What a wonderful year it’s been for us! The end of the year is always a time for reflection and at JA Africa we are looking back on the past year to take stock of what we’ve accomplished and the impact we’ve delivered.
This year we worked with 199,607 young people in 1,669 schools. Over 2,700 people across Africa volunteered to deliver our curricula, coach and mentor youth and 2,545 teachers and educators who believe in JA’s mission engaged with us to help their students succeed. Compared to the need these numbers seem small, but for many students who experienced JA in their learning journey, the impact was immense. We see the deepest impact each time we interact with the students who have been through our programs.
Earlier this month we celebrated youth entrepreneurship at our annual Company of the Year in Johannesburg, South Africa. The students competing this year truly elevated the level of creativity, innovation and self-confidence that we’ve seen in previous years. They brought ideas and companies in the fields of agriculture, recycling to electronic payment systems. But more important than the ideas was the conviction, the sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy with which they pitched their ideas on stage, during exhibits and in the Board room.
This year, 42 students aged 14 to 20 years from Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe competed. And the Company of the Year Award went to Recycling Industry, a company from Gabon that produces environmentally friendly artefacts household products. Runners up were Digera, a Kenyan company running a digitized cashless payment service which automates purchases and transactions made through the local school canteen and Artistic Scorpions from Swaziland for their wall clocks made with discarded or recycled music and data CDs.
Other winners included:
FedEx Access Award: Wot Art, Uganda
Citi Client Focus Award: Digera, Kenya
Delta Social Impact Award: Wot Art, Uganda
Rogers Capital Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: Recycling Industry, Gabon
Rogers Capital Innovation Award: Candle Lit, Botswana
Facebook Social Media Award: St. Mary’s Very Own, Zambia
Marketo Excellence in Marketing Award: Azurro Ltd., Mauritius
AfroVisionary CEO Rising Award: Tebenguni Ndwandwe, Artistic Scorpions – Swaziland
For me, a big take away from the competition was a reminder of the abilities of students as young as high school age to envision their future and to begin taking steps towards creating it.
Part of JA’s work is about entrepreneurship education at high school, as we believe that in order to change the narrative of employment and unemployment in today’s global job market we need to present to youth the option of self-employment and job creation earlier in their academic careers. The other part of JA’s work is about financial literacy: bolstering the level of financial understanding of our youth in order to increase financial inclusion on the continent and finally work-readiness: getting our young people ready for an increasingly competitive job market in which they vie for opportunity not just with youth in their own cities, countries or continent, but with other from across the world.
The year behind us holds so much accomplishment and the year ahead holds so much promise.
CEO, JA Africa