NEW YORK – October 11, 2010 – Four students, all winners of the 2010 Oppenheimer Funds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by Kathryn W. Davis, will meet with President Obama on Tuesday, October 12 in the Oval Office, to discuss their business plans and aspirations for the future.
Nia Froome, a 17-year-old student from Valley Stream, NY, won the grand prize for her business, Mamma Nia’s Vegan Bakery. Inspired by her mother’s battle with breast cancer, she says she plans to donate a portion of her winnings to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in addition to investing in her business and education.
Bosnian immigrants Zermina Velic and Belma Ahmetovic, from Hartford, CT, took First Runner-Up for their computer services company, Beta Bytes.
Crystal Vo of San Jose, CA, won Second Runner-Up for her cake ball company, Sweet Tooth Bites, and finally, winner of NFTE’s first Online Elevator Pitch Challenge, presented by E*TRADE Bank, was Steven Gordon of Brooklyn, NY for his business, TattooID. This prestigious annual Challenge is organized by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an international non-profit organization that inspires young people from low-income communities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures.
The 32 finalists, all business plan competition winners from their respective regions, were required to develop and present original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies at school based on curriculum created by NFTE. As part of their coursework, NFTE students receive hands-on training in launching a business and learn the real-world relevance of math, reading and writing to their businesses. NFTE studies reinforce students’ critical thinking skills and provide them with tools to help them control their futures. Scientific research by Harvard University has shown that youth who are taught entrepreneurship are more likely to be focused on academics and develop leadership aspirations.
Said Amy Rosen, president and CEO of NFTE, “Skills learned through entrepreneurship education—such as problem solving, supply and demand, and negotiation—are critical to success in the 21st century global economy. When young people learn to see opportunity amid obstacles, by applying entrepreneurial skills to real-world scenarios, they are armed with resilient tools that will increase their success in college and beyond. At NFTE, we believe that entrepreneurship education can serve as a key strategy for ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a successful career.”
Winner: Nia Froome, 17, Mama Nia’s Vegan Bakery, Valley Stream, NY
As an amateur baker and cook, Nia began altering recipes for her vegan parents when her mother gave up meat after her cancer diagnosis 10 years ago. After reading about the founder of Mrs. Field’s cookies as part of her NFTE class, Froome was inspired to combine her passion for vegan baking and cookies to establish Mamma Nia’s Vegan Bakery. With the $10,000 in prize money that Froome won, a portion will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in addition to investing in her business and education.
First Runner-up: Zermina Velic, 17, and Belma Ahmetovic, 17, Beta Bytes, Hartford, CT
Velic and Ahmetovic are no longer chasing the America dream. They caught it in May when they took first place in NFTE New England’s regional competition for their business, Beta Bytes, a foreign language and culturally-sensitive computer repair service they started through the NFTE program at their high school. Both teens were just a few months old when their families fled Bosnia after their homes came under attack during the Bosnian War. Currently serving family and friends, Velic and Ahmetovic hope to grow Beta Bytes to serve their entire community. Next up are the Albanian and Latino markets. After graduating high school with top honors, Velic and Ahmetovic both hope to attend the University of Connecticut.
Second Runner-up: Crystal Vo, 17, Sweet Tooth Bites, San Jose, CA,
Crystal was inspired to create Sweet Tooth Bites when her NFTE teacher gave the class an assignment to invent a new kind of confectionery. When Crystal presented her idea for mini cake bites, her NFTE teacher encouraged her to pursue the venture. Crystal’s mini cake bites, or cake balls, quickly gained popularity among her family and friends. But Sweet Tooth Bite’s most notable success to date was an order from Intel for 2,000 cake balls, which she plans to fulfill when she returns