Green Chinese small and medium business owners in a remote university conference center in southern Guangdong province rolled up their sleeves to become better communicators.
Organized by the World Resources Institute's New Ventures China program and hosted by the Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communications at Shantou University, 34 green small and medium enterprises (SMEs) convened for a one and a half day workshop to learn the art of making an investment pitch. The businesses came from all over China—as far as Inner Mongolia—and represented industries ranging from water recycling to organic honey.
"There are so many brilliant SME entrepreneurs in China who have developed innovative solutions for the country’s environmental challenges," said Ye Weijia, New Ventures China Director. "They need investment and their main challenge is to communicate their solutions to investors in a simple and effective way."
Held on May 9th and 10th, the training was facilitated by Patrice Schneider, a former media executive and business communication expert. "Tell your story so that you can be a diamond!" emphasized Schneider who stressed to the entrepreneurs that the goal of the pitch is to attract investor interest by showing explicitly how their business solves the "pain" of the market and that they are capable leaders. "Investors always invest in people, not projects nor technology," he advised.
The centerpiece of the workshop was an interactive session in which the green SMEs presented a timed “6-minute pitch” of their business to the trainers. "Get to the point—fast, and make sure we know your ask," Schneider told one presenter. Many entrepreneurs took this advice to heart. "After listening to the teacher’s instructions, I cut my 40-slide presentation down to 10 and re-organized my pitch to start with a brief story," says Qian Yixin of Beijing Kingbo Biotech Company, a firm that produces organic fertilizers.
With financial support from the Citi Foundation, Shell China, and Alcoa Foundation, the workshop also provided a unique opportunity for these entrepreneurs to network with each other – everywhere you turned, business cards were being exchanged and friendships were being forged. The event is part of the New Ventures program which supports sustainable enterprises by accelerating the transfer of capital to outstanding companies that incorporate social and environmental benefits.
Learn more about New Ventures at www.new-ventures.org.