Entrepreneurship students' video wins trip to South Africa

Four new Krannert grads who love to travel recently visited their fourth continent in a year thanks to their winning video entry showcasing diversity and unity.

GEP Students

In addition to their recent trip to South Africa, 2014 GEP graduates Jinny Oh, Uzma Azami (seated), Fanny Aizier and Helga Quijano (standing) studied in France and China before completing their final semester at Purdue's West Lafayette campus. (Photo provided)

Jinny Oh, Uzma Azami, Fanny Aizier and Helga Quijano, who came from four different countries to earn an MS degree in global entrepreneurship from Purdue’s Krannert School, created a video about freedom for the #DiversePeopleUnited contest and won an all-expenses paid, weeklong trip to South Africa.

Oh, a Korean-born Canadian citizen most recently from North Carolina, heard about the competition celebrating South Africa’s 20 years of freedom. She asked her three then-classmates to join her in making a video. “We filmed it on Monday, edited it on Tuesday and found out we won on Friday.”

“Barely any of the videos had diversity,” says Azami, who was born and raised in Dubai but has also called India home.

“We brainstormed and had thousands of ideas,” says Quijano, who is from Colombia. “Just by being ourselves, we had a story,” adds Aizier, a native of France.

They incorporated a quote from Nelson Mandela, African music and the South African flag, but in the end, each brought unique talents and perspectives to the video, which made it stand out. “The way we are portrayed in the video is exactly how we are in real life,” says Azami.

In addition to a love of travel, the women also share a love of entrepreneurship. As part of the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP), they spent the past fall semester in France at EMLYON Business School. During spring semester they studied in China at Zhejiang University before completing the program with a summer semester at Purdue.

Oh chose the master’s program based on the appeal of traveling to different countries. She records her experiences in a travel blog (www.jinnygatchi.com) and is working on her own startup — a personal finance management and data aggregating company. She also is developing a mobile app for digital receipts and a website to connect entrepreneurs.

Azami liked the idea of learning on three different continents as well as the opportunity to study at Purdue. “The American semester was my highlight. It was a dream to come to the U.S. and study,” she says. With an interest in fashion, she did the styling for the video and now is working on an e-commerce website and a mobile app. “I want to bring the concept of fashion websites that exists here in the U.S. to Dubai,” she says.

Aizier has a background in IT and launched two small businesses while continuing to work a full-time job before coming to Purdue. “I loved the startup experience. I really wanted to make it my career, so I quit my job and decided to earn my degree from Krannert through GEP,” she says. She is currently working on a mobile app and an e-commerce store.

Quijano was trained as an industrial engineer and worked in the banking industry for several years. “When I was working in the bank, I was in touch with a lot of micro- and medium-sized companies,” she says. “They inspired me. I realized I wanted to do something by myself.” Quijano is working on a mobile app and a social entrepreneurship project to integrate sustainable urban agriculture with low-income housing.

The women celebrated their graduation in August with the trip to South Africa, where they visited Johannesburg and Cape Town. Fellow Purdue student Pierre Riviere helped film the students’ winning entry for the contest, which was sponsored by South African Airways and Trevolta and can viewed at the Diverse People Unite (www.trevolta.com/DiversePeopleUnite) website.