Abigail Liverpool, a 26-year-old masters University of T&T (UTT) student has always had an interest in organic waste recycling. Liverpool, who is studying industrial innovation, entrepeneurship and management, entered and won the UTT's 4th annual UTT Business Plan Competition. The prize-giving function was held on July 15 at the UTT's O'Meara campus. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is to sponsor the competition through to 2011.
Liverpool won the $100,000 first prize for submitting a business plan for the organic recycling business, Organicycle. The competition, open to students, staff and faculty, provides an opportunity for them to conceptualise and develop innovative, socially beneficial and practical knowledge-based business ideas and plans from their research and other academic and co-curricular activities. Liverpool said she has always had an interest in the area of organic waste recycling.
"Organic waste cycling involves taking kitchen waste–food, vegetables and fruit–and you take it through a process where it is broken down and then converting it into fertilisers." Liverpool did her first degree at UWI in agribusiness management and finance and had personal experience in this field. "I produced this and used it for my home garden. I then got into this deeper by doing more research into it and, of course, my first degree at UWI is related to this area, so I developed a passion for this."
Liverpool's parents urged her to enter the competition. "I knew that there was the competition, but it was really my parents who were behind me and encouraged me to enter." The business plan was a year in the making. "There was a business concept which answers the question: What need does it meet? I had to answer the question: Would there be an interested investor, and the financial feasibility of the plan?" The judges were impressed by her entrepeneurship. "They were impressed by my flair and entrepreneurial spirit as well as the social aspect that helps the environment. Also, because of its contribution to agriculture because of the fertilisers."
Accessing the prize money
Liverpool has to follow through on the business plan to access the prize money.
According to the UTT criteria, the money will be disbursed as follows:
�2 First tranche of $25,000 is distributed when the team successfully completes within six months company registration, identifies management team and board, has first board meeting, and opens a business bank account.
�2 Second tranche of $25,000–on satisfactory completion of business plan within eight months of winning the award.
�2 Final $50,000–on completion of patent, drafting a sales contract or developing a satisfactory prototype.
She said she is well on her way in meeting these criteria.
"I have already started the registration process for the business. That is in the final stages. The management team has already been established. Of course, the bank account will only be opened once the company registration is complete." While Liverpool is optimistic about executing the business plan, she's also cautious.
"I'm optimistic, but I also know that these things are risky. Of course, there will always be challenges."