Imagine...

if we could activate the entrepreneurial mindset of an entire generation.

NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth from under-resourced communities to ensure their success and to create a more vibrant society.

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Stories

Jasmine Lawrence

“I am an outlier. The number of African-American women in business and in tech is still incredibly small. I prevailed because I was able to develop the entrepreneurial mindset at a young age.”

When Jasmine completed a NFTE BizCamp and pitched her first business at the camp’s final competition, she didn’t place first, second or third. But what she won was even more valuable: confidence in her ability to start a new enterprise. ​

At the age of 13, Jasmine launched Eden Bodyworks, and she has grown her business into a multi-million dollar company with products on the shelves of Walmart, Walgreens, and other leading retailers.​

Jasmine also has a passion for technology. She studied engineering in college and graduate school. She’s since worked for tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft as well as Softbank, a robotics innovator—all while continuing to run Eden Bodyworks.

Kaitlyn Smith

“If it weren’t for NFTE, I wouldn’t be interested in entrepreneurship or frankly, business. I love that this organization has pushed me past my limits and empowered me as a young businesswoman.”

Kaitlyn began her entrepreneurial journey in her senior year in high school, when she launched Kandily Kait. But it wasn’t until she participated in NFTE’s Startup Summer Program that growing her blog transformed into her business passion. ​

Trying to find a way to give back, Kaitlyn entered the NFTE Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, where she had the opportunity to work with rising NFTE students and positively influence them by fostering their entrepreneurial spirit.​

Kaitlyn is currently completing a finance degree at Georgia State University and interning at Spot Development Group, a computer software startup. She serves on the executive board of Alpha Omicron Pi and is hard at work re-branding her blog.

Timothy Perez

“By putting your innovative thoughts into actions, you can improve yourself and make money, and you can also give back to the community where you came from.”

Born to immigrant parents from Guam, Timothy is grateful for their decision to move to the U.S. It was here, through a NFTE course, that Timothy developed the entrepreneurial mindset. ​

NFTE sparked his interests in marketing, finance and management. NFTE also helped him capitalize on his web development skills. Since participating in the NFTE Entrepreneurship Fellows Program in the Bay Area, Timothy has remained connected to NFTE year after year, first serving as a BizCamp teaching assistant and later interning at NFTE’s Philadelphia program office.​

Timothy is currently studying media and communications at Temple University while working as a Growth Marketer for Addacity, a marketing and advertising firm.

Ivannia De Alba

A 2004 NFTE alum, Ivannia has been working for Facebook for over 5 years in a variety of roles. Before shifting to WhatsApp, she spearheaded business strategy for the Small-to-Medium Business channel of Facebook, was the lead for global training, vendor management and quality, and worked as a finance manager. Currently, she leads global cross-functional teams within WhatsApp to gain alignment and drive business decisions.​

Ivannia graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles earning a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies with a specialization in Latin America & South East Asia. Ivannia is passionate about helping impoverished communities and, as an advocate for global entrepreneurship education, she is bridging the gap to ensure that opportunities exist for underprivileged youth around the world.​

Ivannia has been actively involved with NFTE for the last 15 years, during which time she has held various leadership roles, including holding a seat on the board of the NFTE Bay Area Young Executive Council.

Cheyenne Sookoo

“Be ambitious. You don’t need a fan club to achieve your goals, just be your own motivation and look at the benefits of the end result.”

Growing up with an artist for a mother, Cheyenne was introduced to paints and canvas at a young age. Then she, too, discovered a passion and talent for art and followed in her mother’s footsteps. As an already established artist in New York, Cheyenne developed Events on Canvas as an extension of her original art business: Paints by Chey. The idea was sparked from her experience painting live in-store as Blick’s Rising Artist, which was daunting the first time but became an activity she loves.​

Cheyenne graduated from Brooklyn High School of the Arts where she double majored in instrumental music and art. She is taking a gap year to work on her business and volunteer. She has already received many requests for her services.

Dagim Girma

“NFTE provides you with opportunities and experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. It helps you to understand more about yourself and skills that you were unaware of.”

When Dagim’s family immigrated to America from Ethiopia, they faced challenges upon arrival. Dagim’s experience at NFTE helped him to see himself as a leader. While participating in a NFTE program, Dagim created a social platform by youth sports fans for youth sports fans, attracting thousands of users. Now he runs Ventur Hub, a platform connecting entrepreneurs, while studying Entrepreneurship and Computer Science at Babson College.​

Dagim has interned at EY and worked as a summer analyst at Goldman Sachs where he now works full-time. He was also named 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Scholar.

Kaina Lisibach

“NFTE has opened so many doors for me. It altered my entire trajectory, propelled my professional career, and supplied me with the skills that have proved to be invaluable in life.”

