Teen girls participating in Girls Incorporated of Chattanooga's GirlVenture Summer Career Academy wowed a panel of business people who served as judges for business plans the girls created over the last four weeks. Even though no investments were made at the event, each member of the two winning teams walked away with small.
GirlVenture, which is funded through the Legg Family Foundation and the George Johnson Trust, gives girls a first-hand, hands-on introduction to entrepreneurship, with instruction, visits with female entrepreneurs, tours of local businesses, and creation of their own business plan. It is one of four Summer Career Academies offered by Girls Inc. GirlVenture and Allies in Action Law Academy end June 30, while a print and broadcast journalism academy and a healthcare academy begin July 10.
"The girls not only studied entrepreneurship, they became driven like entrepreneurs to create these plans," said Girls Inc. CEO Maxine Bailey. "At the end of the day, they didn't want to leave. The staff was exhausted, but the girls wanted to keep working, especially as the date for the competition drew closer. Inspiring that kind of passion and commitment is what this program is all about, as much or more than it is about sharing information about how entrepreneurship works."
Former Girls Inc. board chair Jane Lupton, who presented the awards, noted: "I was president of the Girls Club many years ago when we were fighting for our existence. It is wonderful to see what the club has become and what it means in the lives of these young people and the excellent work the girls are doing."
Jasmine Ray and Aisha McGee received the Entrepreneurial Spirit award. This award is is given to a girl who embodies the spirit of an aspiring entrepreneur, has demonstrated an ability to juggle the demands of working with a group and managing her own time effectively, is a team player, and exhibits the Girls Inc. characteristics: strong, smart and bold. This year, the GirlVenture staff voted to recognize two girls for the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.
"Reach for the Stars," a day care center for mentally challenged children that included an organic foods menu, won for Best Written Plan. Team members included Maadiye Davies, Jamiecia Love, Dominique McCray, and Jabrelle Thomas.
"Cultural Styles of Beauty" won the Best Plan Presentation award. The team of Aisha McGee, Nadia Hill, Danielle Mische, and Saterria Heathington demonstrated their plan for a one-stop center that includes hair care, day spa and nail salon, as well as gourmet food and child care to keep their customers happy.
Other plans included "JCCD Productions," which combined a record label and dance studio, created by Cori Moon, Candice Douglas, Carla Rivers, and Derisha Robinson; "Inner Beauty Cosmetics," which manufactured and marketed cosmetics, by Hope Laster and Mykia Turner; and "Reach Creations," a business selling customizable fashions on the web, presented by Mia Upshaw, Jasmine Ray, Kim Wheeler, and Shaquilla Ball.
The judges commented on the high quality of all the teams' work. Rebecca Pobieglo of Smith Barney said, "It was very evident that hours of planning were involved. One thing I saw is that all of you had a plan of attack. You knew who your competition was."
Brian Harper of SunTrust said, "I saw a lot of passion here today. I wish I had this opportunity when I was that age, so I'm a little jealous."
Tekelia Kelly of Sisters in Business said, "I saw a lot of individual talent that was coordinated through good team work."
Michael Kull of The Pulse commented that "Everyone gets rave reviews for picking business ideas that really help people."