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2012 EIEA Collegiate Business Concept Challenge winner Betitala Sinda Mbala and contest judges

An Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) senior is now well on her way to turning her business concept into a true business venture after winning $1,000 in cash and an offer of donated office space.

Betitala Sinda Mbala, an international business major, has been named the winner of the 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) Collegiate Business Concept Challenge. Mbala said she plans to use her $1,000 cash award from the competition along with other offers of assistance to start Nesiyah, an online business and social network.

Nesiyah, inspired from the Hebrew word, “Nesi’ah,” which means journey or travel, is based on the concept of ridesharing, where people carpool in common vehicles to and from popular destinations.

Mbala’s winning concept immediately drew the attention of EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) and its director, Ian Mooers.

“The Business Accelerator at EKU is providing office space and a $1,000 match of Beti’s EIEA award so she can start her business now. We want to do as much as we can to support our student entrepreneurs, and help them achieve their dreams.”
Ian Mooers, director
EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET)

CEDET houses the Eastern Region Innovation and Commercialization Center (ICC), a Small Business Development Center and Entrepreneur Service. It also houses office space for clients of the ICC Business Accelerator, more commonly known as an incubator.

The core mission of Nesiyah, which was born from an idea Mbala received while studying in France last fall, is to facilitate and promote the transportation of people in a more cost-effective, earth-friendly, and social way.

“I believe that Nesiyah will be the answer to a lot of people’s prayers,” Mbala said. “We live in a world where gas prices are rising by the day, and public transportation is often very difficult or non-existent all together in a lot of American towns.”

Mbala’s business concept for Nesiyah was one of four innovated ideas presented before a panel of judges at the ninth annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Collegiate Business Concept Challenge.

Other finalists in the competition and a brief summary of their business ideas are as follows:

  • Carolyn Wurzelbacher: The EKU student pitched a new business for embellished jeans, “Jean It Up,” featuring personalized designs through fabric paints.
  • M. Syeed Siddique: The Berea College student proposed Global EHR Solutions LLC, an enterprise software development company that provides certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) solutions to health-care providers.
  • Salvador Carmona, Clint Jones, and John Johnson: The University of the Cumberlands trio presented a concept for “Food 2U,” a food delivery service from local restaurants within the city limits of Williamsburg for customers too busy to go out and have lunch or dinner.

The Collegiate Business Concept Challenge is a component of the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program, which annually honors the region’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Students from Southern and Eastern Kentucky universities, colleges, and community colleges are invited to submit business ideas and compete for cash awards and professional consultation at the competition.

Mbala and her faculty sponsor, Dr. Weiling Zhuang, who also received a $250 cash award from the competition, will be recognized this September at the 2012 EIEA awards luncheon at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

EIEA—honoring excellence since 2001—recognizes success in entrepreneurship by honoring businesspeople and entrepreneurs in 55 Kentucky counties who have created and are managing a successful enterprise.

EIEA sponsoring partners include EKU’s College of Business and Technology, the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, The Center for Rural Development, and its newest partner, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED).

For more information about the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Collegiate Business Concept Challenge, go to

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