This summer the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has unveiled several new programs in our ongoing quest to bring entrepreneurship education to as many youth as possible. NFTE has partnered with the Citi Foundation as a part of their Pathways to Progress campaign to launch Make Your Job, a national program to help empower low-income youth to develop the business skills and entrepreneurial mindset needed to compete in the modern workforce. As a part of the Make Your Job initiative, NFTE hosted 18 BizCamps, a two week, intensive entrepreneurship program for students across the country. Each student in the BizCamps created their own original business idea and developed a plan for how to start, market, and grow their business. Our extraordinary partners with the Citi Foundation, along with your donations through GlobalGiving, have helped make these camps come to life for the 400 students who took part.
The BizCamps also included a business plan competition, where the students would pitch the ideas they worked on during the course to a panel of judges. The winning plans at each camp received seed capital to take their business outside of the classroom. Each of the winners also gained entry into the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (NYEC) this fall. At the NYEC each of the BizCamp teams will compete with other students from the 11 NFTE Program Offices and 6 Partner Programs for the grand prize of $25,000 in start-up capital and prizes for their business. Each of the teams is spending this summer refining their plan, practicing their pitch, and of course, starting their business. The 2014 NYEC will take place on October 9th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (this represents the first time the Challenge is in the Bay Area).
One of the young entrepreneurs who won his BizCamp was Miles J., who won Citi’s Los Angeles BizCamp Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Truly taking the name “Make Your Job” to the next level, Miles created Next Generation Financials during his two-week program. His mobile app aims to help low-income families that often can’t afford private financial advisors. Next Generation Financials allows for basic financial planning, budgeting, and business news all through a smartphone. Before entering NFTE’s BizCamps, Miles wasn’t sure what to expect from the course but was excited to be studying any topics relating to business. Although he traveled more than an hour each way to attend class, the coursework inspired him. His love of math and business financials led him to create something he is excited about. In the future Miles plans to attend college, and one day be the CEO of his own company.
Another student-run business with the hopes of winning the NYEC is ULO, or Unique Locker Organizers. Developed by Anyira B. and Britney R. of New York’s Westchester suburbs, they drew from their personal experience in school to create their business. They reasoned that the more organized one’s locker is, the more organized one can be for class. ULO is a device that allows students to easily keep track of all the textbooks, notebooks, and classroom supplies necessary for high school. Anyira and Britney are even starting a social outreach program, as they plan to donate two purple Unique Locker Organizers during Bullying Prevention Month in October. Both girls plan to attend college in the future, and cite the NFTE BizCamp as a key experience to have in advance of business school.
Other teams that will represent NFTE BizCamps in the National Finals include The Abyss, an online artistic community founded by Jenna A. and Meyahueltzin A. of Chicago, Distinguished Designs, a company from Ronnell F. of Mount Vernon, New York, which makes customized, fashionable, lapel pins, and the student bike sharing program Acellabike, run by Baltimore students Maya C., and siblings Chris and Kayla S. These teams, and the others from NFTE’s Program Offices and regional partners, will have their presentations ready in the Bay Area on October 9th for the final rounds of the competition. The final three will present their business plans to a distinguished panel of judges, who will have the privilege of crowning the winner.
