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College dropout wins student entrepreneur award

A former college dropout from a broken family emerged as champion of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) Philippines Finals.

Charles de Belen, a Master of Science in Innovation and Business student at the Asian Institute of Management and a licensed lawyer, won the Philippine leg of the global competition as the founder of Bestway Consultancy, a company that helps other entrepreneurs start businesses.

Held annually, GSEA is the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who own and operate a business. The competition also provides a platform where student entrepreneurs can connect with key industry players locally and internationally, allowing them to gain valuable insights and learn best practices.

“I encourage all student entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and passions,” says EO Philippines GSEA Chair JP Tuason. “We look forward to developing more amazing young student entrepreneurs in 2021 and beyond.”

“What I love about the GSEA experience,” added Mr. de Belen, “is that when you start a business, somewhere along the way, you forget why you started the business in the first place. Through the GSEA, I was able to find that ‘why’ back.”

As EO GSEA Philippines Champion, Mr. de Belen will receive a cash prize of one hundred fifty thousand pesos and the privilege to represent the country in the EO GSEA Global Finals to be held in 2021. The EO GSEA Global Finals is held annually to coincide with the EO Global Leadership Conference (GLC), but was conducted virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Mr. de Belen’s emergence as the EO GSEA Philippines champion is a true against-all-odds story, as his parents separated and left him to his grandmother at an early age, and he had to drop out of De La Salle University (DLSU) due to financial reasons.

It was when he resumed his studies at the Far Eastern University (FEU) that Mr. de Belen reached a turning point. One of his professors, Joeven Castro, currently VP of Academic Services at FEU, saw his potential and invited him to join the debate team. It was his experience there that made him realize he had the capacity to achieve.

Another pivotal moment for Mr. de Belen came when a computer gaming friend was killed in a gambling dispute. That was when he realized that he wanted to make a mark in the world and not be quickly forgotten when he is gone.

In addition to Bestway Consultancy, Mr. de Belen has founded several other entities, including Letsan Belly, a vendor of lechon belly; EndCOV, a contact tracing app for COVID-19; Karapatan, a non-profit organization providing free legal assistance, GoodGovPH, a youth-led non-profit organization that advocates good governance, and Dibi, an online marketplace for rental items.

Second place went to Sofia Coronel, a student from the University of Asia and the Pacific and founder of Convo Design, while third place went to Ryan Ibay, a student from the University of the Philippines and founder of Mindoceo.

A replay of the competition is available on the EO GSEA Philippines Facebook page. Student entrepreneurs can apply for next year’s competition on the GSEA website www.gsea.org.