A University of Auckland medical student has been named the country’s top entrepreneur at a tertiary institution – after gaining a huge social media following for her poetry works.

Jamie Penno

Jamie Penno, an undergraduate student, is the first Kiwi woman to win the Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA) which is an initiative of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation that aims to support young Kiwi entrepreneurs.

Penno’s social media business F.D. Soul has an international following of over 152,000 which she uses to market her customised typewriter poems, hard copy book and creative writing works around the world.

Penno’s global following has been built in less than two years.  She has plans to put out a second book, and a line of apparel and merchandise as well as take on staff to help manage the delivery logistics of her rapidly growing orders.

Her New Zealand prize includes an unspecified cash prize of ‘thousands’ plus business mentoring with a local entrepreneur. She will also head to Toronto to compete in against finalists from more than 110 other cities around the world for a prize pool worth almost $60,000.

Penno says she was thrilled to win the award and to have the chance to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs from around the world and learn from them. “There’s a surprising amount that can be learnt and applied to your own business just by listening to what and how other businesses are doing, even in completely unrelated sectors,

“I am looking forward to the challenge of presenting in front of a global audience as well as the opportunity to network and bounce ideas around with other young entrepreneurs.” she says.

Lester Binns, spokesperson for the New Zealand chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation says Penno’s ability to turn her passion into a business was a key factor in their judges decision to award her the title.

“Jamie was selected because she has taken something she loves and turned it into a business by using social media and online retailing in a unique model.

Her words have impacted many people deeply and she has a massive online following. Her love for writing was very clear and to bring this passion so cleverly to the market showed us she is at the beginning of a long entrepreneurial career.

We felt Jamie represented what we hope is the future for entrepreneurs – bringing something you love to the community and that is so positive for the community. Becoming profitable but not at the expense of your product, your passion or your values,” says Binns.

The annual GSEA awards are open to students enrolled in a tertiary institution, and who own a business which has been generating revenue for more than six months

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