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My Aussie x Her Campus Business Competition Experience

We were two months into quarantine. The spring semester had just ended and like everyone else, I was desperately looking for ways to fill the seemingly endless amounts of time that we suddenly had. I had applied to a few internships, started a few creative projects, and took the time to develop a business idea that I had a few months prior called BANTU, a social media and e-commerce platform for all thing’s natural hair.

Then, in early May, during a cursory scroll through hundreds of unread emails, I saw the words “You Can Now Apply For The First-Ever Aussie Business Plan Competition”. 

The timing of this email was so coincidental that I didn’t hesitate. With no prior business experience, the bare bones of a business plan, but complete excitement at the prospect of being able to bring BANTU to life, I applied. 

And over the course of the next three months, I embarked on an unforgettable experience.

 Coming from having no business experience meant that I was learning how to start a business while starting a business. I was creating budgets, interviewing software developers, designing marketing campaigns, and working on producing the best possible version of my business. Additionally, I had to learn how to manage a small but essential team who worked to keep BANTU on track.

I believe that it was this grind and my genuine passion for my business that caught the attention of the judges and caused BANTU to be chosen along with 19 other businesses out of 200 brilliant entrepreneurs to be the first ever Roo Crew Fellows. 

The Aussie x HER Campus Business Plan Competition made me ask: “If not me, then who?” I knew how crazy it sounded for a college student to start a business in the middle of a pandemic, with no funding or experience. But there is something so powerful in truly believing in what you want to achieve that will make what seems impossible and out of reach, a reality.  I had to tap into that belief in order to overcome the (many) obstacles that came up throughout this competition, and I am so happy that I did.

Although my business wasn’t chosen as one of the 10 finalists, what I learned about business development, the mentorship I received, and the things I discovered about myself over the course of the fellowship have all made me a better person. This competition and fellowship has given me the confidence I needed to take my business to the next level and I am so excited to see what the future holds for BANTU.

Chioma Chukwuma

Vanderbilt '23

My name is Chioma and I am a Political Science major at Vanderbilt University! When I'm not working on academics, you can find me reading a fantasy novel, writing a story, or scrolling through Twitter.
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