Young Entrepreneurs Bootcamp’s Christain Shane wins 3rd place in UNLEASH Liberia Hacks 2021

Christain Shane, a then 11th-grade student of Bishop Matthew Norwood High School, applied for the Young Entrepreneurs Bootcamp (YEBC) to build his confidence, enhance his competence, connect with like-minded peers and enjoy the magic of experiential learning. Even though he saw the word “entrepreneurship” on the YEBC’s application form, he had no idea what it meant to be an entrepreneur. Curious and passionate about learning and expanding his network, Christain’s YEBC’s application earned him a full scholarship in the program.

He described the YEBC as “an experience he would never forget”.

“Prior to the YEBC, I had no interest in entrepreneurship and had no understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was my first time attending a program about entrepreneurship. Since the YEBC, I have been fascinated with entrepreneurship.”

The program inspired Christain to think deeply and gave him a gist of what it meant to work in the real world. The YEBC’s adventure — on-site visitations to Liberian-owned enterprises, mentorship sessions, and experience with digital literacy activities amplified the root cause analysis sessions. During the root cause analysis sessions, Christain experienced a pinch of what it meant to be an entrepreneur. Unlike his high school classroom, he was challenged to conduct research and develop creative ideas to address problems in his community and school. His team came in second place in the YEBC’s Social Impact Competition.

After the YEBC, the challenge was on and Christain knew it would take more than just a month of learning to power his entrepreneurial journey. He participated in the Diamond Challenge, an annual entrepreneurship competition for high school students, organized by YONER Liberia. Similar to many aspiring entrepreneurs, Christian did not win his first pitch. Despite it being his first pitching experience out of the YEBC, he did not allow the outcome to discourage him.

One would say Christain was on the hunt for the next stage when he came across the UNLEASH Liberia Hacks 2021 application, two days before its closure. Christain applied for the 100% Digital Hackathon anticipating a rewarding experience. Later, he discovered that he was the youngest participant and the only high school student in the competition.

UNLEASH Hacks are “localized hackathons designed to address sustainability challenges in specific contexts around the world". Organized by UNLEASH Liberia alumni with partnership from UNDP Liberia and other youth-led organizations, The UNLEASH Liberia Hacks 2021 focused on “improving Liberia’s adaptive capacity by integrating Climate Change and Education in Liberia”

“One of the facilitators, Samuel Kpator, encouraged me throughout the program. He said I am smart and I should not feel intimidated.”

Christain struggled to manage the demands of his school work and weekly training sessions. He consulted his teammates daily to keep updated with sessions he could not attend. Despite the challenge, he described the UNLEASH Liberia Hacks 2021 as an amazing learning experience.

However, unlike UNLEASH, “The YEBC was more engaging. We had assigned mentors who helped us throughout the program. What made it even more challenging for me was that I had to attend school during some of the training sessions.”

In addition to root cause analysis, Christian learned problem framing, ideation, and prototyping at UNLEASH. Prototyping was difficult for his team, but at the end of the day, they pitched a project that won third place. The team is aspected to receive a prize fund of $300 USD.

Their project, titled “Childhood Learning Hub Liberia’’, focused on improving primary education in Liberia beginning with Caldwell Community, Montserrado County. The project, through an innovative learning center, aimed to improve the literacy, numeracy, and comprehension skills of primary students in the community. It was designed to give primary students an opportunity to learn new skills after school hours and during school vacations.

“Like the YEBC, we pitched our project on Zoom. I was confident speaking because I had done similar things before.”

When asked whether he wants to become an entrepreneur, his response was a thundering “yes”.

“My entrepreneurial dream is to open an Eco Storage Facility to preserve and process fruits in Liberia.”

Now a 12th-grade student and Secretary-General of the Student Council Government at Bishop Matthew Norwood High School, Christian’s story inspires The Tribe to do more and create innovative programs that will give students first-time experiences, as well as empower them to build vibrant ventures, pursue new challenges and create lasting change in Africa.

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