The annual APEC Business Efficiency and Success Target Award, known as the APEC BEST Award, announced its 2021 winners from a diverse group of effective entrepreneurs and innovators around the APEC region.
Mijin Gwon from Korea won the grand prize with her green biotechnology company, Ag-Uni, of which she is founder and chief executive officer. Her company developed a precision agriculture solution that helps minimize the variability of resources’ quality and yield by analyzing and monitoring the root and soil environment, formulating the best farming system to produce high quality products by leveraging the data.
“Agriculture is no longer just about food. It supports livelihoods and economic growth and touches many different aspects of our life including health, beauty and many others,” explained Gwon. “Our company aims to support the green biotechnology sector to be more sustainable by cultivating crop data to achieve the best agriculture system that can be widely used in rural and urban areas.”
Meanwhile, Kendall Flutey from New Zealand, founder and chief executive officer of financial education platform Banqer, was awarded the Best Top Manager. Her company provides an online tool for primary and intermediate schools to teach financial literacy to students.
“The idea is to empower children and provide them with education about finance, including debt, investments, even managing risks, as early as possible so that they can make the right financial decisions in future,” said Flutey. “The goal is to be in every classroom across New Zealand and foster further community economic development through informed decision-making.”
Sarah Delotaraya of SPD Jobs from the Philippines and Alice Ai of Shenzhen Qianyu Technology from China won the second and third place of the Top Managers category, respectively.
“Women workers and women-led businesses play an important role to support a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable recovery,” said Renee Graham, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “Innovation, commitment and resiliency shown by women entrepreneurs through the APEC BEST Award reflect their vital role in achieving better economic recovery for all.”
The contest is an initiative of Russia, with Chile; China, Mexico; New Zealand; and the Philippines as co-sponsors of this year’s awards. This year’s contest featured 16 nominees from nine APEC economies, competing under the theme of “Women’s Business: Driver of Inclusive Recovery.”
“Women-owned and women-managed businesses have shown great flexibility in adapting to the challenges brought by the pandemic, and even saw opportunities for development,” said Natalia Strigunova of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development. “What we found fascinating is that environmental, social and governance themes were featured prominently in this year’s contest.”
“The 2021 nominees presented some innovative projects in green technologies, shared best practice in family businesses and corporate social responsibility, and showed commitments to environment protection and green workplaces,” she explained,
Besides the 2021 APEC BEST Award grand prize and the award in the Best Top Managers category, the contest also awarded five winners in the following categories:
- Indigenous Community Support: Dr Phyllis Callaghan of Katuku Island from New Zealand
- International Attractiveness: Genlian Shen of Sichuan Vanov New Material from China
- Best Business Sustainability in Tackling the Pandemic: Rosemarie P. Rafael of Amazing Philippines Digital Economy Corp. (ARDEC) from the Philippines
- Fourth Industrial Revolution Project: Shu-Chen Yang of Huijia Health Life Technology from Chinese Taipei
- Best Family Business Support: Olga Ermachenko of Garden of Joy from Russia
“The APEC BEST Award aim to contribute to the development of women entrepreneurs’ potential and provide participants with a chance to network and internationalize their businesses,” added Irina Saltykova, who leads the APEC BEST Award project. “We have also launched the APEC BEST Award Club where past participants and winners can continue to engage with each other, share best practices as well as create and support new international projects around the region.”
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