Plan Uses Trees to Grow Out of Poverty

Students Taylor Bartlett, Tommy Knapp, Gregg Sanchez and Jake Allbaugh won with their business plan Watermark

Students Taylor Bartlett, Tommy Knapp, Gregg Sanchez and Jake Allbaugh won with their business plan Watermark

A plan to end malnourishment in Haiti took top honors at the 24th annual Westmont Business Plan Competition Dec. 10. The business proposal, Watermark, focuses on using natural, locally grown resources to provide vital nutrients to the people in underdeveloped and rural countries. The plan was created and presented by students Jake Allbaugh, Taylor Bartlett, Tommy Knapp and Gregg Sanchez.

“This plan is a unique solution to malnourishment because of the sustainability it provides the local population,” the proposal states. “Instead of depending on foreign aid and handouts for consistent nutritional intake, Haitians can work for themselves to cultivate their own resources to end malnourishment in their own country.”

Their presentation detailed the nutritional benefits of the Moringa tree along with a step-by-step plan for planting, growing and harvesting the trees for their leaves. The leaves would be cleaned, pulverized, packaged and sold as a powder to supplement meals.

Other student proposals included Alpha Life Academy, which mentors, employs and educates young teenagers in the Dominican Republic through their passion for baseball; Catalyst Business Ventures, teaching Kenyans about entrepreneurship and helping them develop their own new businesses; Brick by Brick, providing high-quality, low-cost, weather resistant building material to developing communities; Nickel a Net, using simple tools and plastic bags to produce mosquito nets in the battle against malaria; One Sip, One Saved, providing a model for beverage producers to combat vitamin A deficiency; and GiftSmart, a social platform that makes it easier to donate to credible charities.

The competition was part of the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development course taught by Rick Ifland, director of the Eaton Program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Westmont. Ifland will teach a new class this spring, Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid, which will identify challenges and opportunities in serving the lowest-income markets. As part of the course, Ifland and 16 students will travel to Port-de-Paix, Haiti, during spring break to create the infrastructure to develop a new entrepreneurial product. Using micro-finance, the students seek to help Port-de-Paix entrepreneurs earn an additional $5 per day in income for themselves and their family.

Ifland will speak about the challenges and efficacy of microfinance in a free, public lecture Thursday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara St. No tickets are required; the limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call (805) 565-6051. The talk, “The Future of Microfinance and the Role of Muhammad Yunus,” is part of Westmont Downtown: Conversations about Things that Matter, which is sponsored by the Westmont Foundation.