand the amount of plastic pollution was quite astounding. In relation to my business, I am developing an alternative to polystyrene, and seeing the huge amount of polystyrene being used and polluted everywhere was really quite a driver and motivator to really get my bins developed and ready for sale.

Thailand’s culture was incredibly vibrant. Both the traditional culture but also modern culture. One amazing experience we had was dinner at Silom village. This was one experience I don’t think I will ever have again. At Silom, we had a big dinner with lots of different thai dishes followed by a Thai dance performance. This really showed how rich the traditional culture was. Another cultural experience was going to Klong Toei, a slum in Bangkok. We went on a tour with local guides from the slum. This was a really eye-opening and humbling experience, it really showed me how lucky we are in New Zealand. A highlight in particular for me was going to the night markets. This was really awesome for me as bartering was a new experience, and I found it really interesting trying it out. It was definitely enjoyable and I managed to find some good gifts for family and a few things for myself while we were there. Along with this, the street food in these markets was amazing too.

Lastly, our presentations. Creating the final presentations was a really valuable part of this trip. It forced us to really analyse and understand what we had learnt and experienced throughout the week. In fact, all the different things I mentioned above in some way affected the presentation my team and I created. Along with this working with Pride, the Thai student Olivia and I were partnered with was really great. I think having him there really helped us understand more deeply Thailand. The Thai students, in general, were really amazing to work with. They were incredibly welcoming and friendly. And really made our whole trip that much better.

I’d like to express my gratefulness to the Young Enterprise Scheme and SEASCAPE for creating such an incredible and life-changing experience. I’d also like to thank both Shelley from Good Travel who arranged all of our meetings and experiences, as well as Khun Tony our hilarious local guide. Going to Thailand was a truly inspiring and motivating experience, and to anyone on the fence about applying for any of the trips YES has to offer I strongly recommend going for it because it will be one of the greatest things you do.

Avdeep Kaur
Avdeep Kaur
Auckland Girls' Grammar School

From being the last one to arrive at the Auckland International Airport to worrying about my luggage exceeding the weight limit, I knew I was in for a treat. As soon as we stepped foot outside the Suvarnabhumi Airport, I felt the thick, humid air cling to my body like a second skin. In that very instance, I knew this was going to be a long, long week. But I couldn’t be any more wrong. 

The days flew by, and the hours turned into minutes, and minutes into seconds. Our very first day was well spent taking a stroll at Lumpini Park, that was opened by King Rama VI in the 1920s. It was like a never-ending maze and wearing a knitted jumper in the scorching heat was not the smartest decision. 

Nonetheless, it proved to be a great bonding experience and we were all in hysterics upon witnessing three magpies try to fight an alligator over a fish (not sure if I got the animals right, but at least we’re on the same page). As we ventured on our walk, we took in the cultural differences between Thailand and New Zealand as we watched elderly people doing Zumba and going on a jog/run in the middle of the day, with the temperature well above 30°C. Let’s just say we were in awe upon seeing this - although it didn’t quite inspire us to join in.     

We were introduced to five Thai students from Shrewsbury International School at our visit to the New Zealand Embassy, where we indulged them in a karakia and waitata. These are the five students who would be working alongside us on the business challenge. The Thai students not only played a significant role in helping us understand and adjust to the Thai culture, but they were also a phenomenon group of young adults that ensured we had a great time during our short, yet invaluable, stay in Bangkok. Even while writing this, I feel nostalgic and am eagerly waiting till I next visit Thailand to meet my friends that I have grown so fond of.    

Throughout the trip, we had several Thai language lessons with Khun Tony, who was less of a tour guide and more of a friend. We learnt introductory phrases and simple pleasantries like ‘thank you’ and ‘nice to meet you’, and we tried to put these to use daily. We even managed to sing along to ‘Sabai Sabai’ in the party bus, thanks to the Thai language lessons with Khun Tony. The language was a barrier, however, due to the welcoming nature of the Thai people, we managed to work our way around it. It was  comforting to meet such hospitable people wherever we went - from the lady who saved me from being  chased by dogs during our community tour at Khlong Toei, to the people who took their time out of their  busy schedules to teach us about their businesses.     

This BizVenture to Thailand has been an eye-opening experience as it has given me the opportunity to forehandedly witness the contrast between New Zealand and Thailand. I have been able to see the difference between the social classes and become aware of the wealth inequality that has negatively affected the lives of many Thai individuals and families. I have found that due to this wealth inequality, the consumer culture of Thailand has mainly sought to a ‘do not care’ attitude as they do not have the means to care about sustainability - they focus on their current survival. This is because the majority of the population of Thailand is made up of individuals that are on low incomes and all they see is the cheaper and more affordable option which happens to be products that do not have a positive impact on  our environment.     

However, some people do understand the importance of sustainability like the majority of the businesses we visited, as they have a strong focus on environmental and social sustainability. Hence, my most favourite visit was to Patom Organic Living. It is a hotel and restaurant run by two brothers that strongly focus on sustainable business practices. They try to encourage sustainable living in Thailand by helping farmers grow sustainable and organic produce for their consumers. It is refreshing to see that despite Thailand being a developing country, some of its residents do understand the dire need to create positive and sustainable change to preserve nature for future generations.     

This entire experience has shed a new light around doing business in Thailand, especially anything technology-based as they have already embraced the digital age, and with each person on average  spending 9 hours and 11 minutes on the internet each day, shows there is, in fact, increasing demand in  the Thai market.     

The newfound knowledge that I have gained and the connections I have built globally through this trip will be useful for my future endeavours. The students at Shrewsbury International School have become lifelong friends and I would love to visit them soon. This week-long experience in Bangkok was invaluable and was spent with the best people. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this trip turn out the way it did. I feel immense gratitude towards Young Enterprise Scheme, Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence and Good Travel for making this trip possible. Khob khun kha! 

