#EWeekNiagara Highlights Youth Entrepreneurship in Niagara

Posted Apr 17th, 2017 in resource, Feature

Safiya Aboen wins Pitch Perfect young entrepreneur competition 

Left to Right: Geordan Robertson, Director of Small Business, Meridian Credit Union, Rachel Epp, Founder, Miss'es Clean,
Pitch Perfect winner Safiya Aboen of Mazaaji, and Keith Cumming, Owner, PrimeWay Group

Earlier this month, youth entrepreneurship was celebrated in the Niagara Region. Together BioLinc, Brock University’s business incubator, and ncTakeOff, Niagara College’s entrepreneurship hub, hosted the second annual Entrepreneurship Week, a week-long burst of entrepreneurship activities across the Niagara Region. #EWeekNiagara

The week kicked off with Brock University’s Monster Pitch, a business pitch competition where Brock University students have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of celebrity judges which this year included; Jim Treliving, one of five judges on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International Inc.; Bruce Croxon, co-host of BNN’s The Disruptors and CEO of Round13; Deborah Rosati, corporate director and co-founder of Women Get On Board; and Jason Sparaga, co-founder and co-CEO of Spark Power Corp. and founder of Spara Capital Partners. This year’s winner, David Lisi, pitched his social enterprise business, Bundle, and won a funding and start up package.

Next, ncTakeOff hosted its second annual Pitch Perfect: a pitch competition for early-stage, student-led companies. New this year was a generous sponsorship from Meridian Credit Union which allowed for a grand prize of $3,000 cash in addition to the marketing services startup package (valued at $2,000). Judges from the local entrepreneurship community, including Keith Cumming, owner of The Primeway Group and Niagara Angel Network member; Geordan Robertson, director of Small Business at the Meridian Credit Union; and Rachel Epp, president and founder of Miss’es Clean (and a proud graduate of Niagara College), selected Mazaaji as the winner from among seven finalists. Mazaaji is an artisanal, socially conscious clothing company founded by Niagara College student, Safiya Aboaen. Safiya is a young but proven entrepreneur with her successful hair styling business and instagram following of over 15,000 (@hairbysafiyaa). Being the winner of Pitch Perfect, Safiya will advance to pitch at the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce's Ignite pitch competition in May 2017. There, she will compete for $10,000 in cash and $30,000 in business development services.

There were other exciting events sprinkled in throughout the week as well, including a Hackathon and three Makerspace Open Houses. Brock University and Niagara College Makerspaces invited students to tour common spaces that inspire collaboration and idea sharing and to learn more about prototyping with 3D printers and other technologies.

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