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SMCC Student Entrepreneurs Nationally Recognized

National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship awards three student entrepreneurs

[Phoenix, AZ October 17, 2014]— Three South Mountain Community College (SMCC) student entrepreneurs were honored at the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) conference earlier this month.

Diana Monell, Lovelyn Omari and Gus Barnes received cash prizes for their demonstrated innovation and creative accomplishments in businesses they are operating while attending college. All three students were enrolled in SMCC’s Small Business Entrepreneurship classes where they acquired the skills, tools and knowledge needed to succeed in a profit-based business.

Diana Monell, a bilingual bookkeeper with more than 30 years of experience, realized that she had a skill she could offer the growing number of Latino-owned businesses in greater Phoenix. “I recognized that many small firms had a need for Spanish-speaking bookkeeping services, but could not afford to hire a full-time employee,” Monell stated. “I knew that I could offer these services, but didn’t know how to get a businesses started. Taking the entrepreneurship class at SMCC provided me the guidance I needed to get my business off the ground.” Monell is now the owner of Lady D Bookkeeping Services and has several clients.

Lovelyn Omari already had a loyal following when she took the entrepreneurship class at SMCC. Her expertise and over 15-years of experience in hair braiding had provided her with a list of steady clients and a growing social media presence, but she needed to formalize her business. While in the class, Omari was able to take advantage of the resources offered and set up an official business with the Arizona Corporation Commission. By the end of the class, Asabea Braiding was on its way to becoming a household name in braiding. was the invention of Gus Barnes. “I wanted to develop a referral site to help people locate local businesses to shop, eat and play where discounts, rebates or points are offered,” explained Barnes. Already understanding the small-business community, he took the entrepreneurship course to develop his marketing strategy and sales pitch. is live and gives businesses and customers a place to connect.

The three students won a total of $3,000 in cash made possible by donations from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) and the C. Lowell Harriss Scholarship Fund.

South Mountain Community College offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training. The main campus is located on Baseline Rd. and 24th St. in Phoenix. There are two satellite campuses, SMCC’s Guadalupe Center and SMCC’s Laveen Center. South Mountain Community College is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. 

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