Accra, Ghana – December 10th, 2019: Forty four high school students from 11 countries in Africa converged in Accra last week for Junior Achievement (JA) Africa’s 2019 Company of the Year competition. The competition brought together young entrepreneurs from Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Also in attendance were government officials, senior business executives, Board Members and other guests.
After a rigorous competition, Relo-Pave Investments from Botswana was selected as the overall winner of the competition, taking home the Company of the Year title as well as a cash prize. The company produces waterless paving bricks. In second place was Edu-Buddies from Eswatini who developed a platform that gives parents access to their children’s academic results, leveraging on USSD technology. Third place went to T.C. Achievers from Nigeria, a company which produces gas leakage detectors.
Over the past year, the students from each country created and ran businesses under the JA Company Program, JA’s flagship entrepreneurship education program for secondary school students. The students had previously competed at the national level to qualify for the regional final.
Event chair, Mr. Bethel Yeboah, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at The Coca Cola Bottling Company of Ghana in his remarks said, “The theme for this year’s Company of the Year competition is ‘Activating Disruptors’. We are looking for people who can take established industries and introduce disruptive ideas and products that can fundamentally change the way business is done. In business, some of the greatest success stories are not necessarily original ideas, but rather imitated ideas that were improved upon.”
Keynote Speaker, Mr. Emmanuel E.K. Awumee, CEO of SESIL Consult, echoed these sentiments, adding that “We need to encourage [youth] and those who have decided to go into careers that direct them towards technical vocations. We need to de-stigmatize the environment. ”
As part of the competition, FedEx Corp. presented the Access Award, which recognizes the company that best exhibits the principles of global connectivity. This year Relo-Pave Investments from Botswana won the award.
The event was also supported by Citi Foundation which, through its “More than Philanthropy” approach, leverages the expertise of its people to fulfill its mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. Citi presented the Client Focus Award, recognizing exceptional leadership in client satisfaction and a high level of commitment to quality customer service to the student company, T.C. Achievers of Nigeria, which developed a device to detect gas leakages.
The Social Impact Award, which recognizes values-driven corporate social responsibility and impact went to Zambia’s Active Innovators and was presented by Delta Air Lines.
Also sponsoring the event was the Swiss-based Tomorrow Foundation, which supported the Future Tech/Innovation Award, which went to Edu-Buddies from Eswatini. The winners created an app which monitors school attendance of children.
As part of the event, an award was given to a startup run by a young out of school entrepreneur. This award was funded by Facebook and given to Wot Art Company’s CEO John Samuel Ewotu from Uganda, who also won a sponsored trip to attend the competition in Accra.
An award for Entrepreneurial Spirit was funded by Kosmos Energy, a premier international oil and gas exploration and production company. This award was also taken home by T.C. Achievers from Nigeria.
Every year, a student CEO of a company is selected for the CEO Rising award, which recognizes exemplary business leadership. LAWtrust, Africa’s leading trust center, security integrator and security solutions supported this award. LAWtrust CEO and JA Africa Board Member, Christi Maherry, traveled from Johannesburg to present the award on stage to Eswatini’s Brian Dlamini, CEO of Edu-Buddies.
This year the judges also gave a special award for Most Improved Team Spirit, to recognize a team that showed significant improvement in team cohesion over the course of the competition. Future Entrepreneurs from South Africa took home this award and received a prize from the IE Foundation.
Other event supporters were Bechtel, African Export-Import Bank, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana Ltd., Newmont Goldcorp Ghana, Bata and L’Oréal.
Below is a full list of the 2019 COY Competition award winners:
Entrepreneurship education is a critical pathway to solve the growing youth employment challenge in Africa and JA’s mission is to bridge this gap. JA Africa prepares youth for the future of jobs through the delivery of in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship training, reaching over 250,000 young people in 15 countries in Africa each year. JA Africa is a member of JA Worldwide, one of the largest global organizations focused on the economic empowerment of youth. View pictures from this year’s competition here.