Adam Jonkers
Adam Jonkers
Glendowie College (Auckland)

The 2019 SEA CAPE BizVenture trip to Thailand was one of the best experiences of my life. At first the idea of travelling to Thailand with a group of people I had never met seemed crazy. Although as soon as I got to meet everyone at the airport, I could tell that it was going to be an amazing experience.

Once we made it to Thailand we were lucky enough to be able to meet with a wide range of companies from around Bangkok focusing on sustainability as well as with some professors from a local university this gave us the opportunity to learn about sustainability and how its implemented in Thailand from many different perspectives. Sustainability and pollution are becoming huge issues in Thailand and the government is starting to recognise that as they have announced Thailand 4.0 that aims to tackle inequality and to bring Thailand into the 21st Century while reducing their waste and carbon emissions. Although there is still a long way for Thailand to go before it can become an environmentally friendly country as there are many people that don't know about the issue and due to extreme inequality there are many people living in poverty that are unable to spend the extra money on an environmentally friendly option as they are still struggling to survive.

Throughout the trip we were lucky to be able to engage with the Thai culture through activities such as exploring the local community Klong Toei and watching some traditional dancing. We were also able to learn some basics of the language such as ‘yindettdai ruu juk’ which means nice to meet you. During our trip we were able to work with some local Thai students. Meeting with these students and getting to know them was one of the highlights of the trip as they were all extremely friendly and enthusiastic constantly answering our questions and helping us with learning the Thai language.

This trip is something that I will never forget it taught me so much about Business in Thailand and Thailand's culture as well as many new thoughts, ideas and skills that I will be constantly coming back to throughout my education and future business endeavours. Alongside all the many skills and ideas that I have gained from this trip I have also gained many new connections in Thailand as well as new friends in both Thailand and New Zealand. One of the best parts of this trip was being able to get to know and work alongside other highly motivated New Zealand and Thai entrepreneurs creating a network of young entrepreneurs for us to utilise in the future. This trip was an amazing opportunity and I will always be grateful to Young Enterprise and SEA CAPE.

Olivia Moore
Olivia Moore
Tauhara College (Taupo)

Spending a week in Thailand, immersing myself in the culture, business environment and lifestyle, has shaken me from my small view of the world back in New Zealand. Having been a student in a previous BizVenture trip to Vietnam - my only other international experience besides Australia - I had preconceived ideas about how Thailand - and all Southeast Asian countries for that matter - operated. However, as the week progressed, I discovered more and more how unaware I was not only of business culture, but also of Thai people and their views and opinions, and how this applies to business. This helped me to realise that living and doing business in one country is not the same as any other - and regardless of their close proximity, neighbouring countries are still very different in their culture and views.

I must admit: I came into Thailand expecting to understand their business culture due to my learnings in Vietnam. However, after the first day, as we toured around Bangkok, one thing that stood out to me was the country’s greener environment. Although not comparable to New Zealand, Bangkok’s skies were bluer, streets cleaner and city greener than Ho Chi Minh City. This advancement in environmental sustainability was enforced throughout the week, as many businesses we visited displayed action against, or awareness of, the degradation of our earth. This was in stark contrast to Vietnam, where many were unaware of why we, as New Zealand tourists, tried to reduce our plastic usage and reuse plastic water bottles. I found this quite interesting, given the two countries’ proximity.

This early realisation made me eager to learn more about the country’s awareness of environmental sustainability, forming the basis for our main learnings on the trip.

After an eye-opening Monday, learning about Thai history, politics and business culture, as well as experiencing the community lifestyle of Khlong Toei, I felt equipped with background knowledge to help me better understand Thai culture and therefore the businesses we would visit throughout the week. One thing I particularly noticed was Thailand’s dedication for their king and the royal family - highlighting our oblivion (and perhaps indifference) as New Zealanders towards our queen and the royal family. Although Thailand’s government has cycled between monarchy and democracy, the country’s economy has remained consistent and is slowly growing. Respect for the monarchy is an integral part of Thai culture, and a point to consider when doing business in Thailand that is perhaps not of much importance in New Zealand.

From a New Zealand standpoint, respect for our people and place - kaitiakitanga - is an increasingly important part of business. As a collective group of kiwi students doing our bit for the environment through our businesses, we were all eager to learn about the implementation of sustainable practises in Thai businesses. As David from Lexicon said: “Sustainability is becoming a business model”. Sustainability is certainly a business model in New Zealand, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Thailand is waking up to the importance of environmental sustainability.

I thoroughly enjoyed the range of businesses packed into our schedule. Although at first glance, all businesses may not have seemed environmentally driven, all incorporated sustainable practises at least to some extent.

As the sole trader of a plant-based, eco-friendly food business Top That! Meal Toppers, I was particularly intrigued by Patom Organics. If it wasn’t evident from my camera-happy frollicking upon arrival, it surely showed that while listening to Khun Arrut speak about the history of the business, to its work in the Sampran Model Movement transforming farmers’ lives by helping them transition to organic, I closely aligned with this business’ values and was so inspired by their transformative work! It was also mentioned that the increase in food allergies and intolerances among consumers is partly due to our exposure to chemicals or additives which weaken the immune system - something I have researched myself and try to solve with my own business. It was also quite a surprise to see an organic farm in Thailand, when the idea of environmental sustainability is relatively new to Southeast Asia. This was a great business to explore early, as it challenged what I thought I knew about Thailand and set the scene for the rest of the trip.

