NACCE Honors Student Entrepreneurs at 14th Annual Conference
The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges, has honored outstanding student entrepreneurs at its 14th Annual Conference, underway now in Sacramento.
The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges, has honored outstanding student entrepreneurs at its 14th Annual Conference, underway now in Sacramento. The student awards, made possible by donations from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and the C. Lowell Harriss Scholarship Fund, are given to enrolled students who have demonstrated innovative and creative accomplishments in businesses they are operating while attending college.
Following is a brief summary of their accomplishments as highlighted by their nominators.
1st Place - $2,500 cash prize plus a $750 travel stipend to attend NACCE2016: Tac Mohamed, Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida
Tac graduated from the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management Program. He is the founder of Toppy Toddler, USA, a company that he started as a single father of two young children, earning a low wage at his job and studying as a full-time student. The business is a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of waterproof baby bibs, and it all stemmed from when he was feeding his toddler four years ago: “as I sat watching a hailstorm of rice and beans plummeting to the ground as my 18-month-old son sat joyfully eating his dinner.” In utter frustration, he began using his own tee shirts as a makeshift bib that extended from under the toddler’s chin to underneath the bowl. It worked! Tac had an idea that solved a problem. He decided to return to school and get the business together. Tac knew nothing about sewing or fabric and was not sure where or how he was going to sell the product. “My college experience is what opened the doors and opened my mind. I took advantage of every program I could,” he said. “A number of professors guided me at first, and then I participated in the Fullbridge Program with a full scholarship.” Next, Tac joined the college’s Inaugural Center for Research and Transformative Entrepreneurship program, part of the IDEA Center. This experience allowed him to network with students and staff who were driven like him. He came to know and form the company’s identity, and today his business has grown to $9,000 per month in revenues with a niche in B2B sales to childcare centers. His company is forming a wholesale sales system and hopes to increase product offerings to include different styles of bibs and other products specifically for daycare centers. Tac works with two independent contractors and plans to increase inventory with this award.
2nd Place - $1,500 cash prize plus a $750 travel stipend to attend NACCE 2016: Amanda Gordon, College of Marin, Kentfield, California
“You just may see Amanda Gordon on the Cover of Entrepreneur Magazine in the next several years. At age 16, she is an accomplished businesswoman, entrepreneur and advocate for fair business practices. Amanda is a high school student who enrolled in two college classes: Entrepreneurship and Introduction to Business. She is a graphic designer, photographer and jewelry designer and you can see examples of her work on her website at www.californiagem.wix. A natural entrepreneur, Amanda drew up a knockout business plan and entered the college pitch competition placing first by steamrolling her competitors with her California Gem business. At her presentation, what struck the judges, aside from her incredible artistry and talent was her genuine passion to promote fair trade jewelry. She made it clear that she plans to educate consumers and do her part to clean up the supply chain in the jewelry industry. We learned from Amanda that most gold is mined by child laborers in Africa, Asia and South America under abhorrent conditions that coupled with exploitive labor practices, leave the local landscape scarred and polluted. Amanda vows to change this. This social entrepreneur not only attends high school all day and college at night, she also posts a 4.0 grade point average, speaks fluent French, runs track, practices yoga, works part-time, crafts fine jewelry and manages her online business. She intends to change the industry. Amanda negotiated that in lieu of a final exam, she would revitalize the college’s Business Club and stage an event to raise money to help educate the child laborers in Africa. She recruited classmates, sponsors, and underwriters, engaged yoga instructors, designed tee shirts and orchestrated a half-day fundraiser during finals week, raising over $1,000. Amanda is a millennial entrepreneur powerhouse with purpose and passion.”
3rd place winner -$750 cash prize plus a $750 travel stipend to attend NACCE 2016: Ezekiel MacMillan, Haywood Community College, Clyde, North Carolina
“Ezekiel MacMillan is the embodiment of the Entrepreneurial Mindset. After visiting clothing store after clothing store, and leaving empty handed, Zeke decided to create his own clothing line. He fearlessly curated a USA-made line that is representative of the personal style and local values of area youth, a consistently underserved market. He launched Don Raven Clothing Co. in early 2015, in Fort Mills, SC in true brick-and-click fashion with a strong ecommerce site and a team of nearly 12 teenagers helping with everything from design to modeling to photography. Marked by the signature Don Raven Antlers, a symbol of nobility and untamed beauty, his pieces are a combination of art and ability, a different take on Southern style with a high attention to detail. Post launch, Zeke and his family moved to the Waynesville, NC area. Looking to stabilize and grow his venture in this new market, he reached out to the SBC at Haywood Community College. It has been a pleasure to work with Zeke and watch his fledgling business soar,” said Katy Gould, director of the HCC SBC. ‘From pricing to financial projections to the implementation of a grassroots marketing campaign to promote the launch of his spring line, he has shown relentless drive and persistence all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. This home-schooled dual enrollment student will graduate with an Associate in Science Degree, Associate in Arts Degree, and a certificate in Business. Zeke is an entrepreneur at heart and his quest for knowledge is contagious. He is an excellent representative of the college and the entrepreneurial spirit within. Don Raven Clothing Company may be found online via DonRaven.com and is now available for purchase in the Highland Hiker.
About AIER & the C. Lowell Harriss Scholarship Fund
The American Institute for Economic Research provides independent research and critical analysis of economic and financial issues. AIER researchers provide ordinary people with expert advice and insight they can use to improve their lives and communities. AIER established a scholarship Fund in memory of C. Lowell Harriss, an economist whose groundbreaking theories on land tax reform led to a widening of public spaces and improved quality of life in the U.S. and beyond. He taught economics at Columbia University for 43 years, from 1938 to 1981. For more information on AIER, visit https://www.aier.org.
The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is an organization of educators, administrators, presidents and entrepreneurs, focused on inciting entrepreneurship in their community and on their campus. NACCE has two main goals: 1. Empower the college to approach the business of running a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset, and 2. Grow the community college’s role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem.
For more information, visit http://www.nacce.com.
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NACCE has over 300 member colleges, representing nearly 2,000 members and approximately 465,000 students.