SAVANNAH, Ga. – World Trade Centers Association Foundation (WTCAF), an affiliated organization with World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), recently announced that two Savannah State University students were named the winner of the 2020 Peace Through Trade Competition. The all-female team’s entry, Foster Beelief, is a student-led honeybee charity that works to promote sustainability through the education of the at-risk honeybee population, increasing STEM interests and environmental stewardship, building stronger industry and community partnerships and increasing citizen involvement in communities.
The Foster Beelief team will present their project to the entire World Trade Centers Association membership in 2021.
“This competition is unique as it unites students around the important mission of creating peace through trade, and it allows us to connect with the leaders of tomorrow and to expand our community of young talent for the World Trade Centers Association,” said WTCA Executive Director of Business Development Robin van Puyenbroeck.
After being named a top three finalist among applicants from all around the globe, the Foster Beelief team ultimately won against two other teams in Mumbai, India and Winnipeg, Canada. World Trade Center Savannah (WTCSav) and National Office Systems sponsored the nomination of Foster Beelief.
The Foster Beelief team, otherwise known as “The Hive,” is comprised of two women. Sade Shofidiya, a former WTCSav intern and current graduate student at Savannah State University (SSU), is from Chicago, Ill., and serves as the team’s Chief Executive Officer. Foster Beelief’s Chief Logistics Officer Karen Perez is a Fall 2020 intern for WTCSav from Dallas, Texas, and is currently in her fourth year at SSU.
“We’re honored to be first place and we look forward to presenting in front of the World Trade Centers Association General Assembly,” said Shofidiya. “This is our time, to be the change the world needs and open doors of opportunity for marginalized groups to learn and engage in sustainable practices. We are one planet, and like the honeybees, we are one hive. We believe in a world of environmental and social justice and we will continue to strive until there is a universal network of caring people that are changing our world for the better.”
“We are so proud of the Foster Beelief team,” said President of National Office Systems and World Trade Centers Association board member Scott Center. “Their project is vitally important, and it is absolutely remarkable how this endeavor tackles so many issues troubling our world today head on. Health, environment, poverty, immune systems, nutrition and urban food deserts are all addressed through the Foster Beelief initiative. National Office Systems hopes to get a hive in the garden of our new showroom!”
Foster Beelief is a double pronged initiative. On one hand, Foster Beelief’s educational outreach program promotes an appreciation for wildlife, sustainable practices and pro-citizen behavior amongst low-income communities. On the other side, the consumable plants from Foster Beelief’s pollinator gardens will function as a food source for both the honeybee and these communities impacted by food deserts, thus fulfilling the social need for healthier food options in marginalized communities while helping to sustain the honeybees.
“On behalf of the World Trade Center Savannah Board of Directors, I extend my sincerest congratulations to the Foster Beelief team,” said Chairman of the WTCSav Board John Petrino. “What an honor it is to be recognized among nominees from all around the globe. We are incredibly proud of the time and devotion that these students poured into their project, and we are excited to see where their innovation will take them in the future.”
The Peace Through Trade Competition is a student contest for the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders hosted by WTCAF. Teams are asked to present an original project, product or other innovative idea that “exemplifies and promotes social innovation and sustainability through collaboration, fair trade and ethical business practices.” The project also needed to address one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Foster Beelief addressed seven of these goals.