Our Pilot Project in Lagos, Nigeria

Making Hand-Bags in Lagos

In August 2009, we partnered with a local group to launch our pilot project, YouthBank, in the world’s fastest-growing megacity: Lagos, Nigeria.

The launch came after almost two years of market research, during which we interviewed over 100 street youth in the Mushin and Surulere districts and received feedback from international development experts and local NGO leaders. We screened 50 candidates from seven local “pipeline partner” NGOs to fill eight spots in our photo studio in Surulere.

Support for our pilot came from consultants at McKinsey & Company, Oxford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Seventh Generation Corporation, the Nigeria Network of NGOs, and Freedom Foundation. Over 60 business and community leaders celebrated the launch at the US Consulate in Lagos. We were covered by all major Nigerian newspapers and received invitations to open centers across Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, India, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.

Our YouthBank Fellows graduated in March 2010. Their business pitches were televised and judged by executives and CEOs of prominent Nigerian organizations, including MTN Nigeria, Phillips Consulting, and Verod Capital.

The pilot taught us important lessons about bootstrapping, managing partnerships, working through cultural differences, addressing issues of local control and legitimacy, and handling international transactions transparently.

We built Generation Enterprise using the lessons we learned from our pilot experience. We made the leap from scrappy pilot project to professional social enterprise, and are in the process of building corporate and governmental partnerships to scale our operations and deepen our impact.

The name “Generation Enterprise” better captures who we are: young, vibrant, entrepreneurial, and focused on changing the role of street youth in their communities!