Over eighty teachers, professors, high school students, college students, and family gathered at Kuyper College on Tuesday, March 29 for the Triple Bottom Line Business Idea Contest, hosted by Kuyper’s Business Leadership program.
The Triple Bottom Line Business Idea Contest is a “Shark Tank”-style contest for high schoolers designed to help them engage the idea of the triple bottom line and propose a business based on that idea. The triple bottom line, which is central to Kuyper’s Business Leadership program, is the idea that, from a Reformed worldview, Christian business should not have a single bottom line (profit), but three bottom lines: people (positively impacting employees, partners, and customers), planet (stewarding resources well to care for the environment), and profit (growing the business).
The annual contest began about five years ago as, according to business professor Marc Andreas, “An outreach of Kuyper College to do good in the community.” Professor Andreas and former adjunct business professor, current board member Dr. Eric Hoekstra founded the contest. The contest begins with Professor Andreas visiting ten different local high schools, both Christian and public, to speak in business classes about the triple bottom line. Then, students are welcomed to come up with a business idea that revolves around the triple bottom line. They can do this individually or in groups. Thirty teams submitted their ideas to Professor Andreas by the deadline of February 26, and the final twelve teams were paired with current Kuyper business students to act as mentors to the high schoolers. On the day of the contest, these twelve teams each have five minutes to present their ideas to a panel of five judges. The top three teams receive cash prizes, made possible by donations from local businesses.
Many interesting ideas were presented, but the winner came from Zion Christian High School. The idea was called “Bracelets for the Beaches,” a business which would sell bracelets that had unique designs for each beach in Michigan. A portion of profits would go to to Michigan beach preservation organizations. The winners walked away with a triple-prize: a $1,000 check for themselves, a $1,000 donation to their school, and a $1,000 scholarship to Kuyper College, should they choose to attend.