Cambridge learners identify skills that make a great entrepreneur


Cambridge learners in over 30 countries researched the world’s most famous entrepreneurs for the Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise student writing competition, describing the secrets to their success.

The competition was won by Elisabeth Fong, a student from Hwa Chong International School in Singapore who wrote her essay on Olivia Lum, a Singaporean entrepreneur who has made a global impact with her ‘perseverance and business-savvy strategies and hard work’.

With more than 660 entries for the competition, the judges felt that Elisabeth made a very well-presented case for choosing Olivia Lum, highlighting her enterprise skills and emphasising her positive, inspirational attitude. Olivia Lum is founder and Chief Executive of Singapore water filtration firm, Hyflux, and has risen from a background of extreme poverty to achieve international success.

Elisabeth Fong was inspired by Olivia Lum’s ‘ability to turn adversity into opportunity’. Her winning question for Olivia Lum was: ‘What is the one thing that you have regretted doing in this business?’

University of Cambridge International Examinations held the competition to celebrate the launch of Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise. Learners in Cambridge schools were asked to write an essay about their favourite entrepreneur, including how that entrepreneur inspires them, and what question they would like to ask him or her.

The judges also chose 15 Cambridge students as finalists. They come from schools in India, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The finalists include:

– Shwetha Sairam from APL Global School, India
– Mounika Burugupalli and Srimukh Oddiraju from Oakridge International School, India
– Ninette Lim from Gloria 1 Christian Senior High School, Indonesia
– Hesham Mashhour from New English School, Kuwait
– Ashlee Elliott and Jong Ho Hwang from Macleans College, New Zealand
– Megan Bramley from Springbank School, New Zealand
– Jenna Lee from Hwa Chong International School, Singapore
– Nomathemba Mafico and Danielle Rehmeyer from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, Swaziland
– Maurice Matewa from Speciss Technical Campus High School, Zimbabwe

Shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson and Michael Dell were among students’ favourite entrepreneurs. Some students chose their entrepreneurial parents, while others wrote about successful entrepreneurs in their home towns.

The competition judges were Ann Puntis, Chief Executive of University of Cambridge International Examinations, Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam, Director of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL), and Jo Hargreaves, Principal Examiner for Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise.

Ann Puntis said: ‘From the response and the quality of the entries, it’s obvious that entrepreneurial skills and enterprise are topics that are of real interest to today’s learners. Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise is very relevant in today’s world, and has been very well-received by schools. On behalf of Cambridge I would like to congratulate Elisabeth Fong on her outstanding entry.’

Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam from Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) said: ‘This has been a real eye-opener for me with some impressive entries from these young people. It is so encouraging to see the level of effort and dedication invested by students in terms of getting to know their chosen entrepreneurs. I hope these enterprising role models and the whole experience inspires them to take up entrepreneurship in the future. My congratulations to the organisers, all the entrants and the worthy winner.’

Jo Hargreaves, the Principal Examiner for Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise said: ‘Cambridge learners obviously really enjoyed thinking about their favourite entrepreneur and why that person is important to them. It was obvious from the entries that what entrepreneurs do affects people in many different ways, and being inspired by a successful entrepreneur helps put business practice into focus bringing learning alive. I would like to congratulate Elisabeth on her winning entry, and all the finalists.’

About CambridgeIGCSE Enterprise

Cambridge IGCSE Enterprise is a new qualification for 14-16 year olds. It brings the world of business into the classroom, introducing learners to the skills needed to build a successful enterprise. Learn more.

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