Monday, June 19, 2017

WBENC Sets the Stage in Las Vegas for the 2017 Student Entrepreneur Program and Pitch Competition

Article extract from

WASHINGTONJune 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is proud to announce the 20 student entrepreneurs selected for the prestigious 2017 WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) at WBENC's National Conference & Business Fair in Las Vegas, Nevada from June 18 - 23

The SEP program fosters growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through a tailored entrepreneurial curriculum and mentoring from certified women-owned businesses and Fortune 500 Corporate Members including Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company, Dell Technologies, Ericsson North America, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Merck, Macy's Inc, Pfizer Inc., Office Depot, Inc, U.S. Postal Service, and Walmart Stores, Inc. The Title Sponsors for the 2017 program are Allstate Insurance Company and FedEx.

Cheryl Harris, Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer of Allstate Insurance Company, reflects on her experience as a mentor with SEP: "WBENC's Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) emboldens that entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation of women business owners. As a past mentor, I feel it is my duty to continually be a part of this developmental program. SEP fosters the brilliance of these women; empowering them to exercise their ingenuity and influence in advancing the business and local community landscapes – unleashing innovative WBEs into the economy.

"FedEx is proud to support the WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP)," says Sue Spence, Vice President, Sourcing and Procurement at FedEx. "This program has a proven track record of providing essential resources to help encourage the next generation of women business owners. Playing a role in the growth of small businesses is a major focus area for FedEx, and it's even more exciting to play a role in the development of young women through the SEP program."

Since inception in 2008, more than 150 students from 50 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from SEP. To celebrate WBENC's 20th anniversary, SEP is welcoming ten alumnae from prior years as mentors to the current participants throughout the week and beyond. This exciting addition is made possible by our 20th Anniversary Alumni Champion Sponsor, Shell Oil Company.

As part of the program, the students compete in a pitch competition. In 2016, WBENC awarded $5,000 in seed capital to Ya-El Mandel-Portnoy, founder and CEO of Cardea Sciences; the 2nd and 3rd place participants won $3,000 and $2,000 in seed capital, respectively. This year, the cohort will compete again for $10,000 in seed capital during the EY WBENC SEP Pitch Competition on Thursday, June 22 from 3-5 p.m. at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Conference attendees are encouraged to attend. 

This year's cohort includes students from 17 universities majoring in biomedical, engineering, computer science, business and the arts. All student participants are passionate about their future and have incredible entrepreneurial spirits. Whether they are still in the early stages of launching their startup or looking to advance their business, SEP will give this year's cohort the tools and resources to become proactive women entrepreneurs. Here are this years' participants.

{in alphabetical order}

  • Carrisa AndersonHofstra University
  • Isis AshfordPrairie View A&M University
  • Jordan BanksWake Forest University
  • Emilee Burroughs, Berry College
  • Alex CorenUniversity of Miami
  • Ashia DavisPepperdine University
  • Rebecca DubermanUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Queneesha GregoryGeorgia Southern University
  • Nakia GuyColumbus State University
  • Allison IngleWright State University
  • Sharlena LuyenOregon State University
  • Lauren MillerWake Forest University
  • Alexa PetePrairie View A&M University
  • Sadie PierceMississippi State University
  • Kareman Rawy, Oregon State University
  • Rikki RummelUniversity of South Florida
  • Ana SanchezFlorida State University
  • Parisa SorayaUniversity of Michigan
  • Mary Taylor JrUniversity of Cincinnati
  • Rose WongUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
Sadie Lee
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Friday, May 5, 2017

MSU Fashion Design, Merchandising Senior Participating in Summer Entrepreneurship Program

Article extracted from

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.— A senior fashion design and merchandising student at Mississippi State will explore her entrepreneurial career aspirations this summer during a prestigious national program in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sadie L. Pierce of Hockley, Texas, has been selected to participate June 18-23 in the 2017 Student Entrepreneur Program sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
Founded in 1997, WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the U.S. The national nonprofit seeks to “foster diversity in the world of commerce” and “fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities by identifying, certifying and facilitating development of women-owned businesses.” For more, visit
“WBENC SEP is an amazing opportunity to learn, network and engage with the WBENC’s 14 Regional Partner Organizations, more than 14,000 certified women business enterprises and 300-plus Corporate and Government Members,” said Andrew Gaeckle, WBENC strategic planning director.
“Through the robust curriculum, mentoring, off-site visits, programming and pitch competition, we look forward to helping students along their entrepreneurial journey,” Gaeckle added.
Pierce has been collaborating with graduating MSU business administration major Allison A. “Allie” Seale of Vicksburg on a startup project at the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
According to E-Center Director Eric Hill, Pierce and Seale have been working together to devise FormIT, a system that would enable apparel retailers’ patrons to try on clothes and check out faster.
Hill said the system would include radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers that automatically detect the style and size of an article of clothing that is brought into the dressing room. Customers also would be able to check out upon exit using a tablet in the dressing room, Hill added.
Pierce and Seale conceptualized the FormIT idea while attending the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York as part of a trip sponsored by MSU’s School of Human Sciences and its fashion design and merchandising program. The startup has been awarded a $500 Spark Grant through the E-Center, and Pierce and Seale are seeking additional funding.
For more on MSU’s School of Human Sciences and its academic programs, visit; the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Daring in a Red Skirt

Hi Friends!

This cloudy weather makes me miss our days in New York City. I had the opportunity to attend The National Retail Federation's annual Big Show. I heard from wonderful keynotes speakers such as Rebecca Minkoff and Simon Sinek. Getting to experience New York was great, but I could never trade my experience at the Big Show for anything. It allowed me to open my mind and find new ideas for the retail industry. It just made me love this major that much more!

We were strolling through Central Park during our two-hour evening break and it was simply beautiful. I felt like in this outfit and in this place, I can do anything. This was the perfect look for a quick trip to The Met and then on to the Big Show Gala Reception. 

Don't be afraid to take chances. You never know what that daring decision could lead you to. On this day, I walked up to a man I had never met before. I introduced myself and we exchanged business cards. Now, I get to learn all about how his technology is going to change the face of retail. Life is good outside of your comfort zone. It good for your soul. Be confident and take the world by storm. 

Sadie Lee
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Remember to always love the life you live!