Another insightful visit particularly relevant to my business was TetraPak and Fiber Pattana. I learnt that the colour coded recycling bins used in Thailand caused confusion and were therefore not an effective method of collecting and managing waste for recycling. We agreed that the most important solution to our plastic problem (collectively “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle”) is to reduce the amount of plastic or packaging produced in the first place. One way Top That! Is working to help reduce plastic waste is through its “Re-Use & Save Scheme” This scheme encourages customers to return their empty packets to Top That!, where they will be refilled and sent back at a discounted price. This will be a first taste at recycling for many and will encourage consumers to reorder (as the scheme works through reorders on Top That!’s website). When explaining this scheme during Top That!’s presentation on Friday, the judges mentioned that there may be some hygiene issues I would need to work around to make the scheme successful. I have since been in contact with my local Environmental Health Officer about this, and have therefore found this visit, and the trip as a whole, very valuable in the development of my business towards environmental sustainability.

While the business visits provided valuable insights into the Thai business environment and how sustainability is perceived and incorporated into Thai business, I am a huge fan of culture and cuisine and really enjoyed this aspect of the trip. I was intrigued by Thai cuisine - as Thailand has never been colonised, there was very little Western influence on the cuisine and, unlike Vietnam, whose cuisine hints to French and Chinese influence (eg. bahn mi and breads; or the principal of yin and yang applied to the composition of dishes), Thai cuisine is very traditional and combines flavours unusual to Western cultures. For example, one of my favourite dishes was Bua Loy; a dessert of glutinous rice dumplings and soft-poached egg served in a sweet coconut milk sauce. A close contender was Sohm Choon - a fruity dessert of lychee, mango, grapes and fried shallots (yes, shallots!) served in a jasmine syrup. Both of these desserts combine flavours which are unusual to Western tastes, but as a major foodie I was keen to try these and absolutely loved them! One thing I wanted to take away from this trip was a new point of view on cooking, with a desire to be inspired by Thai flavours and cooking methods to incorporate into my own business. A meal topper inspired by these flavours may be difficult to introduce onto the New Zealand market, however, would be a suitable fit on the Thai market as these flavours are familiar and consumers would therefore be intrigued to see them combined into a crunchy meal topper or snack.

Thailand has certainly inspired me to become even more adventurous and creative with my food - something I hoped to take away from the trip!

All in all, I am extremely grateful for YES, SEACAPE and all of the people and organisations involved with making the Thailand BizVenture trip possible. This opportunity has been incredible, and although I have become attached to the lifestyle and the people I met through the trip, I am excited to apply my learnings to my own life and business back in New Zealand. Becoming aware of new cultures and business environments has been eye-opening, and I am excited to travel in the future and explore new markets and opportunities for my business!

Rebecca Renwick
Rebecca Renwick
Albany Senior High School (Auckland)

When I sat down to write my reflection, I had no idea how to start. How can I possibly fit such an intense trip into a couple of paragraphs? But none the less I am going to try.

Stepping into the airport on Saturday the 28th of September 2019, I was filled with nerves and a massive case of imposter syndrome. Seeing everyone in their matching SEA CAPE backpacks and hats was even more intimidating and I started to wonder what I was doing there. At this point, I had no idea I would be stepping into one of the most incredible experiences of my life and within a week these strangers would grow to become some of my closest friends.

As we arrived in Thailand, we were tired from two sleepless flights filled with giggles and a lot of getting to know each other. The hotel was gorgeous and at this point, it still didn’t feel real. After a quick change, our first day consisted of a guided walk around our local area, a stop at a cafe/art gallery, a dip in the hotel pool for some of us and a filling hotel meal. The aim of the first day was to tire us out and it definitely did just that - after a little more bonding for the whole team everyone was knackered and we were asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows.

The second day was just a taster of how busy and full-on our trip was going to be. We visited

Chulalongkorn University to hear from two amazing speakers about Thai history and economics. This was followed by a trip to the NZ Embassy and a talk with NZTE.

At the embassy, we met the 5 Thai Students from Shrewsbury International School that we would be working with over the week. The Thai students stayed with us for the rest of the day as we visited the Klong Toei, had our first Thai language lesson and visited Silom Village for a delicious dinner and performance.

Whilst visiting the Klong Toei we saw a very different side of Thailand. It showed us how in some places sustainability just isn’t a priority as people are more focused on survival. I think we forget about this, we forget that although we are lucky enough to have the option to swap to sustainable products some people don’t even have access to clean water so a reusable straw or banning single-use plastics aren’t the most important things to them.

Although the buzz of excitement on the way back from dinner made it seem like we could have stayed up for hours we were all exhausted and fell asleep as soon as we made it back from the briefing and up to our rooms.

We were told at the airport before we left that every day would get more and more hectic. I think it is important to acknowledge that Colin never lied in saying this because somehow the third day DID manage to get even busier than the last. We visited Patom Organic Living, Tetrapak, Fiber Pattana recycling plant, attended a cooking class and presentations from both Local Alike and Good Travel.

Day four started off with a visit to the CP Group and PIM (Panyapiwat Institute of Management) CP Group is one of Thailand's largest private companies. The group is one of the world's most powerful conglomerates and it was impressive to hear about the scale and success of the group.

This was followed by a trip to True Digital Park where we were toured around their new space filled with innovative businesses, lots of artificial intelligence and large co-working spaces. This was one of my favourite visits from the whole trip as it was inspiring to see such a community within a building, the energy within the space was amazing and I could really see myself joining as a member if only it wasn’t on the other side of the world.

Back at the hotel, we were met by the Thai students for another Thai language lesson and afterward, the night was topped off with a dinner in a cute vegan café and our first of three trips to a Thai market.

We always wondered if the trip would slow down. Surely it couldn’t stay as busy the whole way through. But it did!

Day five was just as impressive with talks from Lexicon about the power of storytelling, Claudia Anghel about taking opportunities and building a personal brand, Kai NZ about their challenges and experiences within different industries in the Thai market and SCG about their “eco” labels and what they are doing as a company to make things more sustainable.

The night was filled with a visit to Hubba, a business aimed at growing startups within Thailand. Here we met the Thai students again and prepped for our business challenge the next day. After planning and a lot of discussion with the founders of Hubba, we spent the rest of our evening at the second market of the trip, which was a lot more packed, hectic and busy.

