Popularising international trade and commerce through mind sports competitions

Wednesday, 28 December 2011 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ruwan Senanayeka

“It is considered the world’s first truly multinational company. Singapore and Hong Kong were established by this company and at one point it had the largest merchant navy in the world and conducted and controlled 50% of world trade. What is this company?”

That was one of the many mind-challenging and interesting questions (the answer is The East India Company) posed to some 250 contestants who competed at Sri Lanka’s first ever ‘Global Commerce Quiz’ held on 13 December at Hotel Ceylon Intercontinental

The Global Commerce Quiz or GCQ for the Governor’s Challenge Trophy or GCT, as it is now branded, is a table quiz competition designed to test the knowledge of participants in international trade and commerce, current affairs and general knowledge comprising of some interesting trivia.

The quiz was conducted by the International Quizzing Association (IQA) Sri Lanka branch, in collaboration with the Shippers’ Academy and was endorsed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Sri Lanka chapter.

The competition drew some of the best brains in Sri Lanka with teams from banks and financial institutes, mercantile institutes, public sector organisations, schools/educational institutes and independent teams largely made up by those individuals who are passionate about quizzing as a mind sport.

The competition also created history by attracting international teams representing Central Banks from Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan. Participation of international teams, no doubt, generated more enthusiasm as well as increased competition amongst the teams. Participation of a school from Jaffna was another first for a quiz of this nature.

According to IQA Country Representative Ruwan Senanayake, who was also the quiz master of GCQ, “The questions were compiled to make the competitors entertained, whilst keeping to the key objectives of educating and informing. This is a mind sport contest where we challenge the contestants by way of testing their knowledge and the ability to recall what they know within a limited time of 30 seconds per question.”

Instead of focusing purely on theory or going deep into trading practices and legal terms etc, the questions were compiled in such a manner that they could be answered even by a novice or an outsider to the world of commerce, provided of course they had worked hard and kept themselves abreast with what has been happening in the global environment.

As the five members of the teams were able to discuss and answer collectively, this further helped to create camaraderie and team work-an important element to become successful in the global arena.

Shippers Academy CEO Rohan Masakorale and the architect behind the project, also had positive comments about this unique endeavour. “Surviving under the shadow of terrorism for over 30 years, Sri Lanka is now well placed to regain its position in the global stage and the need of the hour is to have competent business people who can excel both here and aboard. Knowledge enhancing activities of this nature, done in an interesting atmosphere in the manner in which this quiz was conducted, will be far more effective than formal knowledge imparting activities.

Currently there is this perception amongst Sri Lankans that professions related to science and mathematics are elite and have better recognition over trade and commerce, which is perceived as less interesting ‘mudalalis making money type’ activity.

We aim to change this negative perception through activities of this nature, and educating people about the importance of commerce knowledge and the contribution made to society by businesses through creation of jobs and better living conditions. After all, it was the business sector that kept the economy going and kept the home fires burning during the dark days of the country by maintaining an economic growth of over 4.5% consistently.”

 Seylan Bank team emerged the first ever winners of the Global commerce Quiz and was awarded the prestigious Governors Trophy by Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal,while individual teams of Imran Furkhan and Vindana Ariyawansa won the runner up and the third place. Seylan Bank also won the sector award of banks and financial sector.

Other Sector Awards were won by Ananda College (schools and educational institutes), Sri Lanka Insurance (public sector), Dialog Axiata (mercantile establishments) and Imran Furkhan’s team (individual team Sector).

Inspired by the resounding success of the project, the organisers aim to continue with the Global Commerce Quiz, next year as well.

(The writer was Quiz Master of the Governor’s Challenge trophy 2011)