As seen on Business Insider Nordic on August 23, 2018
She’s one of 16 young entrepreneurs gathered at Norrsken House in Stockholm to sell their ideas to an expectant audience on a normal Tuesday night.
Lilly’s weapon for bringing change in conflict zones is entrepreneurship.
The gathering in Stockholm is part of a collaboration between the American organization Seeds of Peace and SE Forum from Sweden. Both organizations focus on social entrepreneurship in developing countries and they have come together to create a one-year program for entrepreneurs.
“In December, when the program ends, we want them to have found their business model, and tested and developed their idea enough that it has financial viability,” says Nicklas Wallberg, CEO of SE Forum.
“Many young people in the Western world don’t know how it feels to flee. I want to give them a little more insight in order to shift the perception of refugees and the attitude towards them,” Lilly explains.
Lilly was born in New York a year after her parents fled from the revolution in Iran. For her, the family’s flight has meant a lot of things – amongst them a feeling of not belonging and many unanswered questions.
As of 2006, Lilly lives in London and the past five years she’s worked as the director of talent at Maker Studios, a digital media agency bought by Disney in 2013. At Maker Studios she worked with some of the world’s foremost Youtubers, not least Pewdiepie. Many of them loved playing Minecraft.
That was how her idea was born.
She enlisted the aid of these Minecraft experts and developed a game in which you embark on a journey in the shoes of a refugee.
“I’ve developed a beta version, and now I’m going to adjust it based on feedback from players. I expect it to be completed in three to four months.”
But the game is only a beginning. Or rather, it’s the first part of a program she’s developed for schools.
“We’re going to take the students on an eight week long experience and after they’ve played the game they get to discuss their own relationship to migration. Every family has passed a border at some point.”
Lilly has already got a few schools on board in which the concept will be tested, and the program is helping her find new contacts. Presently she’s financing the project with her own savings, but when the concept is validated she’s planning to take in external capital.
“I think I will need about £20,000 initially,” Lilly says.