Overall the trip was perfect. I learned so much: my knowledge of Thailand business practices has grown immensely, and I feel as though I am much more confident in my understanding of both Thai culture and the sustainability within the country.

It was also incredible to meet other likeminded people who are just as passionate about business and what they are doing. After spending the week with everyone it is safe to say that the imposter syndrome disappeared, and we ended up leaving as one big supportive team. The connections I made with the other students attending the trip, the chaperones that supported us throughout the trip, and the businesses and people we met in Thailand are relationships that I will treasure and continue to build on in the future.

All in all, the trip will be something I talk about for years to come. I am so grateful for both SEA CAPE and YES for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to increase my knowledge through this once in a lifetime trip. At the beginning of the year I never dreamed of anything like this and I can truly say it was a life-changing experience. I hope that this reflection has expressed just how interesting, educational and transformative the trip was. It was such an unbelievable experience and I hope that any YES students reading this will apply for any and every opportunity that is offered to them because you never know where Young Enterprise could take you.

Thank you again to everyone who made this trip possible for me and everyone involved.

Louis Gaffaney
Louis Gaffaney
St Johns College (Hastings)

On the first day of business we had a short tour of Bangkok, soaking in the city life. My first impressions that it was a humid, smoggy and smelly, a dirty place to live. And that's true. However, that's only what the tourists see.

In reality, I have learned that Bangkok is a bustling hub of innovation, and creative solutions; continually adapting to political change (of which many countries would describe as instability) and external instabilities such as the anti-globalisation trend. 

BizVenture2019 has been an experience unlike any other. The range of cultural and business experiences have fostered a greater understanding and appreciation of the Thai economy. With sustainability at the heart of our discussions it was interesting to learn how these values were integrated into existing business models. The three pillars of sustainability are: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. 

There are a number of notable businesses and cultural activities which support at least one of the three pillars. 

Goodtravel was one. They provided planned trips, to sometimes exotic places, around the world with social, environmental and economic sustainability as a focus. To be environmentally sustainable Goodtravel intentionally selects the most environmentally sustainable accommodation available (while balancing this with finances), such as on BizVenture2019, we stayed at the ‘Narai hotel’. For example, all water was bottled in reusable glass bottles. Their Social sustainability focus was visiting communities which are developing or from developing countries. The travellers will work with the communities and good travel will donate funds or resources to further those community’s development. Economic sustainability; keeping all their activities will local providers. I was very impressed by Goodtravel as these goals were clear and solidified in their business model. It is these clear values which I believe every New Zealand business should then revolve their business models around as well as my own.

Another business we connected with that has sustainability at the centre of its considerations is Patom Organic Living. Patom fulfil the environmental pillar by working with farmers to remove chemicals from their practices, resulting in a chain of positive flow-on’s such as increased revenue for farmers, reduced costs of production, and better consumer and farmer health. They work to build more direct supply chains between farmers and hotels in an attempt to cut out the middleman who would otherwise take the majority of the profits; demonstrating both social and economic sustainability. With NZ’s horticultural industry being a central part of our economy, we could take some of these practices and apply them to ourselves, in line with New Zealand’s 100% pure campaign.  

Despite Thailand's continual change to a more sustainable economy, there often only incentive to do so if it provides a positive economic return. For example, SCG claims to be developing their business into a more environmentally sustainable model. However, it appears to be in the interests of reducing their costs of production. They have created their own label to certify that their products meet a curtain environmental standard and are producing reusable bags out if their cement bags. Questions must be asked. Is the environmental label a PR stunt? After all, they are verifying themselves. Why don’t they store the cement is larger bags or paper bags to reduce their environmental footprint? However, due to their repurposed cement bags selling so successfully why would they want to produce less? After all, it’s making them good money. As consumers we must be aware and critical of companies who claim to be environmentally sustainable. We must attempt to be aware of the green washing that entices us to use a curtain product. 

During our time in Thailand we visited the Thai New Zealand embassy. We discussed New Zealand’s

Trade relations with Thailand as well as the complex politics around pressuring another government to

do something differently. While we were there, we spoke to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and they detailed to us how through them New Zealand Businesses can get a foot in the door into a Thai market. 

Working with the students from Shrewsbury International school was a pleasure. They provided immense support to the group in regard to our language skills and communication, a deeper understanding of business in Thailand through their own personal connections and their own behaviours towards Thai goods and services. These factors helped each group develop a comprehensive presentation discussing how sustainability would apply to our own businesses if they were operating in Thailand.  

The connections I have built in Thailand have been phenomenal. Just a few are, the directors of Hubba (a start up co-working space), The CEO of Patom Organic Living, Shelley Bragg from Good travel, and students and teachers from Shrewsbury International School.

BizVenture2019 has been my most condensed period of education ever on two main topics that I am passionate about, sustainability and business. I have vastly expanded my understanding of what it means to be sustainable business, overseas market opportunities and barriers, and I have built lasting connections. I will be able to take back these learning to my own business ‘Te Tuitui Matauranga’, producing drought seeds, which will shape our direction and vision, as well as a re-evaluation of our future goals and values. 

TMIP 2019

Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore 

Alexis Allen
Alexis Allen
Victoria University of Wellington: Bachelor of Science

I applied for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme to gain hands on experience in Southeast Asia both in regards to business and culture. I had never visited any part of Asia before and so this was a really exciting opportunity for me. I learnt about the how markets operate in three countries that are at three very different stages of development. We met a range of exciting businesses who passed on amazing insights about the markets they were involved in. Since taking part in this programme, I definitely place a lot more emphasis on the importance of Southeast Asia for New Zealand. There are so many opportunities for Kiwi businesses to immerse themselves in the region.

