FLEX ABY entrepreneurship program names top 10 businesses, awards seed loans

Albany, GA – FLEX ABY – a youth entrepreneurship program produced in partnership by the Albany Area Chamber Foundation, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy) – has named the top 10 businesses for the 2022-23 competition season.

After round one of competition, which included business plan evaluations conducted by business partners from the Albany business community, 10 student businesses will be moving on to round two:

A.R.A. Resin – Owned and operated by partners Mya Jackson and Zakaiya Ash, A.R.A. Resin produces resin-based products that are customizable to a client’s individual style.

Ariez – A handmade children and women’s clothing company in which owner Ariel Jackson seals each item with an encouraging message.

Art Stop – Owner Nylia Thompson uses her business as an outlet to share her digital and canvas art with the world.

Creed Productions – A video production company operated by Caleb Himes specializing in creating and editing sales videos for livestock.

Lovelise  – A social media-based business owned by Chelise Ethridge uses art as a story-telling medium, aiming to inspire women to pursue their passions.

Messy Treats – Specializing in brownies and other baked treats, owner A’liyha Haskins’ motto is to, “Make it a sweet mess for everyone.”

Plug’s Kitchen – A specialty catering business operated by Andrew Dawson aims to enhance special events.

Prayer Buddiez – Kennede Miller hand-crochets animals that help children learn about Bible verses in a fun, simplified way.

Vintage Photography – Diamond Mims’ mission is to capture life’s important moments as families experience joy and create memories.

Zari D Artistry – Zaria Davenport’s multi-purpose business is currently focused on custom shoe designs.

The top 10 businesses will compete in round two of the local FLEX ABY competition on February 21 at Albany Technical College, where they will pitch their ideas to a second panel of local business leaders.

To help them scale their businesses, each of the top 10 were given the opportunity to apply for seed loans made possible by investors from the business community. To obtain loans, students met with Albany Area Chamber Foundation President & CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes and 4C CEO Chris Hatcher to give an overview of their business plans and outline specific ways they plan to invest the funds.

“The goal of FLEX ABY is to expose students to the process of starting and scaling a business through realistic, firsthand experience,” said Holmes. “Securing capital is a critical step for any business. Furthermore, it will be the responsibility of the students to manage their funds wisely to achieve maximum return on investment and be able to repay the loans as agreed.”

FLEX (Foundational Leadership and Entrepreneur X-perience) is a statewide youth entrepreneurship competition designed to encourage innovation, create prosperity and revitalize rural entrepreneurial ecosystems by exposing students to the rewards, challenges and processes associated with starting a business.

A total of $9,500 will be given in cash awards throughout the competition, with $5,000 going to the local winner.

The local competition is comprised of three phases, with one winner advancing on to the state finals, to be held in Fitzgerald in April 2023.