Young CEOs to Compete for Title of Best Young Entrepreneur, Cash and Prizes at NFTE's 2012 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, Presented by MasterCard

NFTE to Kick off 25th Year Anniversary Celebration

Sep 27, 2012, 09:00 ET from Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The brightest young entrepreneurial minds will gather and compete at global non-profit, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)'s, 2012 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by MasterCard, in association with Kathryn W. Davis.  On October 11th at The Times Center in New York City, 37 student finalists representing 34 businesses from around the country will contend for top honors and for the chance to win over $25,000 in cash and prizes to help bring their business ideas to life or advance their education.

"For 25 years, NFTE has played a pivotal role in entrepreneurship education using a proven program that engages young people to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and is committed  to empowering youth to imagine and experience the promise of the future," said Steve Mariotti, founder of NFTE. "Thanks to support from sponsors like MasterCard, we are able to witness the future of entrepreneurship at this year's National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where our business savvy teens and leaders of tomorrow, will present their innovative ideas for new products and services."

The competition finalists, all NFTE regional winners from last school year, were required to develop and present original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies in middle or high school.  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.  The NFTE curriculum reinforces students' critical thinking skills and provides them with tools to help them take control of their futures and think entrepreneurially.

"MasterCard is committed to supporting NFTE in its mission of providing teens from low income communities with a program that keeps them inspired to stay in school and to plan for a successful life," said Patricia Devereux, group head, Corporate Philanthropy & Citizenship at MasterCard. "Thanks to NFTE, these impressive students now have the potential to not only create jobs for themselves, but to also support the expansion of our global economy. We are honored to help make a difference in these young entrepreneurs' lives."

The finalists from 13 different states will compete in morning and afternoon rounds in front of judges including top entrepreneurs and executives from 40 companies including Bad Boy Worldwide,  SAP America Inc., and E*TRADE Financial Corp.  The top three will go onto contend for the title of "Best Young Entrepreneur" by presenting their business plans for an audience of 400 invited guests and a distinguished panel of judges:

  • Kevin Liles, Founder and CEO, KWL Enterprises
  • Shaun Osher, Founder and CEO, CORE
  • Deborah Serianni, Global Head, Consumer Marketing, MasterCard Worldwide
  • Connie Tang, President and CEO, Princess House

The following three students are examples of the 2012 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge competitors:

  • Zenab Ali, 15, Natural Hues (San Jose, CA)
    When Zenab Ali signed up for the NFTE course, she didn't realize at first that it was the same class her older sister had taken several years ago. Zenab decided not to tell her parents unless she, like her sister, won the business plan competition. Zenab won with Natural Hues, an organic, henna-based hair color for men and women. Before NFTE, Zenab never imagined that business was in her future, but now she's focusing on getting her website up, settling on a bulk manufacturer for her packaging, and acquiring the necessary licenses.
  • Vincent Quigg, 18, TechWorld (Downey, CA)
    Vincent Quigg was always passionate about technology, looking up to companies like Apple and working at Best Buy. Because of that, Vincent created TechWorld, a personal electronics repair and customization service, specializing in Apple products, for his NFTE course. He also plans on being an official drop-off location for cell phones for soldiers and to donate a percentage of sales to One Laptop Per Child.
  • Adam Zerbst, 17, Adam's All Natural (Charleston, SC)
    Adam Zerbst has wanted to start a business for as long as he can remember, but never knew what he would get into. What it turned out to be is an all-natural trail mix called Adam's All Natural. Adam, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, also plans to expand his line into snack bars.

The 2012 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge grand-prize winner will take home a total of $25,000 in venture capital and prizes, including a $2,500 technology suite from Microsoft, $2,500 of business travel, and a $5,000 Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship, sponsored by GlobalHue. Two runners-up will each win $5,000 and two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines.

Finalists will also film an elevator pitch video as part of the NFTE Online Elevator Pitch Challenge, presented by E*TRADE Bank.  To vote for their favorite elevator pitch, members of the public can visit  from September 4 to October 9.  The winner of the pitch challenge will receive $2,500 on the evening of the National Challenge with two runners-up receiving $500 each.

Additionally, the event will also feature a live mentoring session between philanthropist John H. McCall McBain and NFTE graduate Andres Cardona of Miami, which will be facilitated by Tom Hudson of PBS' Nightly Business Report. In honor of NFTE's 25th Anniversary, the event will also host the inaugural Mariotti Venture Award Pitch Challenge, at which up to ten NFTE graduates with fully operating businesses will compete for an additional $25,000 in venture capital. The winner of this new challenge will be chosen by a panel of judges in combination with a live action vote by the audience.

MasterCard philanthropic efforts are focused on furthering financial inclusion through entrepreneurship. We believe that by supporting entrepreneurship we are helping individuals achieve positive economic outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities.  Through our core competencies, our technology, our people, and our charitable giving, we make a difference in people's lives around the world

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 18 U.S. states and 11countries around the world. Entrepreneurs are a powerful driver of economic growth and NFTE sows the seeds of innovation in students worldwide. For more information, visit

About MasterCard Worldwide
MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard's products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews,join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog and subscribe for the latest news.

SOURCE Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship