A pair of student entrepreneurs from Baltimore are preparing to hit the road for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Challenge, an enterprise sponsored by the Citi Foundation and Microsoft.
Nailah Taylor of Saint Francis Academy and Crisaly De Los Santos, a former student at National Academy Foundation who is now a freshman Baltimore City Community College, won first and second place spots respectively in the NFTE Baltimore Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, a competition that took place in cities across the country and featured thousands of student participants.
Both demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset— the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges, according to Steve Legacy, director of the Baltimore and Washington region for NFTE, an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup.
“NFTE brings a wide array of entrepreneurship experiences and opportunities to the students of Baltimore. It’s incredibly inspiring to watch them start a NFTE program, unsure about the concept of entrepreneurship, to watching them evolve into confident young entrepreneurs; developing, promoting, and potentially selling their own products and services,” Legacy said. “Our students are innovative, determined and resilient, just like the spirit of Baltimore.”
Earlier this month, the students presented and defended their business plans before a highly touted panel of judges and an audience featuring top business and school leaders.
The winners will represent Baltimore Metro at the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on October 12, 2017 in New York.
At the event in the Big Apple, 41 young entrepreneurs representing 32 businesses will demonstrate their command of the entrepreneurial mindset as they present and defend their business plans to a distinguished panel of judges.
Participants will share a prize pool of nearly $35,000, with the winner receiving $10,000.
Nailah, a senior who is an active member of the student body serving as senior class treasurer, varsity cheerleading captain and a varsity volleyball player, won $1,500 at the regional contest for her plan for “the Bundle Box,” which helps women successfully store their hair extensions.
Officials called the Baltimore student resilient, hard working and creative when it comes to reaching her goals.
Nailah credits her experiences at Saint Frances Academy and taking the NFTE class for teaching her not to give up even when it seems something won’t work out, if she feels alone or can’t see the finish line.
While creating The Bundle Box, a satin lined storage container for hair extensions, she says she ran into many obstacles and challenges that caused self-doubt and second thoughts.
“Taking NFTE was hard work and a true struggle but you learn so much, if you stick to the process,” said Nailah, who plans to attend college and major in computer science or business.
Crisaly, a freshman at Baltimore City Community College, majoring in General Studies, won $1,000 at the regional level for her creation “i-translation,” a mobile app that assists English Language Learners with features not found in other apps.
Her company, i-translation, creates mobile apps that she says will help propel English as a Second Language (ESL) students to the next level by providing them with the resources, activities and linguistic skills they need to be academically successful.
As an ESL student herself, Crisaly says she knows the difficulty of trying to learn English, while trying to master the content of different courses. Helping her community is her main priority and she believes i-translation is just one way to do it.
“NFTE has taught me that hard work pays off in the long run, sometimes I want to give up, but I have to find a new reason to stay motivated every day,” she said.