``Celebrity Apprentice'' Star Nely Galan Inspires Women Entrepreneurs at Make Mine a Million $ Business(TM) Event in Hollywood: 10 High-Potential Woman Business Owners Receive Resources to Grow Million-Dollar Companies

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The Make Mine a Million $ Business program launched an ambitious 2008 with a red carpet event at The Globe Theatre in Universal Studios Hollywood on January 23. More than 1,200 women from across the country applied to compete in Los Angeles of whom 20 were chosen as finalists. After delivering electrifying "elevator pitches" to a panel of judges and a packed audience, 10 received awards based on their poise, business acumen, and growth potential.

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The Make Mine a Million $ Business community added a new crop of diverse businesses in Los Angeles, everything from a stylish lingerie retailer to a design firm with celebrity clientele

    Miracle Wanzo, president of Hipundies.com, wowed the audience by convincing them that there isn't anything in the world that a woman wears that makes her feel as good as fabulous lingerie. Lee Gilbert, founder and CEO of CycleAware, Inc., talked about how her patented products make bike riding safe and fun for the whole family. Lynette Jee, owner of Pacific Place, Inc. proved to have the prefect blend of business savvy as Hawaii's best purveyor of fine teas. A full list of awardees is included below.

"The Make Mine a Million $ Business program inspires women to believe in themselves and realize their dreams," said Nell Merlino, founder and president of Count Me In. "The entrepreneurs in our community are the can-do game changers who don't take no for an answer and are determined to build companies that drive innovation, build their communities, and support their families."

The 10 Los Angeles awardees join a prestigious group of Make Mine a Million $ Business winners, now totaling 112. Launched in 2005 by Count Me In, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources and business education for women entrepreneurs, and founding partner OPEN from American Express(R), Make Mine a Million $ Business is the leading national program to raise awareness of the growth challenges facing post-start-up, women-owned businesses, and provides entrepreneurs across the country with growth tools that make a direct impact in helping them build thriving businesses.

The movement is inspiring one million women entrepreneurs by the year 2010 to declare their intent to reach revenues of $1 million. Each Make Mine a Million $ Business awards package provides a combination of money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools that women entrepreneurs need to help grow their businesses.

"The Make Mine a Million $ Business community added a new crop of diverse businesses in Los Angeles, everything from a stylish lingerie retailer to a design firm with celebrity clientele," said Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, Director of Advocacy Marketing, OPEN from American Express. "The commonalities between all of our awardees - from the first class in 2005 until today - are the love of their craft, their ability to lead, and their willingness to take calculated risks."

The Hollywood event was headlined by keynote presentations from Nely Galan, Latina media mogul and celebrity contestant in the hit NBC series "The Celebrity Apprentice" and Stephanie Schaffer, winner of "The Apprentice" in 2007. Galan, former President of Entertainment at Telemundo and creator of the hit reality series "The Swan," competed to win $250,000 for the Make Mine a Million $ Business program as one of the contestants on the television series "The Celebrity Apprentice."

The program launched an educational platform at the event to provide the 50,000-strong Make Mine a Million $ Business community with advice on business issues like cash flow, credit and managing money.

Corporate sponsors that are spearheading the movement include OPEN from American Express, AIG, FedEx, Cisco, Dell, Marriott and Jet Blue.

Los Angeles Awardees

The following 10 women were selected as new members of the Make Mine a Million $ Business program based on their ability to build significant and sustainable companies with the growth potential to achieve $1 million or more in annual revenues.

-- Miracle Wanzo, of Vallejo, CA-based Hipundies.com (http://www.hipundies.com), an online retailer of contemporary designer lingerie, loungewear, and sleepwear

-- Lee Gilbert, of Aptos, CA-based CycleAware Inc. (http://www.cycleaware.com), a company that designs, manufactures and sells safety products for cyclists, and inline skaters

-- Kelly Moore, of Irvine, CA-based Moore Benefits, Inc., (http://www.moorebenefitsinc.com), an insurance broker of employee benefits for group health plans in the small and mid-sized market

-- Kishani Perera, of Beverly Hills, CA-based Fuse i.d. (http://www.fuse-id.com), an interior design firm that focuses on high end and celebrity clients

-- Rebecca Reichardt, of Woodland, CA-based Tazzina Bistro (http://www.tazzinabistro.com), an upscale neighborhood American restaurant

-- Molly Haefele, of Denver, CO-based Gasher-Brum Energy Partners Corporation (http://www.gasherbrum.com), an executive search and consulting firm

-- Lynette Jee, of Honolulu, HI-based Pacific Place, Inc. (http://www.pacific-place.com), a gourmet tea company

-- Doris Ng, of Appleton, WI-based GingeRootz Asian Grille, a full service Asian restaurant

-- Shannon McLinden, of Frisco, TX-based Summer Soles (http://www.summersoles.com), manufacturer and retailer of bath, body, and foot care items

-- Jennifer Bonora, of Hauppauge, NY-based Family First Home Companions (http://www.familyfirsthomecompanions.com), provider of non-medical in-home support services to the elderly and disabled adult populations

Awardees receive:

-- Inspiration, coaching and mentoring from Count Me In(TM)

-- Up to $50,000 in financing from OPEN from American Express(R), financial consultation and promotion in marketing and media campaigns

-- Cisco Smart Business Communications network from Cisco Systems(R) valued at up to $20,000 for one awardee

-- Discounts from FedEx(R) select shipping and office and print services

-- A $500 gift certificate for hotel stays at any Marriott(R) in the U.S

-- Dell Vostro Notebook(TM), built exclusively for small business valued up to $1000, from Dell(R)

-- A round-trip flight certificate to any of 54 domestic cities from Jet Blue

The next Make Mine a Million $ Business event will be held in Phoenix, Arizona on March 4, 2008. Applications for the Arizona program close on February 15, 2008. To apply for the event or join the Make Mine a Million $ Business community, please visit http://www.makemineamillion.org.

About Count Me In

Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of on-line business loans and resources for women to grow their micro businesses into $million enterprises. Find us at http://www.countmein.org or call 212-245-1245.

About OPEN from American Express

OPEN from American Express is dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. OPEN supports business owners with exceptional service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPEN(SM), visit OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Company (http://www.americanexpress.com) is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

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