/ 27 December 2020

A FORMER college dropout from a broken family won the Philippine leg of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.

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

“What I love about the GSEA experience 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,” De Belen said.

He will receive a cash prize of P150,000 and the privilege to represent the country in the EO GSEA Global Finals to be held in 2021.

De Belen had to drop out of college for financial reasons. However, he reached a turning point when he resumed his studies at the Far Eastern University. One of his professors, Joeven Castro, the vice president 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 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.

In addition to Bestway Consultancy, De Belen founded several other entities, including Letsan Belly, a vendor of lechon belly; EndCOV, a contact tracing app for Covid19; 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.

Sofia Coronel, a student from the University of Asia and the Pacific and founder of Convo Design, placed second in the GSEA finals while Ryan Ibay, a student from the University of the Philippines and founder of Mindoceo, placed third.

Held annually, GSEA is the premiere 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.