From January 8th - 25th, 16 tertiary students from across New Zealand participated in the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme (TMIP). Led by SEACAPE staff, the students visited Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore to learn about doing business in Southeast Asia and the opportunities and challenges that the region presents.
Throughout the programme, students worked in teams to develop a business idea for a New Zealand company or entrepreneur wanting to enter the Southeast Asia market. Each group focused on a different industry: food and beverage, e-commerce, SME innovation and entrepreneurship, and social enterprise, and presented their idea in Singapore at the end of the programme.
In Vietnam, the students were amazed by the richness of the culture, the resilience of the people and the dynamism of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They learned about Vietnam’s rapidly growing and entrepreneurial business culture through their interactions with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), several global businesses, and Vietnam’s first unicorn – VNG to name a few. The group also had a lively exchange with local students at the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City before rounding off their visit at the New Zealand Embassy in Hanoi.
Contrasts started to become apparent as the group arrived in Thailand for the second leg of the programme. At the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) head office in Bangkok they learned about Thailand 4.0 and the Thai government’s vision for economic growth through infrastructure development, trade and investment hubs, innovation parks and creating liveable smart cities. The group met with SEACAPE’s ASEAN@50 Fellows, Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak and Dr Pavida Pananond, at Chulalongkorn University where they learned about the political and economic environment in Thailand as well as the challenges to the economic upgrading of the country. In a day-long session at Hubba co-working space, the local NZTE office briefed the participants on the Thailand Market and arranged an excellent line-up of speakers for the students with a strong focus on social entrepreneurship and innovation.
Singapore marked the final leg of the programme and saw the group come together with Young Enterprise students participating in SEACAPE’s Business Challenge programme. Highlights in the ‘Lion City’ included meeting NZ High Commissioner, Dr Jonathan Austin, and NZTE’s East Asia Regional Director, Clare Wilson at the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, visiting Facebook's AsiaPac HQ, hearing from Singapore-based Kiwi entrepreneurs, and using a co-working space to work on their business pitches. A visit to Singapore Management University allowed the students to hear an academic perspective on Singapore’s development.
On presentation day at ANZ’s Singapore office, each of the four groups pitched their business idea to an audience including a panel of judges, the Business Challenge participants, and a number of invited guests. Their ideas covered cold chain logistics in Vietnam, the social enterprise landscape in Southeast Asia, an environmental management app and advisory service, and a pitch to develop the coffee industry in Thailand.
Meet our students
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.