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There are now more students coming out of institutions of higher learning holding advanced degrees than there have been at any particular time in history. This scenario is replicated virtually across the countries around the globe; with the developing countries bearing the extreme cases of the scenario.

Ironically, you find that the skills attained at the institutions of higher learning are not particularly the skillsets in demand in the current job market. So most employers find themselves having to guide their newest recruits fresh off the university to arm them with the industry-relevant skills.

However, in most countries – especially developing countries – most graduates actually find themselves in a 9-5 job of searching for a job. There are not enough jobs in the first place to provide the graduate the opportunities to realize they lack industry-relevant skills. The graduate also come out of institutions of learning, having the mindset and skills to become an employee; not entrepreneurship.

The Draper University

The Draper University touts itself as one of a kind institution of higher learning focusing on equipping learners with industry-relevant skills. In our today’s feature, we sat down with Mareme Dieng, Head of Partnerships & International Relations at Draper University, who shared with us the various programs at the university that ensures graduates are armed with not just industry-relevant skills, but also entrepreneurial skill to create jobs.

Tell us about Draper Campus

“At Draper University, there are now more than 2000 alumni from over 86 countries replicating the Tim-Draper-esque disruptive model in their home countries and in the US. The results are phenomenal – more than 700 startups have been created that have raised over USD 367 million dollars. The focus at Draper University is to provide transformational pro-business and entrepreneurship training. The learning programs are substantially unique. They are not only unconventional methods that help dismantle traditional lecture-style teaching styles but practically mirror real world scenarios and pragmatic learning methods. The most important aspect of this learning methodology is to empower the student with the path to gaining knowledge and skills. They are taught to be CEOs by allowing them to think like a CEO at the institution itself. The gap between academia and industry at Draper University almost doesn’t exist.

The Draper University campus in Africa will be a residential place for entrepreneurs to meet, interact with mentors and connect with resources to accelerate their businesses. While present on the campus, entrepreneurs will have access to an online entrepreneurial education and physical mentorship. They will be connected to local and international investors, mentors, corporate clients and fellow entrepreneurs”

Tell us about the Draper Global Ecosystem

The Draper Global Ecosystem focuses on creating relationships with governmental and non-governmental institutions internationally in order to create entrepreneurship hubs throughout the globe. Launched by Draper University, the Draper Global Mission is an initiative to connect Silicon Valley to the development of innovation internationally. Draper Global’s main objective is to accompany international markets in their innovation and entrepreneurship advancement, as well as facilitating the creation of innovation hubs in those regions. DGE positions itself as a central actor in the development of innovation and entrepreneurship internationally and guides governments in the best practices to adopt in order to turn their environments into catalysts of innovation. The mission of the institution is to create, consult, connect, support and fund the emergence of numerous innovative ecosystems around the world.

How do African developers stand to benefit

The Draper Global Ecosystem aims to create an ecosystem hub in Africa by 2025 and support the continent in their efforts to build unicorn companies. This hub will be interconnected with the Silicon Valley Draper campus where online education, physical acceleration and mobility takes a new level. This hub will become an integration of the fundamental elements of the ecosystem and will create a direct path for entrepreneurial education, acceleration, mentorship, funding, networking and collaboration. It will be strongly interconnected with each other and with the Silicon Valley hub in order to ensure to the startups an access to an indefinite pool of market and investment opportunities.

How does one join the program?

By applying to our programs on our website or reaching out to me directly – Mareme Dieng ([email protected])


About Mareme Dieng

Mareme is currently the head of international partnerships and relations at Draper University and a member of Draper University Ventures. She had a 3-year experience working previously as a program manager for Draper University, an intensive entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley before endorsing her current position. She is also a current graduate nominee on the board of Trustees of Bennington College and is involved in the decision making body of the College. She has also worked as the Hackathon Manager at Schoolab, an innovation studio based in Paris that offered consultancy in innovation to top European corporates.

Mareme has created content for innovation workshops and been an active content developer for innovation and entrepreneurship programs. She has spoken at numerous conferences such as the Blockchain Summit, the AI Summit, Afric’Up Summit, etc. Mareme has worked for research centers in Paris (CNRS) and Senegal (ISM). After having lived and worked in Senegal, South Africa, France and the United States, she devoted her work to human development and structuring systems that maximize individuals’ potential.

She has worked with several educational organizations such as ISM Senegal and the Global Scholar Programs in Johannesburg and has developed with them different educational models in order to promote entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation within the African education system.

She has worked with the Global Startup Ecosystem on the Programmation of the Ghana Tech Summit and the Haiti Tech Summit which both took place in 2018. She has also worked with the Lumina Foundation based in Indianapolis through a research project with Bennington College on investigating work-integrated learning and the ways we prepare college students for the workforce​

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