Santa Barbara High School Dons Net Cafe Wins Small Business Summit Business Plan!

By Dyan Bomer on Jun 27, 2015 at 07:10 PM in Press Releases

Dons Net Café takes first place at business summit

Dons Net Café’s newest business venture took first place at the Doing What Matters-Small Business Summit in Sacramento June 19. After successful performances at three preliminary rounds earlier in the spring, the team flew to the capital for finals. Local business mentor George Rusznak of Santa Barbara SCORE and Sharon Henning of the SBHS Alumni Association also made the trip with the team.  

In addition to a vocal, enthusiastic local audience at the competition site, the event was also broadcast live to 10 community college campuses throughout California. The students put on a flawless presentation and answered five minutes of questions that demonstrated clear thinking, grace under pressure, and sophisticated business knowledge. 

The Dons Net Café winning presentation was entitled “Finding Common Ground,” a partnership between Escuela de Agricola de San Francisco of Paraguay and the Dons Net Café to sell jewelry made by the Toba Tribe, an ethnic group living in Bolivia and Argentina as well as Paraguay. Both schools use a portion of their business profits to benefit their programs, while another percentage goes to a charity of their choice.

The Santa Barbara students were introduced to their Paraguayan counterparts by their mutual supporters at Toms Shoes, following a class visit to TOMS Shoes in Venice, CA last year. The two geographically disconnected groups also interacted via bi-weekly Skype sessions and a Facebook group. 

"This win shows that anything is possible with commitment, passion, and the true desire to do some good in the world," said student and CEO of Finding Common Ground, Maddie Mender.  The students will decide what to do with the $2000 investment!  Along with this prize will be a free commercial, year subscription to Constant Contact, and year long entrepreneurship class at Kauffman.

The Dons Net Café, a Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is a group of 11 student-run businesses that represents a 22-year commitment to inspire students to create positive social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning. The slogan of the Dons Net Café is “Doin’ Some Good in the World.” In this two-period class at Santa Barbara High School, students practice “real life” entrepreneurial skills through hands-on experience in business, social entrepreneurship, and economics.  Further information is available by contacting 963-8597 or [email protected]

Special thanks to our loyal business partners at Montecito Bank & Trust, Athens Capital, BarkBack, and Santa Barbara SCORE.

Santa Barbara High School Dons Net Cafe Wins Small Business Summit Business Plan!
Proud winners!

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Photo cutline:  From left to right: Instructor Lee Ann Knodel; student Maddie Mender (CEO), George Rusznak, Santa Barbara SCORE; student Julia Danalovich; and student Elizabeth Avila (next year's CEO).