On Oct. 14, 2021, Samford University and Cedarworks Inc. joined together to present the 8th annual Lion’s Den pitch competition aimed toward advancing the Kingdom through Business-as-Mission (BAM). This hallmark event has elevated engagement opportunities for Samford students since its inception in 2014.
The 2021 Shark Tank-style event welcomed business leaders from around the world and featured three BAM companies who presented their business plans to a live audience and a judging panel of “lions.” The companies, Kijani Forestry, East African Power and Open Doors, were evaluated by the lions on their ability to produce financial, social, conservation and spiritual results, known as the quadruple bottom-line.
In Uganda, over one million acres of trees are cut down every day for charcoal production. With forests being depleted, there is an increasing wood shortage causing a steep charcoal price increase. Through establishing tree nurseries, Kijani Forestry aims to reverse the rampant deforestation in Uganda through a scalable, financially sustainable and holistic business model.
East African Power
East African Power (EAP) is a long-term, social-impact-oriented business that develops, builds and operates small and medium hydro and solar power plants in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through integrated renewable energy development, EAP delivers affordable and reliable clean energy to less privileged countries in the area.
Open Doors stresses the importance of having a physical building for a church to meet by resembling the business model of shared office spaces. Primarily operating in dense urban areas, Open Doors spaces are accommodating for several church bodies to meet while also having the capability to provide childcare services.
Josh Blazer, a finance and economics major, interned for The Lion’s Den this year.
"It was great to be surrounded by so many experienced business professionals who also had a passion for Christ,” Blazer said. “It was great to see how each person I interacted with used their skills and talents in business to advance the Kingdom of God. Helping with this event has opened my eyes about how to live my life on mission in the workplace. I am now much more connected and have a better career direction. Involvement in this event has given me a lot to think and plan about for my future career path."
Camilla Lemons, a senior Brock Scholar, was The Lion’s Den intern in 2020. This year, she was invited to participate on the panel of lions.
“I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the Lion’s Den for the past two years,” Lemons said. “The event is a great way for students to connect with the global business-as-mission network and gain exposure to businesses around the world. It is so inspiring to see business leaders leveraging their unique gifts for the kingdom and challenges me to think critically about how I will do the same in my future career.”
Campus-wide opportunities like The Lion’s Den affirm Samford’s #1 ranking for undergraduate student engagement by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education.