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Ugonna Achebe – JA Nigeria Alumnus recounts his JA experience

I got involved with Junior Achievement Nigeria in secondary school. Our seniors participated in the JA Company Program and we saw how they lit up the school with their entrepreneurial activities. It was finally our turn to showcase what was in us. But there was a little problem; we were about 80 students in our set and only 30 of us were able to participate. Our teacher then came up with a strategy to select 30 students. He numbered pieces of paper from one to eighty and shuffled them. Each student was meant to pick a piece of paper from the basket, and those who picked numbers between one and thirty would be part of the Junior Achievement Company Program. The atmosphere grew so tense, the classroom was rowdy and hot as everyone rushed to pick. I got the chance to pick a paper as quickly as possible and lo and behold it was my lucky number 3. I screamed with excitement and so did some of my close friends. We all knew at that point that we were finally involved in something we all loved; we knew we were in the business of JA’s Company Program.

 

I remember us deliberating on what product or services we could render in the school and how some people felt when their ideas were turned down. My idea was also turned down but went out of my way to prove to the board members that my idea was not just going to make us money but also going to save us time and energy. My classmates wanted to make popcorn in school with little or no experience and I strongly disagreed because I knew we would waste a lot of time and resources before we finally got it right. I went to a woman I knew who had lots of experience in the popcorn business. I bought a few samples for the company’s executives to taste. They loved it so much that they stopped the production of popcorn in school and we contracted the production to ‘Christy popcorn.

Another highlight from my experience was when we were liquidating. We had initially sold shares to students and staff but only a few were willing to invest in our company. We had to beg some of them to buy shares. At the time of liquidation, rumour had it that we had made over 200% profit and the people we had initially begged to buy shares were now on our necks.

 

My JA experience made me understand that people are willing to pay for anything that makes them feel good, happy and comfortable. If you can meet these needs, then you will be successful.

 

Our teacher, Mr. Mordecia Kamsen made us understand that we can achieve anything we put our minds to do. He advised us, worked with us, and made sure that the school management was aware of our progress. I would not have had a proper JA experience without him.

 

Today, I am an educator looking to further my studies in Educational Leadership & Management.

After the Company Program I realized that after our spiritual belief and air, time and relationships are some of the most important factors in life. Anyone who can properly utilize and maximize these two factors will live a good life.

There is an adage that says “you cannot give what you don’t have.” Most people are not motivated, hence, they lack the capacity to motivate others. My motivation comes from within and the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. I always draw my inspiration from John Maxwell and the book of Ecclesiastes.

 

My advice to other young Africans like me is that it is better to die for a dream that would live forever than to live for a dream that will die.

 

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