Erin Bowers
Erin Bowers
Auckland University of Technology, Bachelor of Arts

As someone who has studied Japan and North Asia for 8 years, Southeast Asia has always been the sister side of the continent I never got to know properly. Since taking part in this trip, I feel I have grown as a learner, as an entrepreneur and as a person, and not to mention I have made some incredible memories!

This trip helped me discover how dynamic, fast paced and captivating this area of the world is and showed me how we as New Zealanders can be part of it. We got to see the good and the bad, the fun and the not so fun, the easy and the hard parts of doing business in Southeast Asia as well as getting to experience the unique culture and lifestyle there.

It really is an experience of a lifetime and I recommend anyone who has an interest in Southeast Asia to try out for this programme. I will definitely be going back to Southeast Asia in the future to work or travel as this experience has made it a place I won't forget.

Ella Boyd
Ella Boyd
University of Otago: Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Science

Having travelled to China before on a similar business program, I applied for the Tertiary Market Immersion Program to immerse myself in local life and compare what I had learnt about doing business in China to the business cultures of Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.

Throughout the trip, we were lucky enough to attend talks by many different businesses including PWC, Heineken and NZTE. These talks, combined with the insights that came from travelling with such a diverse group of people, gave me a new perspective of South East Asia and helped me to better understand why the components required for a business to successfully enter the Vietnam, Thailand or Singapore markets, are so different from those needed in New Zealand.

TMIP taught me a lot about the politics, culture and business environments of each of the different countries we visited and I hope to continue learning about doing business in Asia during my final year at Otago.

I now intend to intern or work in South East Asia in the future, something I would never have considered before the program.

Matthew Brunt
Matthew Brunt
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Commerce

My first experience in Southeast Asia was visiting Vietnam on a family holiday last year. Although I loved being in a place so different from New Zealand I didn’t fully appreciate the culture beyond being a tourist. In my application for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme, I said how I was keen to engage with the culture on a deeper level. The programme allowed me to immerse myself in Southeast Asian life and talk face to face with local business owners and students. I found the political and cultural differences between each of the countries we visited fascinating. Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore are all such beautiful countries with incredible histories. Visiting government agencies in each of the three nations allowed us to ask questions and see how each state is developing individually, an opportunity you simply wouldn’t get as a tourist. I particularly loved meeting and engaging with local students in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. Sometimes the world can feel like a massive place, but getting to know students in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore it was fantastic to feel like part of their friendship group. The business focus of the trip was fantastic, and I have taken so much away from the experience that I am keen to employ in my study and future workplaces. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity we as a group were provided with by the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia Pacific Excellence.

Zoe Hunt
Zoe Hunt
Otago Polytechnic: Bachelor of Occupational Therapy

Learning about the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Southeast Asia was really rewarding. I learnt so much about political, social, cultural and economic issues that impact on doing business in the region. As a healthcare student, I was intrigued to learn more about the opportunities to develop healthcare in Southeast Asia and how New Zealand can facilitate positive change in these countries.

Since going on the TMIP programme, I am so much more confident to talk about Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore and explain what I learnt and gained from this experience. Travelling with the group was a rewarding and amazing experience as each individual brought different perspectives, interests and future goals. Each person taught me different things and facilitated the learning experience in Southeast Asia.

The programme has inspired me to take action in the future and start my own social enterprise or business, which I would love to extend into the Southeast Asian market. I am now considering what other papers I could take to further my understanding of business and international relations to help me get this business off the ground.

Laurie Ingle
Laurie Ingle
Victoria University of Wellington: Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Commerce

Technology is amazing. When you look around the streets of Hanoi it’s easy to see lots of people on their smartphones. They could be hailing a ride with Grab, buying shoes on Lazada or playing VNG’s new game: Cube Skyland. In all cases, technology is being used to connect people and add value to their lives. The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme taught me that you can’t truly understand a market without visiting it. You can read statistics about how many people live in Ho Chi Minh City, but it doesn’t have meaning until you’re stuck in the middle of the road, unable to cross, because of (supposedly) nearly 7.4 million motorbikes and scooters on the roads. Visiting a new place gives you an appreciation of what’s different and new about it when you compare it to other parts of the world you’ve been to.

Southeast Asia is becoming a hub for technology. One of my favourite visits was to the Eastern Economic Corridor in Thailand. We were introduced to Thailand 4.0, which is Thailand’s economic model for growth. It focuses on security, wealth and sustainability. Part of this involves a focus on technology, including the development of smart cities which use data and technology to create efficiencies, improve sustainability and create economic development for those who live within them. Need to find a parking space in a smart city? Your phone will guide you. How much energy is your house using? Check the app. It sounds futuristic. Will smart cities give rise to social issues? How will data privacy work? Can we ever go back? Who knows! All good questions. Regardless, there’s something exciting about technological development and seeing just how much we can reinvent and refine everyday life.

TMIP has opened my eyes to new areas and made me eager to learn more about Southeast Asia in the future. It showed me the potential of the region and I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Charlotte Keir
Charlotte Keir
University of Canterbury: Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts

After living in Thailand for a year, I was really interested in exploring Southeast Asia to discover what opportunities are available for New Zealanders in the region. When I was told about TMIP, I was initially hesitant to apply as I thought SEA CAPE wouldn't be interested in what a Law and Arts student had to offer. But I was happy to discover that our team studied a wide range of subjects. This gave us a greater range of knowledge and meant I learnt not only about business, but also the many subjects of the group.

For three weeks, we had the incredible experience of travelling through Southeast Asia, learning about some amazing businesses and meeting some really cool people. I was immersed in the business culture of each country and was inspired by the stories of Kiwis who had bravely gone into the unknown.

