The future business leaders simply delivered the brightest idea.
Chesney and company, representing the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., earlier this month earned top honors in the inaugural Nestle-Nespresso AAA Sustainability MBA Challenge.
“It has been such an enriching experience,” said Chesney, a Lovett graduate. “We learned that it is never impossible to find solutions for big economic issues.”
Organizers of the tilt challenged participants to devise a plan to make small holder coffee farming in Colombia sustainable for the next quarter century.
The Rollins contingent, taking a “root-cause analysis” approach, sought to determine why an increasing number of small-scale Colombia coffee farmers are abandoning their farms and all relevant implications.
“By identifying the root causes and addressing them effectively, small solutions will solve big issues,” Chesney said.
His five-member team was one of three finalists — schools from the Netherlands and Canada the others — vying to sway a professional jury comprised of external agricultural and sustainability experts, business strategists, academics and senior staff members of Nespresso.
Chesney’s crew apparently left the best impression on the judges with its “Grow Forward” framework.
“It is essential for Nespresso to engage with tomorrow’s sustainable business leaders to discuss their ideas to further improve our sustainability initiatives,” said Nestle Nespresso South America CEO Jean-Marc Duvoisin in a news release.
Chesney’s group’s multi-tiered strategy is designed to attract and retain the next generation of Colombians as coffee farmers by ensuring that coffee farming is a profitable and sustainable economic activity now and for the foreseeable future. The project’s primarily centered on diversifying farmer income in order to provide an additional revenue source for families and to mitigate the seasonality of employment.
Rollins team member Morgan Filteau called the group’s win a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Per contest rules, Chesney and his fellow winners are set to take a 10-day trip to Colombia in September to meet and discuss their proposal directly with coffee farmers and local partners in an effort to assess its feasibility.