NEW YORK, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Nia Froome, from Valley Stream, N.Y., was crowned champion of the 2010 OppenheimerFunds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by Kathryn W. Davis, on October 5 at a New York City ceremony following a day-long series of competitive presentations. A 17-year-old student at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, N.Y., Froome won the $10,000 grand prize for her business, Mamma Nia's Vegan Bakery, trumping 28 finalists from around the country. 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.
Froome is a member of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an international non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship in low-income communities, which helped hone her business plan and prepare for the competition. An amateur baker and cook, Froome 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 found Mamma Nia's Vegan Bakery.
After the all-day competition in New York, first runner-up honors and $5,000 went to Nina Velic and Belma Ahmetovic of Hartford, Conn. for their computer services company, Beta Bytes, and second runner-up and $3,500 was awarded to Crystal Vo of San Jose, Calif. for her cake ball company, Sweet Tooth Bites. And the winner of the inaugural NFTE Elevator Pitch Challenge, Presented by E*TRADE Bank was Steven Gordon of Brooklyn, N.Y., who took home $2,500 in cash and two round-trip plane tickets donated by Southwest Airlines. Each of the top-three finalists will meet with President Obama at the White House later this month.
"I continue to be amazed by the drive, passion and creativity of the NFTE teen entrepreneurs who make it to the national competition, and this year is no exception," said Steve Mariotti, founder of NFTE. "It's a great pleasure to honor the next generation of entrepreneurs who are taking control of their own futures and working to maximize their personal potentials. I look forward to following all of their careers as they continue to pursue their education and entrepreneurial dreams."
"In economic times like these we're reminded of the importance of education and having the skills to create opportunities for ourselves," said Amy Rosen, president and CEO of NFTE. "Our mission at NFTE is to inspire young people to stay in school, teach them to recognize business opportunities and provide them with the tools to plan for successful futures. Thanks to supporters like OppenheimerFunds and Kathryn W. Davis, we are excited for the opportunity to fulfill our mission and recognize so many amazing young entrepreneurs from around the country."
First Runner-up: Nina Velic and Belma Ahmetovic, Beta Bytes, Hartford, Conn.
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, Sweet Tooth Bites, San Jose, Calif.
Crystal was inspired to create Sweet Tooth Bites when her NFTE teacher gave the class an assignment to invent a new kind of sweet or candy. 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 home from New York. She gives great credit to her NFTE coach who not only prepared her well for competition, but also helped open doors for her at her biggest customer to date – Intel.
The 31 competition 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 and avoid the lure of the streets. 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.
About the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
Too many young people today drop out of school and struggle to break the cycle of poverty. Since 1987, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has been inspiring young people to pursue educational opportunities, start their own businesses, and succeed in life. By providing entrepreneurship education programs relevant to the real world, NFTE empowers students to own their educations in and out of the classroom and to find their own path to success. Hundreds of thousands of students have discovered opportunity all around them through entrepreneurship via thousands of certified educators worldwide. NFTE supports active programs in 21 states and 10 other countries through our network of program offices and licensed partners. Entrepreneurs are a powerful driver of economic growth and NFTE sows the seeds of innovation in students worldwide. For more information, visit www.nfte.com.
About OppenheimerFunds, Inc.
OppenheimerFunds, Inc. is one of the nation's largest and most respected investment management companies and is widely recognized as a leader in educating and empowering investors. To date, OppenheimerFunds, Inc., including subsidiaries and controlled affiliates, managed more than $195 billion in assets, including mutual funds having more than six million shareholder accounts.
Shares of mutual funds are not deposits or obligations of any bank, are not guaranteed by any bank, are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency, and involve investment risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. The products and services of OppenheimerFunds, Inc. and its controlled affiliates include: mutual funds, hedge funds or funds, qualified retirement plans for individuals and corporations, investment management for institutions and sub-advisory services. For more information, visit www.oppenheimerfunds.com.
SOURCE Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship