UIC Student To Speak at Saudi Global Competitiveness Forum

University of Illinois at Chicago undergraduate Ariell Buckingham is heading to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet with business leaders from around the globe at the Global Competitiveness Forum, Jan. 21-24.

Buckingham, a UIC College of Business Administration marketing major and a seasoned entrepreneur, will speak on “The Innovation Generation,” focusing on youth entrepreneurship in America. She is one of four young entrepreneurs attending the annual forum.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Buckingham said. “It’s my chance to make people aware of youth entrepreneurship and the programs that can make it successful.”

Buckingham will spend five days in Riyadh, where she plans to attend workshops, blog during the conference, and learn from the experience shared at the event.

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Buckingham is founder of Smile Entertainment, a children’s party planning service she started in 2007. In 2009, she was named a Global Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which provides entrepreneurship education programs.

She credits programs offered by NFTE and UIC’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies for helping to expand her skill set. “Entrepreneurship is the future, simply put,” she said.

Buckingham hopes to grow her Chicago-based business, hire more employees, and improve upon her product concept. “When I graduate, I want to own my own building for Smile Entertainment and franchise it,” she said.