Keidez Thompson (right) and Gabriel Davis (center), both 10th-grade students at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School in Northeast, deliver a sales pitch of their Bliss Bag Straps to Fred Griffin, a senior sales executive at Prime Pay, during the Spring Sales Bazaar hosted by BUILD Metro DC at the Pepco Gallery in Northwest. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)
Keidez Thompson (right) and Gabriel Davis (center), both 10th-grade students at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School in Northeast, deliver a sales pitch of their Bliss Bag Straps to Fred Griffin, a senior sales executive at Prime Pay, during the Spring Sales Bazaar hosted by BUILD Metro DC at the Pepco Gallery in Northwest. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Young budding entrepreneurs conceptualized, produced and launched original products to sell in the marketplace, thanks to one organization.

BUILD Metro DC hosted their first Spring Sales Bazaar for local students to test their startups Thursday, March 30 at Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Northwest.

“For tonight, our goal is for our students to have a really positive experience and to show that they are real entrepreneurs,” said Andrew Molchany, curriculum manager of BUILD. “This is not just a school project these are real businesses that are fully certified and ensured here in the District.

“They are entrepreneurs that are making products in the District of Columbia and we want them to feel proud of what they created and what they launched, but also we want them to have the genuine experience of selling a product to a customer and getting genuine feedback whether positive or negative,” Molchany said.

Jabari Bishop, a 10th-grader at Eastern High School in Northeast, pitched his “Motionmoji,” an insulated water bottle with interchangeable emojis that show the mood of its owner.

“The reason we came up with a water bottle is that a lot of people like and need water bottles,” Jabari said. “It’s also a different way for people to express their feelings.

“Say if you’re a teacher and you have a lot of kids in your class, and they’re disrupting, you can switch it around to show your emotions,” he said.

BUILD coordinated directly with the schools and the students to make sure they were ready for their big reveal.

“In order to prepare for their big showcase we made sure they had products manufactured, display boards ready to go, practice their sales pitch and develop customer service skills,” Molchany said.

BUILD, a D.C.-based nonprofit, engages students from under-resourced communities through their four-year entrepreneurship, business development and post-secondary readiness model.

In partnership with DCPS and charter schools, they serve over 300 students at seven high schools in the city.

The students are provided with individualized academic support and business coaching by professional mentors who work with the young entrepreneurs on a weekly basis.

Since 2008, BUILD has hosted a similar showcase named the Holiday Sales Bazaar, and because of its success, the organization decided to extend it to the spring.

The student businesses range from hair care products, electronics, back protectors, incense, candles and accessories.

“This is about a semester and a half worth of work for our E2 students who have gone through their ninth-grade year with us,” said Bryce Jacobs, regional executive director of BUILD Metro DC. “They took an entrepreneurship class and learned all about business and then they manufactured for the first time at the end of their ninth-grade year. This is the first time their selling their products in front of an audience.”

The sophomores get to keep their profits after they pay back their venture capital loan, Jacobs said.

“A lot of them will most of the times reinvest their profits back into their business,” she said. “They close out their businesses in the 11th grade and they split the profits among their team members.”

Jacobs said all of their entrepreneurial efforts will ultimately help them at the next level.

“We want to make sure students are learning those skills that will take them through high school, graduate on time and go off to post secondary school,” she said. “We want to ignite the potential they already have in themselves and we say that entrepreneurship is the hook and college is the goal.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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