Southeast Asia is an exciting, dynamic place and I can't wait to return. Overall, the trip was a valuable experience and I would recommend any tertiary student to apply. As a non-business student, I learnt so much about New Zealand entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia and the distinct business culture of each country. The trip has broadened my horizons and I look forward to returning to this part of the world soon. A big thank you to SEA CAPE for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Emma Kerr
Emma Kerr
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Commerce

Having never been to Southeast Asia, I saw the SEA CAPE Tertiary Market Immersion Programme as a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of the region. I was honoured to be part of the programme and be able to learn so much more than would be possible from afar. It was an eye-opening experience and ignited in me a greater passion for the region. I returned to New Zealand with so much energy and excitement for the opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Over the course of 18 days, we had an intensive schedule visiting various companies, NZTE and MFAT offices, and local universities. It was fascinating to see first-hand the different levels of development in each of the three countries and hear accounts from locals and kiwi expats about their experiences. We were fortunate to learn about the unique business opportunities and challenges in Vietnam, visiting both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Vietnam were evident. In Thailand, we learnt of the country’s plans to overcome the middle-income trap and move towards a value-based economy through the Thailand 4.0 vision. Singapore’s order and infrastructure were a stark contrast to the chaotic scooter-filled streets of Vietnam.

It was great to build an understanding of the unique political, social and businesses environments in each country while also working in teams to consolidate our learning and pitch new business ideas to judges. The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme showed me how it is crucial for young people to build knowledge and awareness of the Southeast Asia region. It is essential to understand the nuances of the business environment there and develop long-term business relationships with a strong foundation of trust. There are so many opportunities in Southeast Asia for entrepreneurs and businesses as well as in the public sector. It is a fascinating time to be learning about, and exploring, the region.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Laws

When I first heard about SEA CAPE’s Tertiary Market Immersion Programme it seemed too good to be real. The opportunity to learn about new cultures and foreign business environments with enthralled me. I had visited Singapore for a couple of days in high school but never really connected or had a deep engagement with Southeast Asia before. Taking part in TMIP has helped me to make new friends and forge new connections in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. I feel optimistic about future business opportunities in Southeast Asia that I could pursue in the future. I will be continuing my engagement with the region through university studies and hopefully again in real life in the near future.

Kathlynn Lee
Kathlynn Lee
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Commerce

Identifying with both Southeast Asian and Kiwi culture as well as a desire to learn more about the business opportunities in Southeast Asia motivated me to apply for the programme. I wanted to apply the business knowledge I have learnt at university in a different cultural context.

In Vietnam I was inspired by consumer insights and trends towards ‘ultra-convenience’ and how it has changed not only the world of e-commerce but also how real-life and online communities engage with each other. In Bangkok I learnt about Thailand’s efforts to escape the middle-income trap despite social and political challenges. Lastly, I saw Singapore in a new and unexpected light. I learnt how it became to be so modern and developed, and how savvy urban planning has transformed the city.

I’ve often been told that entrepreneurship is something one cannot learn; that some of us are simply born as risk takers or are just "lucky". I've spent the last three years challenging this idea. The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme is no exception. It taught me to view challenges as opportunities, question assumptions, and validate ideas in person. Overall, the cultural and business immersion I experienced over those 18 days has shed a light on how I want to develop both personally and professionally. I definitely want to engage more with Southeast Asia by continuing to challenge my assumptions about how trade, economics, politics, and culture intersect in the region and how New Zealand businesses can engage with those opportunities.

Naomi Pepah
Naomi Pepah
Massey University: Bachelor of Communication

As an Indonesian living in New Zealand, I embarked on the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme with a ‘been there, done that’ attitude towards Southeast Asia. Little did I know that the programme would allow me to see the region from a completely different perspective. I learned so much about how business is conducted in Southeast Asia not only from the locals, but also from Kiwis making their mark abroad. The trip taught me that there are so many opportunities out there that we can tap into. Since taking part in the programme, I feel better-equipped to contribute my knowledge about doing business in Southeast Asia to my working environment.

William Robertson
William Robertson
Massey University: Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce

Having no ties to Asia, I applied for the TMIP so that I could learn why everyone seems so excited about the development of Asia. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people and experience Southeast Asian culture hands on. I had high expectations coming into the programme, expectations that were surpassed within the first few days.

It felt surreal it be 60 stories high, listening to a representative of $45 billion business (The Heineken Company) whilst representing your country in an immersion programme. Nothing to be forgotten any time soon. Having been constantly reminded of New Zealand’s geographic isolation and small population, I hadn’t given much thought to New Zealand’s role in the world. South East Asia, where city populations are larger than our country’s population, is a stark reminder of the size of our world and the dynamism of business. During the programme, the business talks were incredible. Seeing how the business environment differs from the New Zealand environment and how businesses operate in response was fascinating and emphasised the influence of culture.

Since finishing the programme and returning to university, I constantly compare and contrast New Zealand with Southeast Asia. TMIP has given me a greater understanding of our strengths, weaknesses and the need to trade; as well as showing me the importance of building strong international relationships. I plan to continue learning about Asia and hope to spend some time working there in the future – something I would never have considered before the programme.

Iona Sammons
Iona Sammons
Victoria University of Wellington: Bachelor of Commerce

Travel was my initial motivation to apply for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme, however I ended up getting so much more out of the experience. Prior to being accepted in the programme, it felt like these kinds of opportunities only happen to other people! TMIP helped to push that barrier.

While in Southeast Asia, I especially loved hearing from New Zealand businesses who'd built themselves up in NZ and are now making it big overseas. It's one thing to be told something and accepting it as true, but it's another to personally experience it first-hand.

I plan to keep in touch with the organisations we met with on the trip and also hope to increase my involvement with some of them in the future.

Nina Santos
Nina Santos
University of Auckland: Conjoint Bachelor of Laws & Arts

I was born and raised in the Philippines, a Southeast Asian Country. But before TMIP, I wasn’t really SEA savvy, per se. Southeast Asia is an emerging force that presents endless opportunities, and I feel like learning about it is underrated.

