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Clean Water Distributor Wins Global Category of 2010 Business Plan Competition

A business that turns water into money took the top prize in the global category of the 2010 Brigham Young University Business Plan Competition.

Marere Pure Water won $5,000 from the Kay and Yvonne Whitmore Global Management Center/CIBER for a plan to open a market for low-cost filtered water in Kenya. The team consisted of second-year MBA students Zac Clark, from Pocatello, Idaho; Kyle Freebairn, from Tucson, Ariz.; and Kyle Lemmon, from Vacaville, Calif.

Kyle Freebairn does market research on Marere’s product in Kenya.
Kyle Freebairn does market research on Marere’s product in Kenya.

"There's a lot of low quality water in Kenya," Freebairn says. "Our business can solve a lot of problems for working Kenyans."

By using a process that puts purified water into sealed bags rather than in plastic bottles, Marere can offer water that is clean and safe at a much lower cost than its biggest competitor, Coca-Cola.

The team anticipates that other companies will enter the market once they open up business in Kenya, but the team's research shows that consumers in other African markets quickly develop strong brand preferences. By jumping into the market first and creating a brand that consumers trust, they hope to keep a firm grasp on the market despite future competition. In fact, team members say their ability to anticipate future problems helped them succeed in the competition.

"Writing a business plan really helps a team think through the big issues that need to be addressed before jumping into a business," Freebairn says. "The competition helped us move forward with a lot of the ground work, with the hopes that we could get initial traction while being able to pay for some of the cost with competition winnings."

The Whitmore Global Management Center/CIBER sponsors the global category of the BPC in order to encourage businesses that reach beyond the borders of the United States. Plans are judged by a panel of Marriott School professors and an international business professional. Although judged separately from the rest of the Business Plan Competition, plans submitted for the global category also compete in the general BPC.

"The global competition rewards good business plans that result in the penetration of foreign markets and helps the students negotiate the cultural, administrative and economic challenges of doing business abroad," says Lee Radebaugh, director of the Whitmore Global Management Center/CIBER.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.


Writer: Dustin Cammack