It is almost time! In a few days we will be hosting the annual JA Africa Company of the Year Competition.
From December 6-8 students from 11 countries in Africa where JA works will convene in South Africa to compete at the Company of the Year (COY) Competition. This competition is the culmination of the students’ introductory experiences as entrepreneurs. They will get up on stage to pitch their businesses, display and market their products during a trade fair and answer questions from an impressive (and sometimes intimidating) panel of judges in a Board room setting. The COY is an invaluable experience for students as it exposes them to the world of global business and builds both soft and technical skills.
This competition is a culmination of a year-long learning process for our young participants. For us, learning to manage a business cannot start early enough. We believe that as early as high school youth should be given the knowledge and tools to become entrepreneurs. After all, with school dropout rates in Africa at an average of 50% according to the World Bank and with a growing number of youth entering the workforce being forced into entrepreneurship due to low job creation rates, the path to entrepreneurship should be easier and more accessible. Young people need to know how to start businesses and run them from an early age. In the JA Company Program, they get to do that. At the beginning of the academic year high school students start a company, capitalize it by selling shares and run the company throughout the school year. Professionals from the business world, people just like you, coach and mentor these students in the classroom, helping them learn about business through a hands-on experience. At the end of the year the students compete nationally and the winning teams go on to compete with students from other African countries at the regional competition. This year’s event will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, bringing together over 40 students from 11 countries. For most of the students it will be the first time they are leaving their countries and they will have the daunting task of representing not just themselves and their company but also their school and their country. The winning team will take home the coveted prize of Company of the Year.
This event is made possible by our sponsors, who I want to thank:
- FedEx for the Access Award
- Citi for the Client Focus Award
- Oliver Wyman for the Best Financial Performance Award
- Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the Company of the year Competition, for the Social Impact Award
- Marketo for the Excellence in Marketing Award
- Rogers Capital for the Innovation and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards
- Facebook for the Social Media Award and
- AfroVisionary Legacy for the CEO Rising Award
This event is also made possible by our volunteers, donors and supporters, the over 2,700 people around Africa who gave their time last year to mentor and coach students in and out of the classroom, serve on boards, judge events and contribute financially or otherwise to our programs. I will be reporting back on the outcomes of the competition next month.
The end of this year’s cycle is just the beginning of next year’s cycle. You can become a part of next year’s class of competitors by volunteering or by donating to our work.
The success of Africa’s youth is all of our success. Thank you for investing in the future.
CEO, JA Africa
About JA Africa:
JA Africa is a member of JA Worldwide, one of the largest global organizations focused on the economic empowerment of youth. JA activates youth for the future of jobs through the delivery of in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship training. JA Africa reaches over 230,000 young people in 14 countries in Africa each year. Visit www.ja-africa.org