ICC 2021 and Beyond: A Closer Look at the International Case Competition and the Winning Team


In April 2019, The AUC School of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) inaugurated the first International Case Competition ICC with the aim of bringing together teams of undergraduate students from all over the world, to compete in solving a challenging business case. The first round started with six international and three national universities participating in the competition, a total of 34 students, eight mentors, and 14 judges. Two years later, a total of 202 students, 55 teams from 20 nationalities, and 32 universities around the world participated in the third round of ICC.

“This was the first competition of its kind organized in Egypt and focusing on business challenges facing high-growth entrepreneurial ventures,” explained Hala Barakat, director, CEI.

On March 29, the winners of the 2021 round, namely students from the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar (UTB) Business School in Columbia, were announced in a virtual session airing live on Facebook. This year’s competition was powered by CEI in partnership with El Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC) and the student-led Business Association (BA).

Together with 25 national and international judges of academia, professionals, and entrepreneurs coming from Egypt, UAE, Morocco, Oman, Jordan, Japan, India, Thailand, Chile, Colombia, Canada, and KSA, the students were able to compete over a span of 24 hours on the case of ‘Schaduf’, an uprising scale-up established ten years ago in Cairo, Egypt. Schaduf has been developing sustainable agriculture and landscaping, surpassing a turbulent revolution, political and economic unrest, and, finally, a devastating pandemic. This was the perfect time to raise their challenges and set the steering towards Schaduf’s sustainable growth strategy with the help of our brilliant competitors.

“Learning by doing is of extreme value, and with the ICC, our students had the opportunity to put all the theory into practice, they built their own knowledge,” commented James Perez, department head in management at UTB Business School who led the winning team. “As their tutor I feel extremely proud of them and I'm sure they won't forget all the learning gained in the competition; teaching those skills and forming global professionals are vital for business schools nowadays.”

“Startups case competitions are a great practical learning tool that engages students into the real world of entrepreneurship.” This is how Barakat addressed the idea that brought ICC to life. “We recognize the value of such competitions not only to promote cultural fluency between students but also to introduce them to the multifaceted challenges that startups face, especially in developing countries,” stated Barakat, explaining further that “case competitions are a great way and a thought-provoking method for students to identify challenges in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and help emerging businesses develop a strategy to address the key concerns provided by the difficult times and economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

When we asked Barakat how she envisioned the next round of ICC, she told us that they are hoping to adopt a hybrid format, where initial submissions are held virtually and a celebration of the finalists is held on campus, while taking all precautionary measures, of course.

When asked why she participated in ICC, UTB Student and Teamleader Dayana Sánchez Monterrosa said

“I decided to participate in this competition, as I consider myself a person who likes challenges and saw it as an experience that would allow me to put into practice the knowledge that I have acquired throughout my learnings. Similarly, it was a challenge that required maximum effort at the individual level and at the team level, as we had to face high-level international judges and defend our arguments.” 

Dayana Sánchez Monterrosa

The competition allowed Pamela Blanco Coronado, another member of the UTB team, to test her capabilities and identify her weaknesses. 

“During the development of the case I felt determined and committed; the communication and cohesion of the team was a very significant factor at all times,” she said. The competition was not easy, but for Coronado “the pleasant and valuable experience” the competition gave her “made up for the sleepless nights.” Pamela Blanco Coronado
“The fact of having only 24 hours to solve the case is quite a challenge, it made me work a little under pressure, which was very good, because I have to optimize the time and  increase my productivity in order to achieve the desired results,” said Liliana Carolina Rivera Babilonia. “I think the key to success was teamwork and individual commitment to the competition.”Liliana Carolina Rivera Babilonia

For Santiago Zuñiga Osorio, the competition was a learning experience that showed him how far hard work can take you. He elaborated:

“Having the opportunity to communicate your proposals to the other side of the world, as well as being able to listen to advice from international jurors was something unique and valuable.”

Santiago Zuñiga Osorio

“The ICC has definitely been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.  Winning a contest of this magnitude makes me proud and happy because I see reflected the effort and knowledge that I have acquired throughout my career,” stressed Babilonia.

“The competition was a perfect opportunity to explore, study and analyze other cultures and markets, based on real cases, this helps me to broaden my perspective and criteria on organizational expansion processes, movements, trends, and the impact that different variables have on business decision making (as well as the consequences or ramifications that may arise as a result). I also became aware of the importance of looking at dilemmas with a magnifying glass and visualizing different scenarios,” explained Coronado.

“Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar, Colombia, would like to thank AUC, the judges, and everyone who made this come true for the great opportunity,” concluded Professor Perez ensuring that we shall expect UTB to be in Cairo in the coming fourth edition of ICC.

Learn more about the winning team here.