16 January 2018

East Africa: Yoner-Liberia Partners With University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship Diamond Challenge

Monrovia — Youth Network for Reform (YONER-Liberia) has been accepted as an Official Pitch Site Partner in Liberia for the Horn Entrepreneurship's Diamond Challenge at the University of Delaware in the United States of America.

The Horn Entrepreneurship's Diamond Challenge is a global entrepreneurship competition for high school students.

Students compete for $100,000 in cash and awards that may be used to support their entrepreneurial endeavors or to pursue higher education.

In Liberia, YONER-Liberia coined the Initiative nationally as the "Liberia's First High School Entrepreneurship Competition"- 2018.

The project is supported and funded by the U.S. Embassy, Monrovia, the University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship Program, the Ministry of Youth & Sports of Liberia, the Liberia Broadcasting System and the Starz College of Science & Technology. It is being implemented under the theme: "Creating Sustainable Future for Liberian Youth: Tapping on the Potential of Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation".

The University of Delaware's "Horn Entrepreneurship's Diamond Challenge for High School Students" is an Entrepreneurship Competition for high school students in Montserrado County, and has brought together 40 students, forming 20 Teams from 10 high schools within Paynesville, Monrovia, Brewerville, and Gardnerville cities.

Through Mentorship Institute, on November 9, 2017, students were paired with Mentors/Advisors. Mentors are individuals who have the relevant skills and experiences in entrepreneurship and business management.

Over the last 2 months, mentors have guided students to develop sensible innovative solutions with sustainable business model to solve some of the major challenges in Liberia using seven of the UN SDGs Goals, including; Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Good Health & Well-being, Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, Affordable & Clean Energy, clean water and sanitation and peace, justice & strong institutions, unique to Liberia to solve some of the major challenges in Liberia through scalable and sustainable business models.

Fortunately, by the deadline of submission, January 5, 2018 at 11:59, seventeen (17) Teams from Liberia successfully developed their innovations, Business Concepts and Pitch Decks and submitted.

With the latest results from the Horn Team in the United States, it puts Liberia at 6th Place position out of 25 countries from six continents of the world from the numbers of submissions made by the deadline. This is a great progress and achievement towards our Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation mission in Liberia.

Furthermore, from February 19-25 2018, the students will participate in a one-week innovation lab to co-create and refine their business innovations with the support of experts and guest lecturers and to gain skills in pitching, public speaking, presentations and prototyping.

Also, during the innovation lab, students will be involved in an interactive hands-on-experience tours, courtesy visits, and social and sporting events for development.

We have arranged with the Ministry of Youth & Sports to use the newly constructed Monrovia Vocational & Technical Training Center where we will host the students for the one week and the rest of the project's activities including the Grand Final Pitching and Award Ceremony.

As an outcome of the program, the national finalist in the preliminary round in Liberia will travel to the United States to participate in the global semifinal round during the Diamond Challenge Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2018 in Newark, Delaware.

Winners from the national and global finalist rounds will receive awards to be used to support their startups/ businesses, support their social venture, or pursue a higher education.

We like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the State Department's GIST Program, and the University of Delaware for such a great opportunity and platform. Also, our sincere appreciation goes to the US Embassy Monrovia for its financial and technical support. The Embassy is contributing the highest financial support towards this project.

Furthermore, we like to recognize our students' mentors/advisors who took off time and worked with the students over the last 3 months and used their personal resources, equipment, skills and knowledge to have Liberia at the place in the competition.

Some of our amazing Mentors include, Ms. Nicole Weeks, William Anderson, Wainright Acquoi, Amos Smith, Ms. Laura Targbeh, Joseph M.D. Johnson, Sam Theophilus Wilson, Abraham Varney, Frankie Klar, Herodotus Koryon, Taylor Quinn, Samuel Kpartor, Ms. Valérie Vencatachellum, Chris Lan, Burton Dorley, amongst others.

Finally, we want to thank the Schools' Administrations and parents for their support and cooperation as well as our students and Team of volunteers who made us successfully achieve 8th stage/phase of the 14 stages/stages of the Project.

And a very big thanks to our Executive Director, Jarius Andrew Greaves for his passion and commitment working towards creating an inclusive 'Space' that provides a platform to reunite communities by providing basic services and supports child soldiers and child victims of the war, to heal the wounds created by the civil war through entrepreneurship for reintegration in society as useful and productive citizens.

About YONER-Liberia

Youth Network for Reform (YONER-Liberia), founded in 2008 after Liberia's 14-year civil crisis which claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and many others who were raped and displaced, is a Youth Development Organization in Liberia, established principally for reuniting communities by providing basic services and to support child soldiers and child victims of the war through development and empowerment programs to reintegrate them into the society as useful and productive citizens.

YONER-Liberia's strategic plan is based on both non-profit and for-profit programs: Giving Back to Our Community Action Initiative with seven activities and Entrepreneurship Education Initiative with eight activities.

Both programs have been geared towards community development and youth development as well as preparing young Liberian entrepreneurs to drive the next course of Liberia's growth and development through entrepreneurship and innovation - a global trend for advancement.

YONER-Liberia, which has already helped improve lives of 30,000 children and youth, is committed to changing Liberia's development corporation model by creating wealth and private investments through local actions, and promoting and supporting talents through science, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation as a key strategy to avoid looking up for foreign aid in a country with the best resources and assets (youth) to win others.

The organization hold true to its foundation a Mission to undertake actions that nurture and build honest and able leaders to become self-reliant and agents of positive change within their communities. It envisions a just and developed society where all children and youth will live freely and receive support and opportunities to realize their full potential without any form of discrimination.

Over the period, the organization has secured partnerships with local communities, local youth-led organization, national and international institutions and agencies, which had contributed immensely to the organization's work.

Some of the institutions include, but not limited to the following: Liberian Ministries of Youth and Sports, Education, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection; African Union Youth Division, West Africa Youth Council, U.S. Embassy-Monrovia; U.S. Department of State's Global Innovation through Science and Technology Program, and the University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship's Diamond Challenge Program, amongst others.

All of these institutions have supported YONER-Liberia through technical and/or financial support to enable the functioning and implementation of programs for young people around Liberia.

Currently, the organization is the Lead Organizer of the US Department of State's GIST Techconnect Viewing Group Event in Liberia, an innovative program that is preparing young entrepreneurs in Liberia through connecting them with successful entrepreneurs globally for guidance and mentorship and providing an arid of opportunities in the sector. The program has directly benefited over 1,000 emerging entrepreneurs from five of the 15 counties that make up Liberia.

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