School of Management supports women entrepreneurs with Silverman Business Plan Competition

UPDATE: Obiageli with The WaWa Project wins the 2011 Silverman Business Plan Competition and $10,000 for her non profit. Congratulations!

Entrepreneurship is a vital part of our economy and is a direct path to leadership. The American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses reported that between 1997 and 2011, the number of businesses in the U.S. increased by 34%, but the number of women-owned firms increased by 50%.

Finalists from the 2010 Silverman Business Plan Competition

There is no argument that starting a business is challenging, especially with limited access to monetary and supportive resources. Simmons recognizes the barriers facing many entrepreneurs and has created a program that aims to foster their innovative ideas.

The annual Silverman Business Plan Competition was created to support women in launching innovative and successful ventures, and is open exclusively to Simmons School of Management MBA alumnae and current students. Participants have the opportunity to compete for a prize of $10,000 in cash. Finalists will receive access to resources to help build their business, including one-on-one coaching from seasoned entrepreneurs, and access to the vast Simmons network of venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers and lawyers.

This year's competition is scheduled for December 1 and will feature the following finalists:

Visions Sown Ancient Baking: A specialty baking enterprise that produces nutrient rich bakery products using a wide variety of plant based ingredients. Finalists: Tonya Johnson '14 MBA, entrepreneurship concentration, founder and owner Sarah Goldstein '12 MBA, entrepreneurship concentration Risa Nishimoto '12 MBA

The Wa Wa Project: A U.S. 501(c)(3) organization that provides educational opportunities through boarding and vocational schools for children with physical disabilities in Suhum, Ghana. Finalists: Obiageli Ukadike '12 MBA, entrepreneurship concentration

Cygnet Studio: Cygnet Confections is the parent company of a new idea in franchising: Cygnet Studio. At Cygnet Studios customers come in to decorate high-quality, already-baked cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Finalists: Cathyann Swindlehurst '02, Certificate in Entrepreneurship '07

Simmons Professor of Entrepreneurship Teresa Nelson talks about this year's finalists:

"The goal of the Entrepreneurship Program at Simmons is to educate, connect and advise women as they launch and grow sustainable, scalable ventures with impact! I am so proud of Cathyann, Tonya and Oby and the work they have done -- their ambition and drive is a prime example of the Simmons spirit.

Interested in learning more about Entrepreneurship at Simmons? Like the Simmons School of Management on Facebook and be sure to R.S.V.P. to attend the Silverman Business Plan Competition or contact with questions.