The top three finalists are from Savannah, Mumbai, India and Winnipeg, Canada
SAVANNAH, Ga. – World Trade Centers Association Foundation (WTCAF), an affiliated organization with World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), recently announced that three Savannah State University students were named a top finalist in 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 other two finalist teams represent World Trade Centers in Mumbai, India and Winnipeg, Canada.
World Trade Center Savannah (WTCSav) and National Office Systems sponsored the nomination of Foster Beelief.
“National Office Systems and I are beyond thrilled to have Foster Beelief chosen as one of the final three projects chosen by the World Trade Centers Association Foundation in a global competition,” said President of National Office Systems, World Trade Centers Association board member and WTCSav board president Scott Center. “Sade Shofidiya and her team have done a phenomenal job with their project that addresses so many things troubling our world today. This is truly the right time for Foster Beelief. National Office Systems is proud to have sponsored the local competition.”
The Foster Beelief team, otherwise known as “The Hive,” is comprised of three women from around the globe. 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. Jennyfer Vivas, a graduate of SSU from Bogota, Columbia, is the Chief Technology Officer, and Foster Beelief’s Chief Logistics Officer Karen Perez is a Fall 2020 intern for WTCSav from Dallas, Texas, and is currently in her third year at SSU.
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.
“We created Foster Beelief to be a mechanism to address honeybee and other environmental justice issues such as food deserts and the lack of minority participation in outdoor recreation,” said Shofidiya. “I’ve always been a steward for the environment since I was a child. While interning at World Trade Center Savannah in 2017, I learned the significance of the honeybees and became aware of their plight. From there on, I was ignited with passion. I never knew how significant such a small being was. It inspired me to take action. Although our team is a small minority amongst billions of other beings, we could ‘bee’ the change the world needs and truly save the honeybees and protect our planet. We can form a global ‘hive’ to address honeybees and other environmental justice issues. We are very thrilled and honored to be a finalist and look forward to spreading our work.”
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.
The final winner is expected to be announced later this year and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to next year’s World Trade Centers Association General Assembly scheduled to take place in Tapei, Taiwan. There the team will present their project to the entire World Trade Centers Association membership.