Our goal is to develop a generation of business leaders through our tech entrepreneurship program, giving students unique learning experiences and hands-on projects to develop their careers and, ultimately, to build the companies that will build Nigeria.
Semicolon launched in January 2019, after founder Sam Immanuel saw an opportunity to make better use of the energy and talent he perceived in Nigeria’s large young-adult population. In Lagos, he saw too many people with university degrees who were unemployed, so he developed a program to help address the lack of opportunity. In Semicolon’s first year, 87 percent of applicants had some form of higher education but no job, confirming the need for the initiative.
Broadly, the one-year program is based on three areas that Sam identified as critical for future business leaders: design thinking, software engineering and business management. The curriculum is composed of four months of theory and eight months of practical projects. It includes critical thinking, ideation, system design, enterprise architecture, common programming languages, analytics, business management and lean startup principles. For the practical section, students can choose to focus on software engineering, data analysis, product design or managing, or tech entrepreneurship. Embracing Afrocentricity and with a focus on family and community, Semicolon refers to its community as “the village” and its students as “natives.”
More than half of Semicolon’s first cohort went on to employment. The school also offers its Idea to MVP program to some graduates with an aim of helping alumni to launch their own businesses. Nine startups were invited into the program from the first cohort. Semicolon makes introductions to VCs and has its own incubation program to fund promising startups. Success for Sam means graduates finding jobs or starting their own companies, and Semicolon making long-term corporate partnerships. The school has partnered with the Founder Institute and forged relationships with other corporate partners, who both hire graduates and provide real-life projects for students to work on during the practical part of the program. Sam has plans to expand the program to admit more students, saying he hopes to “start putting a dent in unemployment.”
Have the right attitude.
We recognize aptitude, but we prioritize attitude. This is an intensive program, and we are trying to solve problems and lift a nation up. We need applicants to be able to commit to the full year and to be disciplined hard workers.
Know which problem you want to solve.
We’re looking for people who have identified problems but might not have the skills or resources to solve them. It is not a requirement, but we look out for ideas well suited to our incubator or to our partners.
Demonstrate curiosity and critical thinking.
No tech knowledge is required because we’ll teach you what you need for your career, but we’re looking for applicants who show curiosity and critical thinking.
Come from a minority background.
Abilities are equally given but opportunities are not. For those reasons we are careful and intentional in who we select.
Students per year: