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Young entrepreneurs must have what it takes to create a business: passion, drive, creativity and energy. Many high school students brought these remarkable qualities and more to SAGE Canada's 6th National Competition on May 22, 2015.

Dressed in formal business attire, bursting with energy and determination, high school students from across the Greater Toronto Area came together to participate in the 2015 National Competition held at Ryerson University.

The day began with an opening ceremony hosted by incoming President Kathryn Gamis, and Vice-President Aron Tolentino. Students from 12 competing schools were given a break down of how the day would proceed, and a chance to share their enthusiasm with the other schools.

The students were asked to participate in a social media contest through out the day, where describing SAGE in a five-word tweet could give them a chance to win a poster signed by Toronto Raptor Jonas Valanciunas or a solar powered backpack by Volatic, through SAGE's partner MAKO Invent.

Throughout the day, the schools competed in two categories: Socially Responsible Business and Social Enterprise Business. Each team was given 13 minutes to give an oral presentation to a panel of judges from various professional industries. The presentations were followed by a question and answer period lasting seven minutes. The team that would most successfully meet SAGE Global criteria would be recognized as the champions.

This year's judges included industry professionals such as John Weigelt, national technology officer at Microsoft Canada; Mark Shanahan, senior merchant at Staples Canada; and Oren Berkovich, innovation manager at Deloitte. Judges also came from Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management and the innovative product development company, MAKO Invent.

The competing students were thrilled to give their presentations about a business idea they had been working on for several months. Ranging from selling t-shirts to build wells in developing nations to creating a stalk market for local Torontonians, presentations consisted of high energy, organization, and passion for various causes.

The National Competition ended with an evening gala, where students were able to enjoy dinner and network with one another and industry professionals. They also enjoyed music performed by The Riffs, a local high school band.

During the gala, keynote speaker Vicki Saunders inspired students about entrepreneurship, which she describes as doing something good, but also making money.

Work on your mindset, she adds. Get rid of any limitations you might have, and redefine everything.

Students were waiting to hear who the champions were. First place for the Social Enterprise Business category went to Change Impacting Toronto's Youth (C.I.T.Y.). The students were from John Polanyi Collegiate Institute and received first place for a business idea that would provide families with affordable, high quality fruits and vegetables.

C.I.T.Y. from John Polanyi Collegiate Institute
1st Place Social Enterprise Business

First place for the Socially Responsible Business category went to Limitless Co. from SATEC at W.A. Porter Collegiate Institute. The winning teams were excited, as the hard work they put into their ideas paid off.

Other schools were able to take home awards in categories such as most innovative, spirit and student leader of the year.

The winning teams are given the opportunity to represent Canada at the SAGE World Cup in Korea in August 2015, where they will face competitors from 30 other countries.

SATEC @ W.A. Porter Collegiate Institute
1st Place Socially Responsible Business

SAGE Canada's National Competition was a strong reflection of the organization's primary goal of empowering youth to reach their full potential. Every team went home inspired to continue working towards achieving their goals and continuing to build and foster their business ventures.

Incoming president, Gamis, who was seeing the competition for the first time said she was surprised by the caliber of the students, and was inspired by how passionate they were about the ventures they started.

They definitely sparked something in me to work harder and bring SAGE to a whole new level for next year, she says.

SAGE Canada's incoming team is looking forward to organizing another year of remarkable opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Canada.

About SAGE Canada

SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) is an international network that brings together teams of secondary school students with nearby university and college students, business leaders and civic leaders. SAGE Canada's primary goal is to advance youth entrepreneurship and community service around the world, emphasizing economic opportunity, ethical business practices, social responsibility, civic engagement and environmental awareness.

Photo: Ryan Lai