By Tobias Belle
What happens when you bring together 19 students drawn from 12 countries, different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures and experiences to the Bavarian capital in Munich? What happens, when in the course of two weeks, these students are to learn from lecturers and speakers equally drawn from different countries, backgrounds and professions? What happens, when in that duration, the students are tasked with creating sustainable business ideas and models that can face a panel of potential investors?
Here's what happens; something magical. In those two intense weeks, greatness happens, and the true potential that we hold in transforming the world not just for the present but also for the future, is unlocked.
The 2022 International Summer School on Sustainable Entrepreneurship by the TUM School of Management, set out to explore sustainable entrepreneurship, with its triple combination of economic, social, and ecological goals, as a powerful tool for tackling grand societal challenges.
The summer school commenced on Monday July 18, 2022, with welcoming remarks from the Dean, TUM School of Management, Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl, followed by a week-long deep dive into the concepts of Sustainable Entrepreneurship by various lecturers and speakers. From Prof. Dr. Frank-Martin Belz, Dr. Aline Menden, Robin Drummond, Dr. Tillmann Lang, Florian Henle, to Christian Deilman, the students explored various sustainable entrepreneurship focal points and gained insight on how a sustainable business model works.
The second week of the summer school entailed intense team work, as the students sought to build sustainable business models for their ideas, through the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Preller, Silvia Angel, Esther Salvi, and Nele Terveen.
When the curtains came down on Friday 29th for the final pitching presentations, four formidable teams faced a TUM jury for evaluations and feedback. Gumzo, a sustainable development communications solution for International NGOs, sought to contribute towards the realization of SDGs by ensuring long-term impact in East Africa. Gen-bridge sought to link experienced professionals with young professionals and students through a mentorship platform. GreenGo sought to transform the French train experience, while Green Trase explored the area of sustainable tourism. And yes, the letter G at the beginning of all the business ideas was purely coincidental, because great minds think alike!
By now you might be thinking the summer school was all about intense class work and lectures. Far from it! From an adrenaline-packed Munich city treasure hunt, a beer garden experience at Weihenstephan, barbecue and late-night swim at the Isar, hiking at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, yet another beer garden experience at Tegernsee, a sustainable wine tasting, and much more! After all, the Bavarian capital has so much to offer!
For all the students; Leen Noltes, Siyun Sun, Lucie Durance, Tobias Belle, Sebastian Oettinger, Tsung-chieh Lo, Filippo Meggiolaro, Khizer Khan, Eva Jeanmart, Yajun Liang (Vevilia), Jules Pretot, Juan Robert, Helena Francesconi, Harris Hartman, Ziheng Wang, Cynthia Wainaina, Flavio Blanco, Emma Chauveinc, and Yixi Liu, it was indeed a magical experience. That is what happens when great minds come together to explore the limitless possibilities of sustainability.
The writer, Tobias Belle from Nairobi, Kenya, was part of the 2022 International Summer School. He works as a Corporate Communications officer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), where he coordinates communication and visibility for the JKUAT SEED Centre, a partner of the TUM SEED Centre. He is also a Masters student, carrying out his research at the SEED Centre Living Lab in Kenya.