Former college dropout wins student entrepreneur award

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 21) – A former college dropout emerged as the national champion of a prestigious global competition for student entrepreneurs.

Charles de Belen, a Master of Science in Innovation and Business student at the Asian Institute of Management, won the Philippine leg of the Entrepreneurs' Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (EO GSEA).

De Belen was feted for establishing 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," said de Belen, who's also a licensed lawyer.

De Belen is also the founder of several entities such as lechon belly seller Letsan Belly, COVID-19 contact tracing app EndCOV, and online marketplace Dibi.

De Belen is also active in civil society as he helped establish free legal assistance organization Karapatan and youth-led good governance advocacy group GoodGovPH.

As EO GSEA Philippines Champion, de Belen will receive a cash prize of ₱150,000 and will represent the country in the EO GSEA Global Finals to be held in 2021.

De Belen had to drop out of De La Salle University due to financial reasons and resumed his studies at the Far Eastern University, where he became a bemedalled debater.

University of Asia and the Pacific student and Convo Design founder Sofia Coronel finished as runner-up of the EO GSEA, while University of the Philippines student and Mindoceo founder Ryan Ibay landed at third place.

Entrepreneurs' Organization is a global support network of over 14,000 like-minded business owners across 200 chapters in 61 countries. The EO Philippines chapter was established in 1996 and currently has 195 members, who own businesses in various industries like manufacturing, retail, information technology, distribution, real estate, and services.