Sustainable tea made from banana stems earns student entrepreneurs chance to study abroad at ASU

Three students standing in front of a competition judge sitting at a table.

The winning team of students from Universitas Esa Unggul present their startup idea to a panel of expert judges during the ASU-Cintana Alliance International Student Competition. Photo courtesy Global Academic Initiatives/ASU


This spring, students from Universitas Esa Unggul in Indonesia won the first-ever ASU-Cintana Alliance International Student Competition, earning a scholarship to study abroad at Arizona State University this summer. 

Hosted by Cintana Education, Universitas Esa Unggul and the NorthCap University in New Delhi, India, the weeklong competition invited teams of university student entrepreneurs to develop a startup idea providing real-world solutions to any of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. At the end of the week, each team presented their idea to a panel of expert judges, including Cintana Education president Rick Shangraw and Indian venture capitalists. The competition included students currently enrolled in universities partnered with Arizona State University and Cintana Education.

Participants also attended four industry master-class sessions about entrepreneurship, gained firsthand experience at local industrial innovation hubs and explored local historical sites, including the Taj Mahal in Agra.

“It was a wonderful experience to be able to participate in the workshop and the competition,” said Muhammad Dhafi Iskandar, who mentored one of the teams. “We are eager to see what’s next for all the participants.”

The winning start-up idea went to students from Universitas Esa Unggul in Jakarta, Indonesia, who created “PePiPow,” a healthy tea beverage made from banana stems marketed to consumers in their 20s. The product aimed to reduce food waste and improve economic conditions for banana farmers.

Other participating teams came from Mapúa University in the Philippines, the NorthCap University in India and the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro. Lorenzo Rosania from Universidad Internacional del Ecuador won the Young Achiever Award for outstanding presenter.

“It was amazing to be able to interact with students who have professional knowledge in so many different subjects,” Rosania said. “Being able to work, prepare a project and present with university students really helped me broaden my opinions and perspectives. Being able to share knowledge and experience with others from different countries was really wonderful.”

Each member of the winning team earned a scholarship to attend the second-annual ASU-Cintana Experience on campus at ASU this summer. The two-week experience, hosted by ASU Global Launch, provides a full campus immersion experience, including classes, lectures and other student experiences aimed toward finding sustainable and innovative solutions to global challenges.

“The ASU-Cintana Summer Experience helps students learn more about sustainability and innovation and develop skills that global employers have identified as critical, such as problem solving, teamwork, time management and resilience," said Dianna Lippincott, associate director of Global Launch. "Students in the summer experience will also develop their English skills, refine their business pitches and create global connections with other like-minded students. We are excited to welcome the winning student team from Universitas Esa Unggul and believe they will be an incredible asset to the program.” 

“Sustainable and innovative solutions are important not only to our planet, but also to us individually who live on this planet (and) who need more creative solutions on how to address climate change, sustainable economic issues, sustainable cultural issues and environmental issues that are pervasive across the globe,” Shangraw said. “We hope that competitions and initiatives like this continue to inspire the innovation needed to change the world for generations to come."

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