I applied for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme wanting to challenge my assumptions and expand my knowledge not only about the market, but also about the rich culture, politics and history. TMIP made this possible -- it was engaging, immersive and underlined the need to learn more about beyond economic returns. Apart from analysing business environments, the trip also opened my eyes to the struggles of marginalised communities within SEA, and the growing social inequalities across Asia resulting from globalisation. It was inspiring and motivating to see how businesses are addressing these issues, but I also realised how much work needs to be done in developing appropriate policy to deal with to trade and taxation, education, skills development and migration.

It IS the Asian Century, and Asia-relevant capabilities are more important now than ever. Thanks to SEA CAPE for the fabulous opportunity to enhance my passion and knowledge about SEA.

Kajol Thanki
Kajol Thanki
University of Waikato: Conjoint Bachelor of Laws and Management Studies

I applied for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme 2019 as I have always been curious about Southeast Asia’s growing significance as a region to New Zealand. The experience I gained on the Programme was invaluable as I was able to appreciate first-hand how the differences in each country’s history and political structure have impacted upon its current economic development, society and business practices.

For instance, in Vietnam, we learnt about the country’s strong growth rate, the importance of building trust in the local market and conducting adequate research prior to market entry. In Thailand, we spoke with many enterprises who are using entrepreneurship as a tool to address the country’s social issues like deforestation and the need for ethical tourism. Finally, in Singapore, we learnt exactly what factors have led the country to rise above its Southeast Asian counterparts and become such a successful financial hub. We also had the opportunity to hear about the journeys of professionals working for tech giants like Facebook and other successful start-ups.

Being able to learn from and network with ambitious entrepreneurs from these vibrant regions was inspiring. As a future business graduate, I am now highly interested in pursuing work experience and secondment opportunities in Southeast Asia – something I had not considered prior to the Programme. I also see myself continuing to upon build my knowledge of and networks within Southeast Asia in order to help New Zealand businesses who want to expand into the region.

Walter Todd
Walter Todd
Victoria University of Wellington: Bachelor of Commerce

The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme 2019, was an excellent all-round business experience. My eyes have been opened to a world of opportunities in South East Asia and I constantly find myself referring to my newly acquired knowledge after the experience.

I think the programme is something that more New Zealand students should apply for. The programme gave me the opportunity to create new connections in the business world across Vietnamese, Thai and Singaporean markets.

Understanding Southeast Asia 2018

Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

Chantal Hoeft
Chantal Hoeft
LLB/BA Major in Communication - The University of Auckland

The main thing I hoped to achieve during the Study Tour was to learn how people from Southeast Asia define 'normal' and to immerse myself in their daily lives. This was absolutely achieved and I gained real insight into how people from the region view the world and feel about important issues. 

We were able to work with local students throughout the Study Tour and every interaction provided the best opportunity for being immersed in the culture. In particular, we spent an evening with students in Hanoi, Vietnam. They took us to their favourite food places and local hangouts anwe really felt part of their friendship group. 

The Mekong Institute in Khon Kaen, Thailand, was a great place for learning, and I felt like we heard from the best authorities on the topics that were presented. It was also great going to the Fisher and Paykel factory to see it in action, especially with the Kiwi links. 

The focus of Myanmar was more about their recent history and current struggles as opposed to the business environment, and was one of my favourite countries on the trip. wouldn't have changed a thing. 

Since the Study Tour, I am more confident to talk about Southeast Asia and am able to educate others on what I learned. The Study Tour made me realise just how vital it is to have international knowledge of the Southeast Asia region – our economy underpins a lot of policy decisions made and impacts everyone in New Zealand. I'm now looking into taking some economics papers at university, to better my understanding of how it all works and build upon my experience in the region. 

Charlie Barker
Charlie Barker
LLB/BCom, Major Accounting & Information Systems - The University of Auckland

My first experience in Southeast Asia was as a teen, travelling through Thailand and Singapore. Although I wasn't initially engaged beyond being a tourist, I've always known that I am stimulated by new cultures, countries and people, and was eager to return to the region. 

In my application essay for the Study Tour, I wrote about wanting to further my engagement with the region, and gain an understanding that went deeper than just a 'face value' experience with a country. The Study Tour certainly met my expectations and provided the opportunity for me to fully engage with the concepts that were being talked about, and the cultures we were immersed in. I recently took a paper on Public Law, which improved my ability to analyse issues in different ways, and this had a major impact on my experience throughout the Study Tour.  

In Thailand, I was able to better understand the political situation. We attended sessions by some truly incredible speakers, who helped me make sense of my own observations of the country. Likewise, the day of talks at the New Zealand High Commission in Singapore were great in explaining why Singapore is so modern and developed. And the speakers in Ho Chi Minh City offered interesting insights. I enjoyed the fact that the speakers talked a lot about Vietnam as a consumer market, and the various business opportunities that exist there for New Zealanders, especially in education. 

 I also wrote in my application about wanting greater business competency of the Southeast Asia region, and I subsequently left each country knowing far more about its trade, economic, social, cultural and political dimensions than I could have imagined. And while I definitely now know more about doing business in the region, it has also shown me how much I don't know! But this is a good thing – I realise this and have some fantastic opportunities to further broaden my understanding, including proactively working towards a career where I can make a meaningful difference and build on this incredible Study Tour experience. 

Now, I see Southeast Asia as a certain part of my future, and I'm equipped to engage as more than just a tourist. 

Lina Kim
Lina Kim
BA/LLB, Major in Politics/IR & Art History - The University of Auckland

I applied for the Study Tour with a desire to ultimately find my cultural identity and pathway in life as a Korean-Kiwi. I'd previously taken university papers about Southeast Asia, but they were generally focused on the past and did not reflect the modern, booming Asia that I witnessed on the Study Tour. 