Spring at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) means it is time for the students who have completed our youth entrepreneurship course to present the business plans they have been planning for months. The different NFTE offices have each held their Regional Youth Business Plan Challenges, choosing two winning teams to compete in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge this October. Each participant in the Regional Challenges took the NFTE program to learn lessons on entrepreneurship including opportunity recognition, marketing, finance, and product development. Along the way, working with their NFTE certified teachers and real-world entrepreneurs and leaders as mentors, they formulated an idea for a business based on what they had learned in the NFTE curriculum. The Regional Challenges start in the classrooms rounds move into semi-finals and beyond. Each round gives the students a chance to hone their presentation skills and hear the advice of the local entrepreneurs and businesspeople who serve as competition judges.2014 will mark the first time the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is taking place in the Bay Area. On October 9th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, the regional winners will compete for the $25,000 grand prize in seed capital for their business and scholarships for the young entrepreneurs. The companies they have started show off their incredible business acumen. Bobbie R. will be competing near home soil, having advanced out of the NFTE Bay Area competition. The founder of Apparel of Champions, Bobbie seeks to make customized cheer outfits for school sports teams. Incorporating unique designs onto t-shirts and hoodies, Apparel seeks to capitalize on a sports crazy world (last year’s winner, T&J Soccer, produced customized soccer shin guards). Another California team, this one representing NFTE Los Angeles, will also be aiming to take home the grand prize. Joshua F. and Eddy G. are the co-founders of Time’s Up, a dental health company. They have created a special brand of color changing toothpaste. Incorporating an element of social responsibility into their business plan, Joshua and Eddy have made it a goal to make dental hygiene fun for young children. They hope the playful aspect of Time’s Up can help do just that.Just outside of New York City, the Westchester County Regional Champions hail from Yonkers, New York. Fatelinda K. and Naryis R. have turned their passion for cosmetics into a business idea that has seen them through to the National Challenge. Their product, the Lindnar Hair Mask, is completely organic, and made with an avocado base. A dynamic team, they hope that their pitch to the judges can help them get that much closer to the venture capital and scholarships available this October. These three teams, and the others from NFTE’s Program Offices and regional partners, will have their presentations ready in the Bay Area on October 9th for the final rounds of the competition. The final three will present their business plans to a distinguished panel of judges, who will have the privilege of crowning the winner. In the meantime they will be sharpening their presentations, working on their 60 second elevator pitches, and, of course, continuing to grow their businesses. In a few months all the students will have had the experience of a lifetime, and one individual or team will go home with $25,000!
This spring, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) will honor many of the students who have received the life-changing entrepreneurship training our program provides. NFTE is active in 18 states, as well as the District of Columbia, through our 11 program offices and numerous licensed partners. Outside of the U.S. NFTE’s international partner programs operate in an additional 10 countries, serving thousands of students each year. This reach allows NFTE’s programs to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in youth around the world. Our 2014 Global Gala exemplifies this diversity, as each program office and partner sends one student to Washington, D.C. to be honored as a Global Young Entrepreneur of 2014.
Each of the Global Young Entrepreneurs of 2014 has created a business during the NFTE course. Their stories are as fascinating and unique as their new ventures. For example, Arvind N. of San Jose, California created the smart phone app WalkIn. The service provides an easy to use interface for restaurants to organize customers by their arrival time and party number. The app sends text messages at the restaurant’s behest when a customer’s table is ready, cutting down on the need for vibrating buzzers or inefficient check-ins. Arvind has said he hopes to include new features for the app soon, including giving the restaurants logistical data on those waiting. After completing his course in NFTE Bay Area, Arvind plans to give back to the community by using the capabilities of WalkIn to organize a yearly food drive for the homeless in his community.
Another Global Young Entrepreneur of 2014 is Lang D. of North Miami, Florida. Propelled by a NFTE mentor to consider a project he felt so passionate about “that you’d be willing to do it for free”, Lang focused on clothing design and fashion. After graduating from NFTE South Florida’s program in 2009, Lang started The Newsies Clothing Co. LLC, a clothing line that is focused on the urban movement. Particular inspiration is drawn from the 1890s era of newspaper boys. The styles of The Newsies Clothing Co. are sometimes drawn from local artists Lang collaborates with. Demonstrating the drive of a true entrepreneur, Lang continues to run his company while holding a full-time job and attending the Miami Ad School.
Juggling the difficult task of managing a new company while enrolled in school is not confined to NFTE’s American students however. The three Global Young Entrepreneurs of 2014 from NFTE’s London-affiliate, the Network for Teaching Young Entrepreneurs, each attend different universities while still finding time for the business they co-founded. Adeola D., Kofi D., and Tyrell W. met during a five day summer business course where they were placed in the same group project. The result was Antiks Ltd., a company which solves the problem of misplaced household objects. Their main product is a chip called The Bleep Finder that attaches to easily misplaced items. When a remote is pushed, The Bleep Finder makes a noise to indicate where a lost object is. The three students have gone on to separate schools, but continue to advance their business opportunity all the same.
The Global Gala on April 24th in Washington, D.C. will honor these young entrepreneurs, whose businesses are possible thanks in part to supporters like you. The donations NFTE receives from GlobalGiving have gone towards our classroom programs, helping new students dare to dream of a brighter future. Arvind, Lang, Adeola, Kofi, Tyrell, and the other Global Young Entrepreneurs of 2014 have a big night ahead of them, as NFTE celebrates another successful year of support for entrepreneurship training for at-risk youth worldwide.