Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

Celebrating Entrepreneurship at LAEDA's Annual Graduation for the Class of 2023

Posted on 10/23/2023 by Ray Lamboy in LAEDA News

Camden, NJ- Thursday, October 19, 2023- The Latin American Economic Development Program Association, Inc. (LAEDA) celebrated their annual graduation ceremony for the Entrepreneurial Development Training Program and The Women’s Business Academy. The graduation was held at The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center in Camden, NJ. The graduating classes included the sessions from Fall 2022-Session 94, Winter 2022- Session 95 and Spring 2023-Session 96.

As the room opened up to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates in the room, Raymond L. Lamboy, President & CEO of LAEDA disclosed, “Our alumni are an important part of our success; No donation is too small or too big. We are thankful for our funders for making our programs happen. The graduating students sitting in this room right now reached out to LAEDA, the 22 students came with an idea and dream to starting their businesses and now they are graduating and I would also like to take this time out to thank our investors because without you our programs would not exist.”

After Ray thanked LAEDA, Inc. Professionals, Board Members, Faculty, Supporters (Corporate and Public partners) and Individual donors for giving graduates the needed opportunity and resources to meet their goals and help their business stand where they want it to; he handled over the mic to Louise Capelli Jr, Camden County Board of Commissions Director who filled the room with valuable words amongst the following: “Tonight we have many graduates representing different businesses and we are excited to see what is stored for our graduates and I congratulate each and everyone of you and wanted to add that we are here to help you with what you may need.

Krista Bey, LAEDA’s alumna with Elegant Lotus Gifts and also board member, who sparked the room with words of encouragement: “Graduates- we welcome you to our family; you have attended the classes and dedicated your time to your business & LAEDA as well,” Krista explained. “Never lose hope and remember that LAEDA offers continued support and assistance.”

Afterward Merfred "Mimi" Feliz, Camden Verify Coordinator illustrated, “Students make LAEDA what it is today and in so many ways you’re not even aware of, you give the place its liveliness, it’s a park, it’s energy, it’s edge, and it’s driving sense of purpose and mission,” Mimi added, “My thanks go to all of you as a group for making that extraordinary contribution and when we say LAEDA is never done in helping you succeed even after graduation, we really mean we are never done and we will always keep that on-going relationship because your success is our success.” She also took the time to explain the Camden Verified Process, which is a joint effort to leverage the economic potential of NJ Grow Businesses. (Please click the link to learn more).

Afterward Jamila Powell, Women’s Business Center Program Manager, reflected on the past year and all the hard work the graduates put into their work. “I congratulate each and everyone of you. It is difficult to balance life, going to the program, and working on your business. We are always here for you truly, and building commodity amongst all the students. Thank you for all the hard work you guys did in these nine weeks, and when you put that extra time to work on that passion, your dreams and your goals even after work and all responsibilities and commitments.”

The class representatives are selected based on their personality, professionalism, and public speaking abilities. The class representatives for 2023 were Carla Clements of (Gratitude Health & Wellness Consultants LLC) for Fall 2022-Session 94, Anthony Gomez of (ANY Mobile Vending & Catering LLC) for Winter 2023- Session 95, and Yvette Graham of (RYT Care) for Spring 2023- Session 96. Below, are excerpts from their graduation speeches:

• Carla Clements: “About 20 % of small businesses fail by the first year and about 50% of all small businesses fail by the second year so why do we invest time in this? Thus, it is important for entrepreneurs and the importance of relationship building across the board, friends, family, coworkers and customers is vital to our success, which is a significant takeaway from LAEDA that there is always a teachable moment, relationship building is vital and never ever forget your why.”

• Anthony Gomez: “Congratulations to all the graduates and keep on continuing to work hard and not giving up. If you fail, then maybe you didn’t know everything about it; which is okay and together we can do great things. Thank you LAEDA for all the classes and the business counseling sessions to make the business ownership a reality.”

