Rising Star Award
For 35-year-old André J. Downey, following in his father’s footsteps is paying off. Downey is the winner of this year’s BLACK ENTERPRISE Rising Star Award, which recognizes individuals ages 21 to 35 whose skills, professionalism, and perseverance have established them as future business leaders. Downey was inspired to enter the environmental cleanup and construction business by his father, Joseph, who owned the same type of business.
Thanks to that inspiration and a lot of hard work, the CEO of Landover, Maryland-based Environmental, Engineering & Construction Inc. (EEC) saw his firm gross $2.5 million in 2001, a 56% increase from the $1.6 million generated in 2000. “The greatest benefit I see in being an entrepreneur is the potential to accumulate wealth. There is a lot of risk involved, but if you’re successful, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks,” says Downey, who ultimately sees EEC expanding into a $100-million-a-year business with divisions in environmental cleanup, engineering, construction, and real estate development.
CAMILLA A. WHITE
Camilla Amber White hopes to someday rank among the BE 100S and it appears that she’s off to a good start. The 15-year-old CEO of Jam-N-Yams snagged the BLACK ENTERPRISE Kidpreneurs Award, which recognizes entrepreneurs under the age of 18 who serve as role models and are committed to advancing the tradition of black business achievement.
White, who graced the cover of the inaugural issue of Teenpreneur (October 2002), formed Jam-N-Yams at the age of 8. The catering business offers more than 40 kinds of pies, which she sells to local restaurants — to the tune of $9,000 in 2001. “Some might say that you’re too young. But you should do all that you can to achieve your goals. You are never too old or too young to own and operate a business,” says the Flossmoor, Illinois-based student, who was recently honored with the Operation Push Young Entrepreneur Award, as well as the Phenomenal Woman Award by a local Chicago radio station. The next stop for White: Illinois Math and Science Academy, where she started attending classes in the fall.