Kaina Lisibach was born and raised in Miami, Florida. It was during her first NFTE class that her desire for philanthropic action and love for books inspired her to start One Page Closer, which provides fully-stocked bookcases to children in low-income communities. Later, when Kaina participated in a NFTE Startup Summer Program, her small community service project was transformed into a full-blown business venture. ​

Kaina decided to leave behind her plans to study Political Science and pursue a degree in Business. After facing several challenges and applying to fifteen universities, she was offered and accepted the Diversity Leadership Scholarship at Babson College, a four-year, full-tuition award worth $50,000.​

Kaina has been featured on Biz Kids, thanks to NFTE, and is excited to give back to NFTE through the NFTE Entrepreneurship Fellows Program this summer.

Carlos Feitosa

“To be an entrepreneur, you have to be open to other ideas. It takes time, dedication and knowledge. ”

Growing up on a farm in Brazil, Carlos was surrounded by natural products, but after moving to the U.S., Carlos started to notice developing problems with his skin from using brand-name products. The idea for all-natural Shine Soaps was born when Carlos took his first NFTE course in high school. Carlos now sells online and in-person through sales representatives, and he sees more growth ahead when he’s able to get his product into stores.​

2016 was a good year for Carlos. First, he was the winner of a Startup Summer Investment Panel in 2016, taking home $3,000 in funding to grow Shine Soaps, then he was a semi-finalist in NFTE’s Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge and was nominated for a Posse Foundation Scholarship. ​

Carlos likes to give back to his community by volunteering, both as a computer literacy teacher and as an assistant teacher in his school’s NFTE class. Carlos is now working full-time for Amino Apps while continuing to grow Shine Soaps and launching a second business as an agent for social media influencers in Brazil.

Juan Daniel Ramos Fuentes

“NFTE allowed me to realize my potential. I am not limited to learning in the classroom. I know I have the skills and the drive I need to forge my own path.”

When he moved to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2010, Juan could barely speak English. In 2012 he discovered NFTE and with his business partner created Better Than History, a game intended to help players think critically about historical events. Juan and his partner qualified for NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2013 and, through NFTE, they were invited to participate in the 2014 White House Science Fair. ​

Today, Juan is graduating from the University of Texas, Austin where he is a Gates Millennium Scholar majoring in Management Information Systems with a minor in Computer Science. He has interned for UnitedHealth Group in Boston and Bazaarvoice in Austin, and will join Bazaarvoice as a Data Analyst upon graduation. Juan believes entrepreneurship can be a vehicle for driving social change and hopes to one day return to El Salvador to contribute to his country’s development.

Anna Doherty & Hope Sacco

“You have the power, no matter what age you are, to make a difference.”

Anna and Hope are two highly-active, socially-minded high school students. After several in-school projects related to gender stereotypes and female role models, they decided to take action themselves. ​

It was through the NFTE program that their idea, Girls Coloring for Change, really launched. They have been surprised by the outpouring of support for their business. Staples sponsored their first 100 books, but it took courage for them to actually contact the manager and pitch their idea.​

The girls, who are currently high school freshmen, both have aspirations to attend college someday and talk about possibly going into pediatric medicine, but they are open to other opportunities and haven’t fully decided anything yet.

Clifton Jackson

“Having an entrepreneurial mindset means to be able to think critically, learn something as you go, and think outside the box all together.”

Working as an electrician’s apprentice while in high school, Clifton discovered it can be hazardous to change tools while on a ladder. This led him to invent CWC Pliers—a lightweight 3-in-1 tool developed especially for professional electricians. This innovative multi-tool decreases job-completion time and increases workplace safety because it reduces the number of times an electrician has to reach for a tool in a toolbelt and remove a point of balance. ​

Clifton’s creative problem-solving took him to NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017, where he was a runner-up. Now, with a patent pending and a $1M+ offer for his product, Clifton understands that entrepreneurship could help him become something more than what everyone thought he would turn out to be. In addition to running CWC Pliers and pursuing his career as an electrician, Clifton also runs another business with his mother.

Crystal Sanchez

“Progress will come with perseverance, positivity, and a good work ethic.”

Crystal learned some hard truths about close friends and was floored by the sheer scope of rape crime during her research for a school paper. Something inside of her was called to action and Guardian Locket was the result. She was determined to not see someone else become a victim of rape.​

After participating in the NFTE program and winning the 2015 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, Crystal fully launched her business. Featured on CBS, FOX, and other media outlets, Crystal’s business has become a beacon of hope for many. ​

Crystal is currently attending University of California, Irvine majoring in Business/Economics and is an intern at the university’s ANTrepreneur Center.

Shami Oshun

“NFTE has helped me understand the business side of my brand. I had the creative part, but they helped me understand the business, marketing, and financials.”

