Recently, at the FedEx Express/Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge 2010 (ITC 2010) regional finals in Singapore, a pair of Thai students took first prize with their unique "vuvuseika".
Natnaree Krabuanrat, left, and Anchisa Pongmanavuth, the winners of the 2010 FedEx Express/Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN
Anchisa Pongmanavuth and Natnaree Krabuanrat, Mathayom 5 (Grade 11) students in Kasetsart University Laboratory School (Satit Kaset) International Programme, beat over 45 students from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which included, among others, Japan, Korea, Singapore and New Zealand.
The task set for the contestants was to come up with an innovative version of the vuvuzela for export to South Africa. The winning team's brainchild was the "vuvuseika", which will be produced in, and exported from, Thailand.
Instead of plastic, the new instrument is made from bamboo. The vuvuseika can produce sounds of different pitches, the volumes of which are adjustable, by employing a mechanism similar to that of a bamboo flute. The product is targeted at tourists and sports fans in South Africa.
"We tried to find an inexpensive, environmentally-friendly material," Natnaree said, adding that the bamboo resource is abundant in Thailand.
"We looked at the weak points of conventional plastic vuvuzelas, which produce sounds that are often considered annoying, and which can harm the environment when discarded. So, we came up with a product that corrects these drawbacks," said Anchisa, explaining the theory behind the new bamboo horn.
According to the team, the word "vuvuseika" comes from: "vuvuzela", "musiek" and "Africa". The prices of the instrument range from six to eight US dollars (190 to 250 baht) instead of the eight to 10 dollars (250 to 310 baht) charged during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
At the competition, the team had eight minutes to explain their marketing plan and two minutes to answer questions.
"Our collaboration and time management were excellent," said Anchisa, revealing the keys to their early success. The team was awarded a cash prize of $4,000 (125,000 baht), and each member received a plaque and a certificate.
The team was one of three that re-presented Thailand in ITC 2010. Concordian International School sent one team and Satit Kaset sent a second team. They came up with a smaller vuvuzela targeted at women customers and a vuvuzela silk-screened with customised patterns, respectively.
The three teams had been the winners in the Thailand division of the contest. In the domestic challenge, Anchisa and Natnaree won for their plan to export coffins made from environmentally friendly dried water-hyacinth plants.
Anchisa and Natnaree commented that the challenge has taught them the steps for initiating a marketing plan, to exercise creative thinking to differentiate a product, to master time management skills, and to work as a team.
The FedEx Express/Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge is organised by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, in collaboration with Junior Achievement. The aim of the contest is to inculcate international marketing skills in students aged between 15 and 18. The domestic contest in Thailand has been held twice. The competition brings together the business and economics contents that students learned in high school and combine them as one practical unit, said David B. Carden, managing director of FedEx Express for Thailand & Indochina.