BOSTON (December 5, 2011) — An MBA student, who co-founded a non-profit organization to provide life-changing educational opportunities for children with disabilities in Ghana, recently won a business plan competition for women entrepreneurs at the Simmons School of Management in Boston.
The annual Simmons Silverman Business Plan Competition awarded Obiageli Ukadike, who graduates from the School of Management in May 2012, with $10,000 in cash and in-kind professional support to launch The WaWa Project. The WaWa Project aims to prepare children with disabilities in the West African nation of Ghana to be self-reliant, independent individuals who become positive, active and contributing members of a community. The WaWA Project will house and teach the children in boarding and vocational schools there.
This year was the first year that a non-profit enterprise was awarded first prize in the annual business plan competition, which is open to students and graduates of the School of Management — the only business school in the nation designed specifically for women.
"The Simmons Silverman Business Plan Competition represents a vital opportunity for our graduates and students to draw on the School of Management community, including faculty and business leaders, to support them as they launch sustainable, scalable ventures with impact," said Dr. Teresa Nelson, the Elizabeth J. McCandless Chair in Entrepreneurship and director of the entrepreneurship program at the Simmons School of Management.
The judges said they selected The WaWa Project, also founded by Bridget Koha and Marisa Galeota, as the business plan competition winner because of the strong presentation of the organization's strategy, operations, marketing, and finances. Nelson also said The WaWa Project articulated both its growth trajectory and the development of an impressive board of directors, which demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and a high likelihood of success.
The other finalists in the business plan competition included Tonya Johnson of Visions Sown Ancient Baking, a specialty baking enterprise that produces nutrient rich bakery products using a wide variety of plant based ingredients; and Cathyann Swindlehurst of the Cygnet Studio, of the parent company Cygnet Confections, which allows customers to decorate high-quality, already-baked cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.
The Silverman Business Plan Competition began at Simmons College in 2006, to support women in launching and leading entrepreneurial ventures. It is named in recognition of a major gift from Lois Silverman Yashar, founder of CRA Managed Care (now Concentra Managed Care), and founding chair of The Commonwealth Institute.
As part of the competitive process, participants are paired with faculty advisors who assist them with various aspects of new business creation, such as financial statement development and market outreach. Participants also gain access to established entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers, and attorneys.
The Simmons School of Management (www.simmons.edu/som) is the only business school in the world designed specifically to educate women for power and principled leadership. It is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a distinction earned by fewer than 30% of business schools in the United States and fewer than 5% worldwide. The program is ranked the No. 1 MBA in the United States with the "Greatest Opportunity for Women" by The Princeton Review, as part of its "Best 294 Business Schools" guidebook.
Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston with a history of visionary thinking, and a focus on leadership and social responsibility. Follow Simmons on Twitter @SimmonsCollege and @SimmonsNews.
(Photo above: Obiageli Ukadike and Bridget Koha, winners of Simmons Silverman Business Plan Competition)
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