Donate Now

© 2018 Photo by Lee Central Media Literacy Class (Pictured left to right: Jasmine Johnson, Karen Alexander, Anita Staggers, Asya Harris)



Auntie Karen Young Entrepreneurs Conference Winners Receive The Deborah Woodard Memorial Scholarship Award




Deborah Woodard (September 13, 1956 – January 23, 2009) actively served on the Auntie Karen Foundation Board. Her favorite program was the Young Entrepreneurs Conference. Since 2009, a scholarship in her honor is given to the winner of the Young Entrepreneurs Showcase.



(November 15, 2018 SC) – Columbia, S.C. The Auntie Karen Foundation is pleased to announce its 2018 Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The winners received a scholarship in honor of Auntie Karen Board Member Deborah Woodard. Anita Stagger (original candles) was named the 2018 Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Honorable mention was awarded to Asya Harris (organic farmer) and Jasmine Johnson (opera singer).




Auntie Karen’s 16th Annual Young Entrepreneurs Conference took place on October 13, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on the campus of Benedict College in Columbia, SC. Over100 youth between the ages of 5 and 22 attended this event.  The founder Karen Alexander states, “Our mission is to continue to create a program that will nurture entrepreneurship in young people. We want to provide conference attendees with the opportunity to gain skills in areas not traditionally afforded to them.”



This year’s theme was “WAKANDA: Full S.T.E.A.M Ahead”.  Subject areas included: identifying entrepreneurial skills, marketing your business, and understanding business finance tools. This one-day event serves as a world-class conference to bring youth 7 to 22, from across the state and region, together to gain skills in areas not traditionally afforded to them.  Each year, up to 150 students from across the region participate in this thought provoking conference, which is offered through a cooperative effort between the Auntie Karen Foundation, The Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Economics at Benedict College, and various community sponsors.


In addition to the conference, there was “Successville” the Youth Business Expo and Showcase. “Successville” was free and opened to the public from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the David H. Swinton Campus Center, 1616 Oak Street, Columbia, South Carolina. The showcase included Young Entrepreneurs, Dancers, and Musical Acts.



Additional Information


Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Anita S. Staggers, Kehlani Jaii


Anita S. Staggers is the 16-year-old owner of Candles by Kehlani Jaii.  She is a Junior at Blythewood High School in Blythewood, South Carolina. She is the only child of Michael & Violet Staggers.  Anita has been creating all type of scented candles for the past 3 years.  It all began as a special Christmas present for her Mom.  Her mother praised her gift so much that they thought it might be a good idea to sell some candles.  Anita creative juices stated to flow and as she made candles she would share them with a few neighbors, then her parent’s co-workers and a local store that provided a shelf to display and sell Candles by Kehlani Jaii.  Anita currently has a booth at the flea market where she sells her candles every weekend.



Runner Ups:


1st Runner Up: Aysa Harris, Aysa’s Organic Farms


Asya Harris was born in Columbia, SC on August 18, 1998. Asya grew up in Sumter, South Carolina on the farm. Asya is the granddaughter of Azeez and Fathiyyah Mustafa, and daughter of Shaheed and Yolanda Harris. Asya’s first job was given by her grandfather Azeez Mustafa. Her job was to feed and water the baby chickens at the age of five years old. That’s when she started her first savings account. At the age of six, Asya continued to keep her first job, caring for the chickens, and also decided to start selling organic vegetables, herbal supplements, and herbal teas with her parents at local farmer markets. At the age of nine she entered into entrepreneurship, Asya has an essential oil and incense business with investment money she received from her grandparents.



2nd Runner Up: Jasmine J Johnson, Opera Singer


Jasmine J Johnson is the ten-year-old daughter of Percy and Stephanie John­son. Shortly before her sev­enth birthday, Jasmine was visiting her maternal grand­mother who was repeatedly playing a gospel spiritual CD sung by renowned op­era singer Kathleen Battle. Jasmine excitedly let her grandmother know that she could “sing just like that lady!” When her grand­mother heard her sing, she quickly realized that Jasmine was a “natural”. Jasmine has been privileged to glorify God by singing Christian opera before congregations, the Festival of Roses in April 2016, and was invited to sing in Columbia, South Carolina for the Mayor and his Council members. Jasmine recorded a demo CD in January 2017 with five songs. She also enjoys reading and horseback riding.



The Auntie Karen Foundation is a global, 501(c) 3 charitable corporation based in Columbia, SC. To learn more about the Auntie Karen Foundation, visit





Follow Us

Contact Information:

PO Box 602

Columbia, SC  29202


  2013 - 18 Auntie Karen Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 organization. All Rights Reserved