I experienced first-hand the economic, trade and foreign affair ties that New Zealand has with Southeast Asia.  Seeing New Zealand's foreign aid programmes implemented in Indonesia showed just how much behind the scenes work takes place with one of our largest, strongest economic partners. I was blown away by the economic potential of Vietnam as the fastest growing economy in the world - I could literally feel the energy of the businesses and start ups. I was also fascinated about the political situation in Myanmar and the commentary from the various speakers; reporters who were sent to prison for freedom of speech. All these encounters provided me with a true appreciation of the beauty of the rich, diverse cultures of the countries we visited. 

I returned to New Zealand with a new-found passion for Asia, and a sense of pride that I identify as a Kiwi-Asian. This is because it gave me awareness and confidence of the successes, the work ethic, and the culture of Asia, especially after seeing the development of places like Singapore and Jakarta.  

Most importantly, the Study Tour helped me consolidate and embrace my cultural identity and has given me the drive to pursue politics in New Zealand as a Korean-Kiwi. It’s opened my pathways in terms of reaching out to Asia for future career options, and has given me a sense of duty to advocate New Zealand's relations with the Asia-Pacific. 

Lucy Blakiston
Lucy Blakiston
BA, International Relations/Media Studies - Victoria University of Wellington

Prior to the Understanding Southeast Asia Study Tour, I had been to Vietnam as a tourist but had no prior knowledge of the political system, media freedom or economy. This Study Tour was a truly unique learning experience that expanded my knowledge well beyond Vietnam and piqued my interest in a number of areas that have continued to impact me. 

One of the most engaging aspects of the Study Tour was our interaction with local students. They spent time with us outside of the lectures and presentations and immersed us in their cultures. I was inspired by their guidance and eagerness to share their local knowledge, and since returning to New Zealand I have registered as an International Buddy at my university. I’m partnered with students from Egypt and Singapore, eager to display the same inclusion and hospitality that the Southeast Asian students showed our group. 

On an academic level, I've started a university paper on Southeast Asian Politics to gain an even deeper understanding of the topics we discussed during the Study Tour. I’ve also applied for internship opportunities in Southeast Asia. As an international relations student, I gained an appreciation of Southeast Asia and the incredible opportunities that exist for us Kiwis, and am also interested in taking my MasterProgramme overseas – something I hadn’t previously considered. now understand the value and relevance to my career, and know that my future will be set in Southeast Asia. 

Yohann Irani
Yohann Irani
Bachelor of Engineering (hons.) Mechanical - University of Waikato

I applied for the Understanding Southeast Asia Study Tour eager to gain a new perspective of the region, since I had only previously travelled as a tourist. 

This Study Tour provided both cultural and business knowledge of each of the six countries, and I was especially surprised by the joint-venture and start up opportunities in the Vietnam market. 

I also learned about different ways to look at things and people. Our Study Tour Leaders, Prof Malcolm McKinnon and Jane Gunn-Lewis, helped us to analyse our ever-changing environments and consider cultural differences and similarities in every possible instance. 

As an future engineer, I want to give back to New Zealand by providing more sustainable, profitable, and life-improving products. After hearing first-hand from experts in business and academics, engaging with local students, and completing the written assignments during the Study Tour, I returned home equipped with a new-found interest in the region.  

I plan to stay connected to Southeast Asia and the connections I’ve made, as I now see it as a potential place to start a business after graduating, due to the opportunities that I learned about through the Study Tour. 

Using my knowledge of the Southeast Asian region, I want to help other New Zealanders succeed in their business ventures in any way possible, as this Study Tour was truly a life-changing experience for me and I want others to gain that same inspiration and motivation. 

Olivia Gray
Olivia Gray
Bachelor of Science - Human Nutrition - University of Otago

I first visited Vietnam on a school History trip when I was in Year 13. It was an education-focused trip, but the Understanding Southeast Asia Study Tour this year involved a more intensive business and academic focus, which I was thankful for.  

I gained a much deeper understanding of Vietnam during the Study Tour because of the variety and quality of the lectures we attended. I had never appreciated the extent and the impact of the Vietnam war, and still have so much to learn. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities we had to engage with other university students and ask them about their lives and their opinions of Vietnam.  

Other memorable moments on the Study Tour included a presentation about ethnic minority groups in Khon Kaen, the Beau Bakery Skype talk in Jakarta, and also hearing different perspectives of Myanmar from speakers such as Ko Ko Gyi. I also enjoyed hearing the New Zealand Ambassador's perspective. 

I will bring the knowledge I gained of Southeast Asia business and culture to my future workplaces so that we can work better together in instances such as problem solving, team work and communication. Because of the depth and focus of the Study Tour, I am now better equipped to engage with the region and take an empathetic approach to understand why other cultures might approach a situation very differently from a New Zealander. 

Because of the Study Tour, I plan to return to Southeast Asia in the near future, and hope to secure an internship to further my understanding of the region.

Codi Merito
Codi Merito
Bachelor of Commerce, Major Economics & Agribusiness - University of Waikato

The SEA CAPE Study Tour showed me first-hand how the six countries operate and how their societies function. 

One of my favourite aspects of the Study Tour was meeting local student and seeing the many similarities and differences between our upbringings, but realising that we can all relate to one another despite different languages and cultures 

Our Study Tour Leaders, Prof Malcolm McKinnon and Jane Gunn-Lewis, had us question everything around us, which has changed my way of thinking forever. They created a sense of curiosity within us whilst we traveled and ensured that we were constantly learningThe study tour also opened my eyes to the many opportunities in the Southeast Asia region. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the United Nations, our Embassies and many individual kiwi businesses doing amazing things are opportunities that I was previously unaware of but am now aspiring to pursue. 

Since returning home to New Zealand, I have shared stories of my trip with friends and family. I love making others aware of unique opportunities and seeing how we, as the youth of New Zealand, can use our skills to make a mark on the world. I cannot wait to return to Southeast Asia, and also look forward to seeing many of the international students from the region in New Zealand one day. I feel that we can strengthen our relationships to find opportunities that better both ourselves and our countries.

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