Samford hosted the Lion’s Den Conference this past Thursday in the Wright Center. According to the summit’s event description, its mission is to “inspire, educate, and mobilize.” Three businesses showcased their brand, business and mission to a panel of “Kingdom-focused” panelists who then decided which business to invest in.
Samford students received convocation credit while they listened and learned from these businesses and panelists. The “Lion” panelists were looking for businesses that include their corporate and Christian beliefs in their mission. Lion’s Den has a similar format to the hit TV show, “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneurs present their businesses to a panel of investors.
The first business to present was East African Power (EAP), a company dedicated to developing reusable and clean power sources all over East Africa. EAP battles the energy poverty crisis in Africa by employing thousands of workers and providing both hydro and solar power to thousands of African households since 2012. David Klinick, a Canadian entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of East African Power and said he is guided by “heart and faith.”
The second business to present, Kijani Forestry, focuses on sustainable charcoal production while encouraging the Word of Jesus throughout Africa, specifically in Uganda. Kijani Forestry tackles the issue of deforestation and income discrepancies due to the charcoal industry. Kijani Forestry is dedicated to supplying charcoal farmers with machinery, which will produce more charcoal with less wood, while also providing them a liveable wage. Along with this mission, Kijani Forestry’s Phase I also plants trees and spreads the Gospel to their farmers.
The final company, Open Doors, is dedicated to reformatting and streamlining church costs and efficiencies. Nick Bonner, founder of Open Doors, addresses the issue that most churches do not have access to affordable and adequate facilities. Temporary facilities, he said, only serve to limit churches. Open Doors is a for-profit organization that curates facilities churches can use while incubating newer church plants. Open Doors purchases and renovates real estate for churches to use in order for church leadership to focus on their God-given talents and Christ-focused mission.
The panelists asked thought-provoking questions and offered insight to improve the company’s brand. Entrepreneurs on the panel spent time peeling back the layers of each business model, giving students an immersive experience. At the end of the presentations, students voted for the best business on their phones and are still awaiting the results.
This interactive event left Samford students invigorated and energized to pursue their own goals and seize opportunities before them. With over 250 students in attendance, the Lion’s Den has swiftly become a Samford favorite.