June 12, 2021

Startup Sandbox Winners Aspire to Serve Others

By Josh “James” Litman ‘21

The entrepreneurs and creative thinkers of Gordon College came together Nov. 8-10 to participate in the Startup Sandbox, a weekend of consulting for their business and nonprofit ideas. Teams pitched their ideas to judges, with first place receiving a prize of $500 toward their venture. The Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership conducted the event. This year, the Nabia Fellows Program won the top prize. GROW received second place and Vamos Cleaning Co. took third.

Middle school and high school girls in Ghana will now have access to a yearlong mentoring program, thanks to the Nabia Fellows Program. Created by Evangelina Opoku-Nyarko and Baraku Kamau, Nabia Fellows plans to provide girls in an impoverished area with the support that they need.

“Nabia Fellows Program seeks to help middle and high school girls in Northern Ghana to stay in school by providing tutoring, job skills training, and spiritual counseling,” Kamau said.

Opoku-Nyarko grew up in an area of Northern Ghana where girls were not able to transition from middle school to high school because of poverty, abuse, and lack of resources.

“Fortunately for her this was not the case as [Opoku-Nyarko] was able to receive education and graduate from school. This is not the case for several of the girls from her hometown and hence the idea of Nabia Fellows Program,” Kamau said.

The Nabia Fellows Program is a yearlong program that will start in January 2020 with a mission trip led by Gordon College students. The program is currently partnered with other programs and churches to further their goals.

Girls Running on Wit, or GROW, won second place in the Startup Sandbox. Created by Giselle Flores, GROW aims to provide a group home for pregnant teenage girls in the foster care system. GROW will focus on girls in the Greater Boston area.

“This summer after doing an internship in Hawaii and meeting many teenagers hurt by broken pieces in the foster care system, I saw that there was a need and I wanted to see the Lord’s hand in that, “says Flores, “Coming back from that internship I got the idea for GROW after a personal experience with some teenagers I worked with that summer”. 

Flores plans to implement GROW in the Boston area by getting funding for the home, as well as building connections with the Department of Children and Families and the foster care system.

Vamos Cleaning Co. a cleaning service, won third place in the competition. Arielle Moreira and David Walczak created the service with plans to employ immigrants at an above-market rate. They plan to provide their employees with language classes, professional development, and childcare.

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