Shami was inspired to pursue fashion in 2015 when her father brought her local fabrics as a gift from his recent trip to Uganda. The fashion line, Shami Oshun, was soon born. The beautiful fabric sparked a love of fashion and design that has brought us the savvy entrepreneur we know today.​

Real momentum came for Shami when she deployed a new marketing strategy on social media. She decided to make her own prom dress while posting the entire process on Twitter. The story went viral with thousands of views resulting in articles on Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Teen Vogue. ​

Shami is capitalizing on her entrepreneurial successes and taking a gap year. She was recently named 2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Scholar and put on her own high-end fashion show at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Gala in San Francisco were she showcased the Shami Oshun Resort Collection.

Kyle Wong

While in high school, Kyle helped found three businesses featured on prominent news sources, helping him become the first in his family to attend college. As a student at Stanford University and a member of the school’s accelerator program, Kyle started his current business, Pixlee: a social marketing campaign platform for collecting, curating, and displaying photos. Pixlee clients include The North Face, 1-800-Flowers, and approximately a quarter of NFL teams. Kyle is also a Forbes.com contributor, covering digital media and entrepreneurship.

Steloni Mason

“The people I have met and the things I learned through NFTE continue to inspire and encourage me, not only in my career, but in the way I think about myself and where I’m going.”

Steloni has been surrounded by entrepreneurs since a young age. Exposure to business owners and her own experience as a young actress and model taught her to pay attention to the skills she was learning and use them to market herself. While her early experiences started her journey, NFTE opened up a network of likeminded people and a world of new opportunities. ​

With her business partner, Steloni competed in the 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. She pitched her business, Paws N Found, an online app that connects local shelters and neighboring communities together to help owners local their pets quickly. She continues to pursue her first business venture and is currently working with shelters in her community to get her app incorporated into their systems.​

Steloni graduated from Oxon Hill High School where EY volunteers have focused their time, effort, and expertise helping students like Steloni explore their entrepreneurial future. She will be attending Mercy College in New York starting fall 2018. She was recently named 2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Scholar for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Robert Reffkin

“NFTE made me feel anything is possible. The part of me that’s been inspired since I was 14 years old as a NFTE student said … follow your passion, you can do whatever you want.”

After participating in the NFTE program in the Bay Area, Rob’s entrepreneurial journey took him to Columbia University and then on to Goldman Sachs. Rob also applied his entrepreneurial nature to better his community by running marathons across the country—one in each state—and raising $1 million to benefit various charities, including NFTE. ​

After leaving Goldman Sachs, Rob returned to his roots as an NFTE entrepreneur and launched Compass, a real estate technology startup now valued at over $2B.

Valery Perez

“My plans now are different from the ones I had before taking the NFTE course… now I understand how to make a simple idea a reality.”

Valery Perez has been dreaming up new business ideas since she was in elementary school, but she didn’t truly recognize the potential she has with entrepreneurship until she learned how to make her creative ideas a reality through NFTE.​

After earning her associate's degree, she won a $25,000 scholarship and is now completing her bachelor’s degree at University of North Texas. Valery was a NFTE Entrepreneurship Fellows Program participant and has interned at PepsiCo. In 2016 she was named a EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Scholar.​

Her goal is to inspire other students who come from low-income communities to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and aim high. She believes everything is possible for those who are willing to work hard for their dreams.

Khaled Khalifa

“Having an entrepreneurial mindset goes beyond owning and running a business; it’s about how we respond to everyday challenges, in the classroom and beyond. This is the essence of the NFTE experience—and it’s my biggest takeaway.”

Khaled Khalifa developed his strong passion for entrepreneurship early in life. At the age of 14, he started his business, Delicious New York, with the help of NFTE. Later, he was pleased to be able to give back to NFTE by serving in the NFTE Entrepreneurship Fellows Program.​

Khaled graduated from Clark University with a degree in Political Science and Economics, and worked as Senior Project Coordinator for Clark University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department. He is headed to graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he hopes to launch his career working in the nonprofit and non-governmental organizations sector.

Evin Floyd Robinson

With the help of his NFTE class, Evin launched his first business at the age of 16 with less than $100 in savings. Evin went on to apply his entrepreneurial mindset at Syracuse University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While a technology consultant, Evin learned that only 1% of NYC public-school students learn about computing or information systems. In response, he co-founded New York On Tech (NYOT), creating pathways for under-represented students into tech degrees and careers. Evin also serves as an adviser to early stage technology, education, and social impact organizations.

Charusmita Madan

“Entrepreneurship is a mindset. It is all about identifying a problem and finding a solution. That is something NFTE helped me with.”

After participating in NFTE’s Startup Tech Summer Program, Charusmita was able to combine her passion for Women in Technology with her hope to bridge the gender gap in STEM. NFTE helped her become confident. Being the only girl in her Computer Science class in college made her realize that needed to change. Hence, she built upon what she learned through NFTE and started Women in Tech Club at Queens College.​

Wanting to bring about change at her school, Charusmita hosted the first MLH Local Hack Day in 2017, the first all-girls hackathon in April 2018, and is currently planning a 24-hour hackathon in October 2018.​

Charusmita is currently a Junior at Queens College, City University of New York pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Economics with minors in Computer Science and Business Minor.

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