Members of Joie de Vivre celebrate their triumph with the competition's judges.
Local high school students, Chris Fujii, Habiba Mohamed, Zahra Mohamed, Anab Hersi and Mohamed Mohamed were chosen last week as winners of the Seattle Making the Business: Youth I.T. Challenge hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Their team, Joie de Vivre, will represent Seattle at the 2006 National Urban League Conference taking place in Atlanta, Ga.
The Making the Business: Youth IT Challenge is a 10-week program designed to engage minority youth between 14 and 18 in the development of an original information technology-based business. Participating students received hands-on training in the development of a Web-based business and a business plan from information technology professionals and business owners. Students also learned about existing opportunities in the technology field.
"By providing minority youth the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial and technology skills with a challenging expert-developed curriculum, we hope to inspire youth to be the business leaders of tomorrow" said James Kelly, president of the Urban League.
This year's competition, held at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, was particularly competitive.
"Picking the winning team this year was a hard decision," Kelly said. "I'm dazzled by the professionalism, teamwork and sheer intellect these students demonstrated."
One team invented a business to take digital and paper photos and turn them into one DVD presentation — complete with music tracks. Another team started a business as an instant virtual secretary to the area's small start-up businesses. And a third created a business to connect young, diverse workers with their first job through virtual interviews prospective bosses could preview.
Joie de Vivre won this year's competition by appealing to the hearts and stomachs of today's consumers. The team — made up predominately of Somali kids — came up with an extensive business plan to offer a variety of ethnic foods online. Their business model was founded on the idea that selling these consumer products could be profitable in a place where these ethnic communities are growing, and it could also educate customers to learn about the cultures.
The Urban League partnered with Microsoft Corp. to stage the event, providing students with the opportunity to gain knowledge of technology and to entice them to enter entrepreneurship and pursue information technology-based careers at a greater rate.
"Microsoft is committed to providing meaningful ways in which African Americans, women and minorities overall, can engage IT-based programming with access to the technology tools, programs and solutions that enable lifelong learners to realize their full potential," said Patricia Ryan of Microsoft.
"This challenge is a great wake-up call of just how intelligent this next generation is in entrepreneurial spirit," Ryan added.
For more information about the participating students, visit www.youthitchallenge.com.