The guru, the animated T-shirt and the free shares: Warren Buffett backs young entrepreneurs

Billionaire speculator Warren Buffett has given away $13,000 worth of highly-prized shares in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, to a group of budding entrepreneurs aged under 16.

Buffett, who has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to charity, awarded the shares to the 15 finalists of the Grow Your Own Business Challenge.

The competition was a spin-off of The Secret Millionaire, an animated series featuring Buffett that encourages entrepreneurship and good financial habits among young people.

Each of the young entrepreneurs pitched ideas to a panel of judges, who assessed the concepts for business potential and positive social impact.

Along with Buffett’s gift of shares in his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, worth more than $84 each, the competition also had individual and team winners.

Ten-year-old Aria Eppinger won the individual prize. Her business idea, called Shine So Bright, involves the sale of animated t-shirts.

“I came up with Shine So Bright when my family was making light up sweatshirts at the holidays,” she told the Grow Your Own Business Challenge website. “It took forever for my dad to finish soldering my sweatshirt.”

“I wanted a quick and easy way to make a beautiful light up design on any piece of clothing.”

“Shine So Bright will sell a kit that contains LEDs, coloured conductive thread, switches and batteries through an online website.”

“I will first find a manufacturer, have the kit packaged and then market and sell them on a website and at places like JoAnne Fabrics and Michaels.”

“My customers will be people who want to have bright, cheery clothes that are easy and inexpensive. Shine So Bright is a great family activity, and can be done in social groups such as Girl Scouts and parties.”

Eppinger told CNN Money that she had given away some of her winnings to a food bank, a school, and an animal rescue centre.

The team prize went to Deals on Wheels, a customisable, portable school store that sells school supplies and healthy snacks to students.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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