As the WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) application deadline approaches, we continue to look back at past participants who have gone on to amazing achievement. This week, we look at four women who continue to bring passion and purpose to their ventures.
SEP is open to all women students enrolled at a recognized college or university with a major in a STEAM field or with entrepreneurial aspirations.
Class of 2008
Ionnie McNeill has benefited greatly from the information and exposure at WBENC conferences and regional programs, including the WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program. After participating in the program, Ionnie graduated from Howard University with a degree in accounting in 2010 and an internship with Deloitte in Washington, D.C.
By the end of the summer, she redirected her life course by deciding to start an Organic Garden at Howard University, while building her brand and business, “The Baby Billionaire” as a teacher among youth on the topics of investing and personal finance.
This work allowed Ionnie to work with the likes of Capital One, ING, The Heart of America, and Girls, Inc. to create and deliver financial education materials and presentations to grade-school students. Ionnie has been investing since she was seven years old, and has released her own children’s book entitled “The Baby Billionaire’s Guide to Investing.”
Recently, Ionnie moved back home to south Florida and is working in her family’s business founded by her mother, Ann McNeill: MCO Construction & Services, Inc. She currently handles business development and contract compliance for one of the firm’s biggest clients, Miami International Airport.
Class of 2010
Feyi Odukoya is an international speaker and entrepreneur determined to instill boldness in girls and women, while teaching them to live a life of purpose.
After starting her first business at the age of 13, Feyi became passionate about discovering how to best use her gifts and talents to touch the lives of others. Motivated by an encounter with an 8-year-old battling self-esteem issues, Feyi quit her day job in order to fully focus on Project Beautify You, Inc., an organization she founded whose mission is to raise a generation of female leaders by assisting 12- to 18-year-old girls in developing increased levels of self-esteem, confidence, and purpose.
The Morgan State University alum’s speaking, philanthropic efforts and innovative programming have yielded her national recognition and accolades, including the “I Am Legend” Award from her alma mater and a recent selection, as a My Black is Beautiful National Ambassador. She has been featured on radio stations such as WEAA 88.9, 93.9 WKYS, and magazines including Oprah, Ebony, Essence, and Sister to Sister. A consummate entrepreneur, the Maryland native dreams of opening a community center where she can continue inspiring women on levels greater than what she’s able to imagine!
Cierra Robinson was selected to be a part of WBENC SEP in 2010 as a student at Howard University. Today she is an entrepreneur and owner of CMR Agency and is in partnership with Elevate Branding. Cierra is also a public speaker, media scholar, presenter on topics of business, PR, branding, leadership, and youth entrepreneurship.
Robinson made her mark in the entrepreneur arena by competing in business plan competitions after attending WBENC SEP. While attending Howard University, she participated in business-oriented training programs and opportunities, including the Howard University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation (ELI) entrepreneurship certificate program. She has been recognized for her entrepreneurial endeavors with awards in both the 2009 and 2010 John H. Johnson Business Plan Competitions, and was awarded a 2009-2010 Fellowship with the Communications Entrepreneurship Research and Resource Center (CERRC).
Cierra is also a passionate public speaker, having spoken at Yale University, Girl Scouts of America, Spelman College, and Lincoln University, to name a few. Robinson's uses her passion to inspire and challenge youth to be their best. She has been named DMV Top 30 Under 30, DC 2013 Best Philanthropist, and serves as a YWCA Social Justice board member.
Meg Schmidt was a freshman student at Hampton University’s School of Business when she participated in WBENC SEP Class of 2010.
At the time, she successfully raised funds via her Cupcake Meg brand to assist children in the West African country of Togo and Central American country of Belize. Gaining the support of her school community, the Hampton Roads community, and her native Brooklyn, NY community, she was well on her way to earning the title of Cupcake Queen and the respect of peers who became immensely inspired by the impact of social responsibility.
Due to the market shift toward more health conscious choices, Meg rebranded and relaunched Cupcake Meg with a new product: Super Sweet Sugar Scrub, a skin care exfoliant used to treat blemishes, acne, and texture. Her product is organic, including fair-trade sugar, skin safe fragrances, natural oils, and butters.
Inspired by the ingredients she once used for baking, Meg has found the Super Sweet Sugar Scrub as a new way to continue helping others and providing a source of inspiration through self-image. Repurposing sugar as a skin exfoliant means more than a personal spa day for Cupcake Meg—it means confidence, hygiene, and wellbeing, packed into a jar of sweetness.
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