The Lifting Young and Fostering Entrepreneurship Camp aka LYFECAMP. It's one of those acronym thingys you young people are so keen on using these days. LYFECAMP is a conference designed to help young entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. Before I delve into the whys and so forth, I want to discuss how the idea for LYFECAMP came about. In May of 2013, Chinedu Okoro, Temitope Isedowo, and I met at Stanford University. We had been accepted to the entrepreneurship bootcamp or e-bootcamp that is held at Stanford, and they flew us out to California, wined and dined us, and introduced us to each other, mentors, and investors. While we were enjoying the experience, we came into a conversation about having such a bootcamp in Nigeria. The conversation went a bit liiiike this:
Temitope: It is amazing what the e-bootcamp has pulled together for us. There is nothing like this in Nigeria.
Me (Sola, you know, check the URL, anyway): Someone should do something like this in Nigeria.
Chinedu: Yeah, someone should do something like this in Nigeria. It would be great to have that.
During that pause, we all looked at each other and immediately understood the task. We, the entrepreneurs who had been accepted into this international bootcamp, had to create a similar bootcamp for the entrepreneurs of Nigeria!
We had experienced the pains of the entrepreneurial journey (and we are still experiencing them) firsthand and we know how hard it can be to balance school, extracurriculars, and starting a for-profit organization. It is because we understand that pain so well that we were compelled to create this bootcamp to help Nigerian student entrepreneurs build their businesses, to connect them with other unique individuals who understand the struggle, and hopefully, to connect them with investors and financiers who can provide the sometimes necessary capital to grow the business. Even taking a step back, the co-directors of LYFECAMP, the great volunteers who are already putting in work, and the sponsors of LYFECAMP are doing this not just to help 25 entrepreneurs, but to have a greater impact. Our goal with LYFECAMP is to spur entrepreneurship amongst the youth to reduce youth unemployment, connect young Nigerians with each other and with AMAZING mentors, and finally, to help Nigerians craft their own growth strategy. Let's delve into each of these issues.The World Economic Forum estimates youth unemployment to be at 12.6% worldwide,with an estimated 73 million people between 15 and 24 being jobless. While youth unemployment is at record high rates globally at 12.6%, the youth unemployment rate in Nigeria is triple that at 38%! With 75% of Nigeria's total population consisting of those under 35, a 38% youth unemployment rate implies that there are MANY who are jobless! In fact, YouWin has been created specifically to try and address the issue of youth unemployment head on. Entrepreneurship creates jobs, and we hope by helping entrepreneurs through LYFECAMP, we will not only help the 25 entrepreneurs who come create jobs for MANY of their peers, but also serve as beacons that youth entrepreneurship is a viable means of creating work for yourself and for your peers.
High youth unemployment is a global issue. Another major goal we have with LYFECAMP is to connect entrepreneurs with each other, with very successful mentors, and with investors. The power of connections are severely underestimated! Never Eat Alone does a great job of explaining the power of connections, but I have another example that is even more concrete. The PayPal mafia.
The guys who worked together at PayPal have gone on to create serious wealth, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that they met each other at PayPal. They fund each other's businesses, start companies together, and even serve as best men in each other's weddings! We have not had a PayPal-sized exit in Nigeria yet, but I think it's a matter of time and it is important that we start connecting now so we can create global companies with global talent. Our goal is to connect people to people, but we also want to connect ideas with other ideas. We hope to not just have entrepreneurs build better companies, but have entrepreneurs build NEW companies because of their interactions at LYFECAMP.
Finally, and very importantly, we are putting LYFECAMP together because we believe it is critical that Nigerians are part of Nigeria's economic growth.
|Time and The Economist already know the deal.|
All things considered, we are very excited to organize LYFECAMP and we hope it achieves a quarter of the goals that we have set out for it. Even if we only achieve that quarter, we would have made a difference. Please visit the LYFECAMP site (www.lyfecamp.com), let your friends know about it, apply, tell your cousin to apply, post it in your classrooms, and just let people know. The event will be remarkable with great prizes, great information, and great people! UP LYFECAMP!!!