MIHS marketing students prepare for world competition

Students in Mercer Island High School’s marketing class pose for a photo used on the students’ Web site for Mercer Trade Inc., and international trade company launched with Ghana and Malaysia last year.  - Contributed photo
Students in Mercer Island High School’s marketing class pose for a photo used on the students’ Web site for Mercer Trade Inc., and international trade company launched with Ghana and Malaysia last year.
— image credit: Contributed photo

The marketing program at Mercer Island High School is taking unprecedented leaps. Not only has teacher Carol Wisely launched a new international entrepreneurship course, to begin next year, but her Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) team is heading to San Francisco next week to compete in the SAGE 2010 World Cup regionals competition.

The students and Wisely, to say the least, are thrilled about these opportunities.

“Because we’re the only SAGE team in Washington, we automatically get to go to the national championship in Buffalo, N.Y., after competing [in San Francisco],” said sophomore SAGE member Mattie Friedman.

The Islander is convinced that her seven-person team will make it all the way to the World Cup final, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, this summer. Only the top two SAGE teams nationwide will qualify for Cape Town.

“All the things we’ve done this year have made me confident,” she said, gesturing to a classroom filled with marketing plan posters, photos from SAGE trading partners and products imported from Malaysia and Ghana.

SAGE is an international nonprofit organization that links high school student organizations to mentors from local universities and businesses. Its purpose is to advance youth business and social entrepreneurship in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

At MIHS, this purpose has been well served.

The school’s marketing program first branched into global trading in 2009 with the foundation of Mercer Trade Inc. It is the first international trading company run by high schoolers on the West Coast. As their pilot project, Wisely’s 11 students chose to sell stocks and import products from Saint Augustine’s College, an all boys’ school in Ghana, Africa.

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation donated $1,000 to help with set-up costs for Mercer Trade Inc., which is run through the London-based Achievers International Program. The students also sold stock in their company, contributing $500. A majority of that stock is held within the company.

Today, the classroom-based business continues, albeit at a larger scale.

“We also trade with Malaysia now. They send us beautiful scarves, and we still have several products from Ghana,” she said, adding that soccer jerseys are especially popular.

Marketing student Leo Phillips is the class’ Ghana CEO. Asked what he enjoys most about the project, Phillips said it is the personal interaction with students at St. Augustine.

“It’s all about communication,” he said. “We set up video conferences [with the students in Ghana and Malaysia], which has been the best part for me.”

Most of the products from Ghana and Malaysia are sold to MIHS students and parents. Last year, Mercer Trade Inc. earned a profit of $600, which they donated to a charity in Ghana.

All of these accomplishments, Friedman said, are what the Islanders’ SAGE team will be presenting at this weekend’s World Cup regional competition in San Francisco. The judges look at students’ overall accomplishments in class.

Friedman said she hopes to study business after graduating from MIHS. She plans to enroll in Wisely’s new three-credit international entrepreneurship course next fall.

Wisely received a $20,000 grant from the state to design the class. The rubric will not only be used at MIHS, but at high schools across Washington.

“It’s very exciting,” the teacher said, adding that the course is open to students outside MIHS through the Washington Network for Innovative Careers (WANIC) program. “We’ve already got a list of students signed up.”

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