NEW YORK — Kalief Rollins, a 17-year-old African-American entrepreneur, won the $10,000 first prize Wednesday night in the 2009 OppenheimerFunds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Marriott-Marquis Hotel here.
Rollins, a freshman at Los Angeles Southwest College, developed a business plan for his custom T-shirt company, Phree Kountry Clothing, which makes eight T-shirt designs with positive leadership messages targeted at urban youths. The most popular design depicts President Barack Obama.
The $5,000 second prize was awarded to Zoë Damacela, 17, a senior at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, who wrote a business plan for Zoë Damacela Apparel, a custom-made dress company. A third prize of $2,500 went to Scott Paiva, 18, a freshman at Suffolk University in Boston, who created a business plan for Express Tax Service, a tax preparation firm for young people. All three winners will meet President Obama at the White House on Oct. 19.
The competition selects the best business plans from those submitted by 24,000 students who completed a semester- or yearlong course designed by The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an international nonprofit organization, which nurtures entrepreneurship among youths in low-income communities. Twenty-eight finalists came to New York for the daylong finals of the competition and were judged on their business plans and presentations by a panel including Bobbi Brown,founder and chief executive officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and Steven Brill, co-founder and ceo of Journalism Online.
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