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DECA students compete at national conference

Junior Kendall Fagan plans to pursue a career as a social entrepreneur. He has had his own business selling school supplies since middle school, donating the proceeds to Save the Children in areas of armed conflict. - Linda Ball/Staff Photo
Junior Kendall Fagan plans to pursue a career as a social entrepreneur. He has had his own business selling school supplies since middle school, donating the proceeds to Save the Children in areas of armed conflict.
— image credit: Linda Ball/Staff Photo

The students in Carol Wiseley’s International Entrepreneurship class at Mercer Island High School are bright, motivated and focused. Not only are they international traders with their corporation, Mercer Trade Inc., which is a public company, but they are excelling in competition.

Students from Wiseley’s class competed in the National DECA Innovations and Entrepreneurship Conference competition during Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 18-19.

The conference brought students from all over the country to San Diego to compete for a national title by creating products and pitching their ideas to venture capitalists.

Out of approximately 30 teams consisting of three to four people, two of Wiseley’s teams took two of the top three spots. The team consisting of seniors Charlotte Witter, Mattie Friedman and Lauren Frank won the competition.

The other team, part of the advanced marketing class, with seniors Conner Perryman and Rachael Sims, and juniors Erin McKiernan and Jenny Jones, came in second.

These two teams currently oversee two student-run companies, Mercer Trade Inc., which trades products with schools in Ghana and Shanghai, and its subsidiary, Dnalsi Inc., which markets and sells products to the local community. Mercer Trade Inc. was established two years ago in Wiseley’s advanced marketing class. The class owns 51 percent of the company; they refinance at the end of the school year as students graduate.

The International Entrepreneurship class is open to juniors and seniors, not limited to Mercer Island. Every day students from Bothell and Newport high schools join the Mercer Island students as they form ideas for their businesses and their futures. The class involves three hours each day, one of which is spent outside the classroom in an internship. The goal is to teach the kids to become entrepreneurs.

Wiseley secured a grant from the state of Washington to write the framework and curriculum for the course. Wiseley’s long-term goal is to make the International Entrepreneurship class a sustainable curriculum that can be used and shared with several teachers.

Students at St. Augustine’s College, an elite all-boys school in Cape Coast, Ghana, were the first trading partners with Mercer Trade, Inc. Witter actually spent time in Ghana last summer volunteering in an orphanage with American Foreign Service. Passionate about international travel and trade, and knowing that the class traded with Ghana, she was in.

“Part of my bucket list is to visit all seven continents,” Witter said. St. Augustine’s was closed for summer vacation when she was there, but the experience added to her enthusiasm to stay connected to the country.

Kevin Miller, a 16-year-old junior from Bothell High School, is the youngest member of Wiseley’s class. He said he read about the class and it fit him because he comes from an entrepreneurial background. He is already creating a business plan to open a hip-hop cultural center in Seattle after college. His goal is to attend Foster School of Business at UW, a goal Wiseley said is very realistic, given that both her CEOs (for Mercer Trade Inc.) from the last two year’s classes have been accepted to Foster.

Kenya is the country of their social impact focus. The money that the class makes from their business enterprise is used to help Kenyans through organizations like Women’s Enterprise International.

“We are trying to help them help themselves,” said senior Alissa Garrett, one of the current CEOs of Mercer Trade; Mattie Friedman is the other CEO. Through their partnership with Women’s Enterprise International, they help Kenyan women write business plans, match funds and hold harambis, or bank days.

Another one of Wiseley’s stars, Kendall Fagan, a junior at MIHS, has run his own business selling school supplies since middle school.

Fagan is interested in pursuing a career in social entrepreneurship. In his business, called Helpeduc8, he purchases school supplies at wholesale online, then he puts the packages together. When parents come for registration, everything is ready for them to pick up. He donates all of his proceeds to Save The Children in areas affected with armed conflict. Fagan plans to attend the University of Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica, after high school.

Sometime next semester the advanced marketing class, Dnalsi, plans to hold an event to showcase their products and what they do domestically and internationally.

Employers interested in interns may contact Wiseley at c.wiseley@comcast.net.

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