A proposal for digital blockchain-based elections wins business award

Wellington School of Business and Government graduate Sebastian Brocklesby and current student Georgia Lowrey both experienced success in the recent Global Enterprise Experience business competition.

A proposal to implement a digital blockchain-based solution for transparent, authentic and secure elections in South Africa has won a team lead by Wellington School of Business and Government graduate Sebastian Brocklesby the top award in the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) business competition for 2019.

The team made up of students from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Vanuatu, Nigeria, and South Africa, each won $500 in prize money for their work. Sebastian was also awarded the BMW Group Champion Global Leader award for his skill in leading the dispersed international team.

The proposal was inspired by the current electoral process in South Africa which is affected by inefficiencies and vulnerabilities including concerns around electoral fraud, vote processing inaccuracies, and excessive costs. The team proposed that a digital voting system supported by blockchain technology would not only optimise the process and save money but would be completely transparent.

Sebastian's team proposal has already generated corporate interest from several prominent multinational enterprises.

"This competition has been an invaluable experience," says Sebastian. "The ability to lead an international team across four different continents with a diverse range of cultures was both a challenging and rewarding opportunity. Creating a shared vision and integrating our unique talents and abilities helped our team to achieve the goal of establishing a well-rounded business proposal that addresses an important United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. I’m proud of our accomplishment and the interest that our project has generated from global leaders and distinguished international corporations.”

“I would also like to acknowledge Deb Gilbertson for her commitment and contribution to social entrepreneurship through running this yearly competition. Her enthusiasm and expert knowledge was incredibly inspirational.”

This year’s competition saw the introduction of a new Champion Social Entrepreneur award which provides $4000 of seed venture funding to make the winning team’s idea happen. This was jointly won by Bachelor of Commerce and Science student Georgia Lowrey and Agbanagba Racheal Aweruswo of Nigeria for their proposal to help women growing tomatoes in Nigeria. They have committed to providing bottling, labelling and brand marketing for village women growing tomatoes in Nigeria to help prevent losses of over 40% during the post-harvest stage.

“The experience was truly eye opening – especially in the early stages when other team mates would talk about some issues they are currently facing in the areas they live in. I very quickly was reminded how lucky we are to live in New Zealand,” says Georgia. “The most valuable part of the challenge was the chance to work with people from different cultures and learning how to adapt to their style of work. It was absolutely invaluable and is definitely something that will benefit me after I leave university.”

The three-week contest had teams of eight working on a business proposal that fosters decent work and economic growth, in line with Goal 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The teams are made up of 1275 participants from 128 universities and 65 organisations in 55 countries, and the majority of the teams are led by Victoria University of Wellington students.

GEE organiser Deb Gilbertson, Te Kaihau, says the competition is committed to encouraging peer leadership, which sees all team members stepping up to take responsibility for the success of the team.

"It was thrilling to see team members realise they had the power to influence the other members of their team, and it was heart-warming to see the New-Zealand based leaders encourage leadership in their teammates. This is the key to groundswell movements of citizens tackling the world’s social issues."