Published on November 1, 2017 by Philip Poole  
Video poster image

A company that helps legal refugees enter the work force was voted “best survivor” at the 2017 Lion’s Den event hosted by Samford University Oct. 26. The fourth annual event drew a capacity crowd of people from seven countries, 25 states and 65 cities around the world who came to see four international entrepreneurs present in a Shark Tank style format. 

The Lion’s Den is an annual educational event hosted by Cedarworks, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate, and mobilize people to use their time, talents, and other resources in the Kingdom through Business as Mission. 

The four finalists were chosen from a pool of more than forty entrepreneurial companies operating as Business as Mission. These international entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to a capacity audience of more than 300, and then the audience voted on the business that had the best likelihood of their business model would survive and attract investors. 

The companies also presented in front of a panel that looked for how the companies would focus on producing financial, social, environmental and spiritual impact in their chosen endeavors, also known as the “quadruple bottom-line” in The Lion’s Den applicant criteria. 

This year, Amplio Recruiting was voted the best survivor among the companies who presented at this year’s Lion’s Den by ‘live’ audience voting.  Luke Keller, a 2012 Samford business graduate, is one of the principals with Amplio Recruiting.  

“We are proud of the mission-orientation and business success Luke is helping Amplio produce,” said Howard Finch, Dean of the Brock School of Business.  “Our curriculum emphasizes the opportunity to do good for others while doing well through business success.” 

The 2017 finalists of The Lion’s Den were: 

Amplio Recruiting, a staffing agency that places refugees who have legally settled in the United States with companies. With offices in four cities, the company finds talent in the refugee community and employs them on a short-term contract with companies that will hire them full-time once the contract is complete. 

OWP Pharmaceuticals, Inc., of West Chicago, Illinois. OWP’s line of branded generic anti-epileptic medications combine the low-cost nature of generics with the consistent nature of branded drugs. Profits from OWP are used by its shareholder, the ROW Foundation, to provide medication to people and countries often overlooked and neglected. 

Soma Games, a Newburg, Oregon-based company that makes video games for the mainstream market based on what 20th century theologian C.S. Lewis called “latent Christianity.” They are set to release the first game based on the Redwall book series.

Sseko Designs, based on Portland, Oregon, and Uganda. The company is the largest exporter of non-agricultural goods from Uganda and provides employment and college scholarships for high potential young women in Uganda. 

Al Caperna, chairman of Century Marketing Group, consisting of 5 related companies that sells to retail and industrial companies internationally, was recognized by Cedarworks as the Business as Mission Operator of the Year. Caperna also founded Affirm Global Development to empower entrepreneurs globally in setting up businesses. 

This year’s event also included a professional summit to provide additional opportunities to learn about Business as Mission. The summit included breakout sessions focused on topics ranging from structuring business growth and talent development to business creation and opportunities in East Africa.  

Planning is under way for Samford to host the fifth event and professional summit in October 2018 on campus. To see these companies, watch the event and gain news about 2018, visit

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.