“I Could Not Have Asked for A Better Introduction to the World of Work”

Nelly Mofokeng is the Executive Director of JA South Africa. She has been with JA since 1998 and has held multiple roles including Business Development and Financial Management. Nelly graduated from the University of Johannesburg with a BA in Tech Business Administration and has a Masters in leadership from the Unisa School of Business Leadership. Read about her JA story below: 

“After completing my final year of high school, I could not afford tuition fees to study further and had no work experience. I did voluntary work at the SA Red Cross Society and was a member of their youth club. That is where I heard about the out of school youth entrepreneurship programme that was offered by Junior Achievement in 1993.  Although I had not considered entrepreneurship as a career option, I was determined to make the most of my experience on the programme. As luck would have it, I was nominated as general manager for our mini company, I could not have asked for a better introduction to the world of work! From holding company meetings to problem solving, team building to actually manufacturing and selling lip balm! 


As a student on the JA programme, I was highly impressed with the overall management of this NGO and most importantly how they interacted with the programme beneficiaries. I knew then that this was one organisation I would like to be associated with in the long run. When the programme ended I requested the programme coordinator to let me know if there were other opportunities. So when JA piloted the Kick-Start Competition in partnership with SA Breweries in 1994, we were recruited and trained as community trainers, to train young people in our communities on how to put together a business plan. I received 1st prize as best community trainer with 4 of my trainees making it to the top ten out of more than 2000 entries.


By now I was so charmed by the JA programme, I was telling everyone I know about this amazing organization.  Almost all my friends and some family members are now JA alumni. So for me JA does as Walt Disney put it, “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends”.


I was first employed at JA South Africa on a part-time basis as a data-capturer in June 1994. Having never worked on the computer before I was determined to make the right impression, I remember how my colleagues would remind me to take breaks much to my irritation at the time. 


Later that year I was recruited to join the JA South Africa team full-time as programme administrator. With support from the organisation I enrolled for National Diploma in Commercial Administration and studied part-time through UNISA. The organisation afforded me opportunities to continue with my studies and at the same time plough back my learnings. Through this thriving environment I managed to study to MBL level and progress my career to Managing Director. I know such achievements would have been unlikely in a different environment and am forever grateful to my superiors who continue to support me in my career progression.”

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