Sarai Umansor Morales, a recent graduate of Palm Beach Gardens High School and a finalist in the 2023 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, has made a significant impact as a young entrepreneur through her participation in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program. In this Q&A, we will explore Sarai’s inspiring journey, from her humble beginnings in the NFTE program to her recent participation in The Challenge, a global business competition held in Barcelona. From day-to-day activities to the challenges and victories she encountered, Sarai provides an in-depth look into the life of a NFTE student.

Q: What inspired you to enroll in the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) program, and how has it influenced your perspective on entrepreneurship?

A: “I was a part of the Global Business and Entrepreneurship program at my school. During our junior year, we participated in the NFTE Curriculum (Entrepreneurship 1), where I earned my Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certification and took part in the Business Plan Competition. Learning about how to start a business, entrepreneurship, and being a world changer through innovation and leadership is something I have been able to further ignite by participating in NFTE.”

Q: Walk us through a typical day as a NFTE student. What classes or workshops did you attend, and what skills were you learning?

A: “I participated in several workshops that taught about the importance of mental health and positive thinking, the importance of a student’s voice and engagement in the community, and leadership and teamwork. The most memorable workshop I attended was the Master Chef Workshop, where we had to work as a team to decode recipes and then prepare the food. It felt great, as if we were on an actual TV show. We also visited the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, where we learned about their life-saving research, operations, and their impact in the country and the world.”

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of the NFTE program, and how have you overcome those challenges?

“To me, it was working on my business plan and pitch throughout my time participating in the Business Plan Challenge in 2023. Due to all the amazing support and mentors I received during that journey, like Tori Pappas from EverBank, I was able to further develop my pitch and business plan, which allowed me to place in the top 3 finalists in the national competition.”

Q: Can you share an example of a project or business idea you’ve been working on as part of the NFTE curriculum? What have you learned from this experience?

A: “My business idea, Fiery, is the first car rim business owned by women, aiming to be truly affordable and high-quality, featuring unique designs and made of repurposed aluminum waste to help reduce environmental pollution. I was able to further develop this idea through the NFTE program and even create my first prototype.”

This May 10 to 13, Sarai, along with her business partner Samira Rosado, represented NFTE and their sustainable car rim business at a business competition, The Challenge, hosted by EduCaixa in Barcelona.

Sarai and Samira collaborated with fellow young entrepreneurs from Europe who are committed to building businesses that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to honing their entrepreneurial skills, they had the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on their business and pitch it to a broader audience. They also enjoyed unique experiences, such as cooking with MasterChef stars and touring the city of Barcelona.

Q: What was the most memorable moment or highlight of your experience at The Challenge?

A: “Everything! As soon as we arrived at the hotel where the event was hosted, I was amazed by its space-themed decor and the warm welcome from everyone. What I truly enjoyed was interacting with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and experiences. I especially appreciated having a coach named Maitane, who was incredibly kind, supportive, and inspirational, and who guided me throughout the entire journey that week.

However, the most memorable moment for me was when Stephanie, my partner, and I took a cable car to one of the highest mountains in Barcelona, leading us to the famous Montserrat Monastery where we explored the historic buildings!”

Q: How did participating in the competition impact your personal growth and development as an entrepreneur?

A: “It truly gave me a new perspective and experience that I would’ve never imagined. My whole life, until that moment, I had lived in the U.S., and that’s all I knew. Going to Barcelona and interacting with several brilliant students from different countries who had awesome, world-changing ideas was amazing. In that moment, I felt that leadership, innovation, and business are everywhere. The opportunities to make an impact, either through business or innovation, extend beyond just the U.S.

That experience truly helped me feel that I belong in any space and that I can make a difference no matter where I am. It was a golden feeling for me, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in The Challenge and experience those rewarding emotions and feelings.”

Q: What was it like to compete against other young entrepreneurs from around the world, and what did you learn from them?

A: “Although we were not there to compete for a reward, but instead for the experience, it was amazing. Before the pitch competition began, I was able to work with several other teams. We exchanged advice, motivation, and heard each other’s pitches. To me, that was another golden moment because I was now hearing the perspectives of students who come from a whole different world and had so many new ideas and perspectives to share. Competing with these students from Portugal, Spain, and Peru was fascinating. Even though the language was different, we all shared something in common: the entrepreneurial mindset of wanting to make a difference through either a product or service. And that, to me, was an experience like no other.

Q: How do you believe the knowledge and skills you gained through NFTE will help you in your future career, and what are your long-term entrepreneurial goals?

A: “NFTE has been like a family to me, especially in the Southeast region where I’ve been able to connect with the team there and with wonderful people like Daniel Williams or Stephanie Alvarado from the Global team.

When I started my NFTE journey, I didn’t know what it meant to be an entrepreneur or how I would make a difference in the world. But through NFTE, I’ve learned and experienced so much — whether it was through the national pitch competition, participating in challenges, or simply taking part in NFTE coaching sessions and classroom curriculum. All of this has truly helped shape a world-changer in me. I now believe I can achieve the impossible and step into any room with confidence to speak to anyone.

NFTE has ignited a fire within me, allowing me to take initiative in any moment. I can genuinely say that participating in NFTE made me feel that I can be an entrepreneur, regardless of my background or experience. Because through NFTE, anything is possible.

Sarai’s journey with NFTE has been one of personal growth, skill development, and broadening perspectives. Through her participation in the program, she has not only gained valuable entrepreneurial knowledge but also learned the importance of leadership and teamwork. Her experiences at The Challenge in Barcelona and her interactions with fellow young entrepreneurs from around the world have further solidified her belief in the power of innovation to create positive change.

As Sarai moves forward in her career, there is no doubt that the experiences and lessons gained through NFTE will serve as a strong foundation for her future endeavors. With her passion, determination, and the support of the NFTE community, Sarai is poised to become a successful entrepreneur!