• Yvette Graham: “Networking stands out especially because the climate of the business world is always changing, but if you have a connection here and tie here you are okay; and if you are looking to evaluate business and lift then go network and hug, love, prayer is needed and really appreciate in the entrepreneurial journey. Thank you LAEDA for all the connections and valuable relationships.”

Then, Tammy Ong, Business Counseling Support Specialist- Women's Business Center spoke into the microphone: “We want to take this time to recognize that one instructor who students felt made the most impact throughout their time in the program by giving him the honor of Instructor of the Year. This year's award goes to Business Law Instructor Marc Snyderman. Thank you for teaching our students so much valuable information that they can carry with them on their business journey and again much congratulations to all of our graduating students.”

“To all the instructors who came to our classes with materials and such valuable information and amazing energy to teach and help our students we just wanted to say our warmest thanks for your consideration, donating your time, sharing your knowledge and resources with LAEDA and its students,” Sehrish Khan, Training Coordinator LAEDA Business Services Center added, “Thank you for everything that you do to make our classes happen and help our students to achieve their business goals; without you guys we could not have made the program what it is.”

Annabel Soto, Office Administrator shared some crucial words of wisdom, “These individuals have put 75 hours toward instruction and we all worked together as a team to work on goals and be ready for graduation. Continue being strong and do not give up; knock on our door and we are here for you; congratulations to each and everyone one of you.”

Next Annabel called all the names of the graduates and their business names as well.

Sophie Werner was there on stage as well congratulating the LAEDA graduates, which she had also worked with in her previous time and position with LAEDA as our Business Services Center Program Manager.

Nayezge Heyer, Operations Support Coordinator congratulated each graduate and gave each graduate information packets and resources as each one was ready to go back in the seats and continue celebrating their own success along with all the other individuals celebrating as well.

Jamila came onto the stage again to recognize all of Sherry Diamond's hard work and dedication to LAEDA and to present her an award.

Mariana Hinojosa, Assistant Program Manager - Women's Business Center: “Congratulations everyone and now I want to bring forward the Citizen’s Bank staff that we partnered with to provide our alumni with a special opportunity to win some money by pitching about their businesses, thank you for the partnership of three years thus far.”

Some words from the staff at Citizens Bank: “We provide this to the generation of the next train of entrepreneurs who are the backbone of our community and congratulations to everyone; keep on growing and do not give up,” shared Sharana Worsley and Terry Goggans.

Jamila congratulated the winners of the Citizens Bank pitch competition, which are the following: (1) Cesily Cannon of Cesily's Love Meals, (2) Sherrie Wilkins of Best of Me Y.E.S. and (3) Tashelle Ball of Specialized Quality Care LLC.

Later, Raymond Lamboy provided the closing remarks: “Before we close up the program to join our team, family and friends at the Black Box with food and refreshments I would like to take this time to bring forth a challenge: Will you take what you learned and apply it to your journey and grab onto your dream? Remember LAEDA is with you now and into the future.”

The night concluded with endless applause from the audience and pictures that captured these valuable moments.

LAEDA prepares entrepreneurs for the entrepreneurial world and the doors within LAEDA help toward building upon your goals and climbing those steps toward success one step at a time because each step is valuable and essential in building that successful business venture and setting up a sustainable business. The classes teach students the building blocks of opening up and operating a business.

The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program and Women's Business Center have graduated 1,188 students, creation of 654 businesses and created 1401 jobs in the city of Camden and throughout South Jersey. LAEDA has been empowering people and revitalizing the community to start and grow businesses in Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, Atlantic and Cumberland Counties in New Jersey. If you are ready to become an entrepreneur and or business owner, Call LAEDA at (856) 338-1177 or visit us on the Web at: www.LAEDA.com for more information and to help you get started and going on your entrepreneurial journey.

Before the night ended all attendees enjoyed food from our alumna Aunt Berta’s Kitchen and the Picture Booth provided by our recent graduate of tonight and our alumna Nicole Parks of Flawless Mirror Me Photobooth.