One of the questions we ask ourselves often at JA Africa is how do we know we are making an impact on the lives of young people?
JA Africa prides itself as an organization with integrity and transparency. Rigorous practices are put in place to ensure timely and accurate reporting. JA Africa tracks data from our programs including completion rates, student reach and volunteer engagement. We analyze pre and post student survey results. Student surveys tell us if students moved toward a favorable attitude on dimensions such as 1) the importance of gaining skills for their future careers now or 2) the importance of being attentive to the industry they aspire to work in as examples of practical impact. We take great care to ensure that this data is accurate, consistent and of high quality.
JA programs are generally delivered within a school year and students surveys are compared before and after the program. Attention is given to avoid an inflated number of schools or students reached. Data is also captured and disaggregated by gender and age. Why is this important: because it helps us be accountable and it helps us to learn. At Junior Achievement we set ambitious goals for ourselves. Last year we reached over 230,000 students in 4,500 classrooms in over 2000 schools across all 14 countries where we work. That adds up to almost 3 million contact hours with our students. In the coming years we hope to more than double our student reach if we are to make a notable difference in moving the needle on youth unemployment on the continent.
Numbers are important, but how we measure impact goes beyond the members? One of the best ways we do this is by hearing the stories of alumni; who have been through the programs, and who share stories of how JA impacted their life trajectories.
Take Daniel Antwi in Ghana. Daniel is the co-founder of the People Initiative Foundation, which nurtures and mentors the talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing Africa. He told me “the best decision I made in high school was to join the Junior Achievement Club. I was the marketing executive. As a team we floated shares for students to buy with their pocket money. We marketed the idea in classrooms, dining halls and on notice boards, and then used the revenue to buy real shares in a real company. As a social entrepreneur today I realize my magic in public speaking, business acumen, marketing skills and people skills all came from my association with JA.”
JA South Africa alumnus Kerry Dawkins, who is now a successful talent specialist also reached out to me to share her JA story: “When I think of what gave me the confidence to run my own business I am taken back to my experience with JA. I was 16 or 17. I was the financial director of my JA company. It gave me a good understanding of business without all the fancy terms. It was such a great experience. I’ve always had my own business. The basic understanding that I can do this came from JA.”
Lastly, I read the testimony of young Sihlongonyane Tembuso from Ndzevane High School in Swaziland who took part last month at a job shadow hosted by JA Swaziland, where she spent the day at the offices of PWC. She wrote: “I have always envisioned myself in a career in accounting, but I did not have a clear picture of what it really entails to be an accountant until I was attached at PWC where I had the opportunity to be a part of a team of auditors. It was such a great learning experience. The team there gave their time to help me grasp what it means to be an auditor. Going back home, I am determined to work hard in order to qualify for this profession. I believe my passion will carry me through.”
Success happens at the intersection of passion, purpose and preparedness. At JA we work on building preparedness for young people. Wherever they are in their career, people need value either as employees or as entrepreneurs and we give them the tools to do that.
At JA Africa we believe in the boundless potential of Africa’s youth and we invest in change makers. The results and the difference are visible all across the continent.
Thank you for your support.
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff
CEO, JA Africa