Alexis Valentine Wins DSLBD’S Youth Employment Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition
(Washington, DC) - On August 14, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) presented the Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition, where young entrepreneurs involved in the agency’s nine-week Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Experience pitched business plans to a panel of judges from the local business community.
DSLBD Director Lee Smith presented awards to the top three finishers. Alexis Valentine, a junior at Duke Ellington School for Performing Arts, won the first place prize, which was a new laptop donated by the nonprofit Technology Playground and a Visa gift card courtesy of DSLBD. Valentine’s business, DASH (Disabled And Seniors’ Helper), provides a personal concierge service to senior citizens and disabled individuals living in Wards 7 and 8.
Second place went to Ubochioma “Obi” Ukaegbu, whose Kids’ Palace business distributes lead and toxin-free children’s toys, and third place went to Brenda Reyes, whose Amor for Cakes is a Latin-flavored, nutritious cake business. Both are students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School and were awarded Visa gift cards courtesy of DSLBD and Nationals baseball tickets courtesy of the Executive Office of the Mayor.
Other competitors presented a sporting goods line for District school athletic teams; specialized products for pets; a customizable t-shirt line; a children’s toy distributor; and ‘green’ t-shirt line.
All participants were rated on the following criteria: speaking ability; passion; feasibility of business; originality of idea; ability to handle the Q&A session smoothly; and financial literacy.
Judges for the day of semi-finals and finals rounds were: Jason Cross, DC Chamber of Commerce Foundation; Kathryn Speakman of Cardinal Bank; Julie Carney, National Federation of Independent Business Owners/Youth Entrepreneurship Foundation; Keith Forney, FEI Construction; Duane Kokesch, DSLBD; Deric Mims, SunTrust Bank; Nichole Sterling, Hensel Phelps Construction Co.; and Verice White, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
The Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Experience was designed by DSLBD’s Training and Education Division as part of the District’s Summer Youth Employment Program in order to teach entrepreneurial-minded youth about the ins and outs of business ownership and give them the tools to set themselves on the path to starting their own businesses and wealth creation. Participants are being taught by Lonell Johnson, a NFTE certified teacher and founder and director of Technology Playground.