2014 Business Plan Competition

Sam’s Club $25,000 check presentation -- from left: Allison Malaney, Sigfredo Hernandez, Val Daniel and Josue Martinez.

Sam’s Club $25,000 check presentation — from left: Allison Malaney, Sigfredo Hernandez, Val Daniel and Josue Martinez.

Middle Schoolers Impress Judges with Solid Business Plans at Rider Event
DATE POSTED: Monday, August 11, 2014 4:03 AM EDT
By Kevin Wortham

Lawrenceville, NJ, August 11, 2014: In a special event made possible by a primary Sam’s Club grant and tremendous community, foundation and corporate support, 35 Mercer County middle school students and their family and supporters recently converged on the Rider University College of Business Administration’s Sweigart Hall Auditorium to see who could present the strongest entrepreneurial business plans.Sponsored by local nonprofit Minding Our Business (MOB) and judged by Mercer County business leaders and VIPs, the “2014 Sam’s Club Business Plan Competition” was held on July 30th to conclude MOB’s summer entrepreneurship program for low-income middle school students. Now in its 18th year, MOB’s summer program was held on the campus of Rider University from June 30th – August 1st and provides low-income Mercer County middle school students with entrepreneurship training, motivation and mentoring, as well as reading and math assistance to help facilitate their transition from middle to high school and avoid summer learning loss. All 35 participants developed an entrepreneurial venture and business plan, and the top 9 were invited to formally present at the Competition.“These kids worked with professional coaches to improve their presentation and public speaking skills — and the plans they presented were top notch!” states MOB Executive Director Kevin Wortham. “Even the judges, who included many experienced, successful business people and community members were amazed!”

The “Top 5 Winners” who presented plans for businesses including Sparkles & Sparkz, Bling,  Club Moree, Crazy T’s, Shine, Just Girly Girls and won prizes ranging from $25-$150 were:  Beyonce Layne, Briani Vasquez, Rashel Gonzalez and Chyna Higss (tied), Maria Vasquez, and Nazira Chatman. However, according to Wortham, all the students participating this summer were winners.

Layne, a 14-year-old student from Paul Robeson School in 2014, states, “All I can say is that I went into the MOB ring like a rookie and came out like a champ! MOB gave me an opportunity to create my own jewelry business, Sparkles and Sparkz, as well as a true purpose. MOB helps kids stay positive about their futures. It has been a great bridge to start crossing toward my future.”

In addition to Sam’s Club, MOB 2014 Summer Program funders included Educational Testing Service, The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Nordson Corporation Foundation, The Rose Group,  PSEG, AT&T, Janssen, Investors Bank, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Mildred-Rice Jordan, Bill & Jean Kutcher, State Farm, Lowenstein Sandler, New Jersey Manufacturers, Hopewell Valley Community Bank,  McCaffrey’s, Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Borden Perlman Salisbury Kelly, Rider University College of Business Administration, The Bank of Princeton, Thomas Edison State College and Chicken Holiday.Thanks to supporters, MOB was able to extend the program this summer from its typical 15 days to 20 days, enabling students to master additional skills and achieve greater summer learning gains, a best practice suggested by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). The NSLA recognized MOB’s program as one of the top summer programs in the country in both 2008 and 2009.

About Minding Our Business

Minding Our Business, Inc. (MOB) is a new independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that had operated for more than 16 years as a community outreach program of Rider University’s College of Business Administration. With a mission to change the lives of low income youth and adults and their communities through entrepreneurship, it is committed to helping urban students identify and work toward their dreams. MOB has trained and mentored more than 3,000 Trenton students in starting and running their own businesses since 1997. MOB currently operates a variety of after school and summer educational and mentoring programs focused on entrepreneurship and experiential learning. Each MOB program emphasizes business training, as well as math, reading, communication and life skills.

For further information about Minding Our Business, and/or to donate to support its efforts, please visit www.minding-our-business.com or call Executive Director Kevin Wortham at 609-731-9311.