JA Kenya hosted its 20th Anniversary celebration on 17th May, 2019. The event was held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi, and attended by guests from the Kenyan corporate community, donors, supporters, staff and alumni. Also in attendance was the US Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Kyle McCarter.
The celebration began with a welcome address by former JA Kenya Board chair, Bill Lay. This was followed by a panel discussion on the future of work for young Kenyans under the theme “Pathways to Progress”, responding to the priority initiative of Citi and Citi Foundation, who were part sponsors of the event.
This theme was informed by the need to create an enabling environment for young people to get and create jobs for themselves and others. Comprising the panel for this discussion were Member of Parliament, John Kiarie, serial entrepreneur, Ciiru Waweru, and Tendai Mtana, owner of Gabriel’s Ark.
John Wali, Executive Director for JA Kenya, lauded the philanthropic work of Citi, emphasizing the need for investing in entrepreneurship education for young Kenyans. He said, “A solution to the poverty problem is entrepreneurship education, not just for the sake of setting up a business but for mindset change.”
Michael Mutiga, Managing Director of Citi Kenya and JA Kenya’s Board chair, affirmed Citi’s commitment to empowering young Africans through programs that give them the impetus to be successful in future. He said “Citi has been a partner of JA Kenya since the very onset 20 years ago. As an institution, we have invested in JA’s work through our ‘Pathways to Progress’ initiative and we are proud to be partners of JA worldwide.”
The event concluded with words from the former board chair of JA Kenya, Norah Odwesso, who remarked that, “jobs come about as a result of an enabling environment. When there is an enabling environment, you have economic stimulus and when there is economic stimulus people and jobs thrive. Youth empowerment speaks to the core of human value and that is what JA is about.”