The last quarter of the year is usually our busiest time of the year as we gear up to start new programs for the new academic year AND prepare for the National Company of the Year competition in October, from which we select the JAN student company that will represent Nigeria at the Africa Company of the Year competition in December. This year’s Q4 has been exceptionally busy because more companies and individuals are asking JAN to partner with them in their quest to also increase financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship skills in young people.
I was pleased to present the winners of the JAN Access Bank Entrepreneurship Essay Competition with their awards in September. It was a pleasant surprise to see three women emerge as top three winners because it shows that more young women are stepping up to address problems in our society and that can only lead to powerful results as we encourage them to develop solutions to those problems.
During this quarter we also marked the 90th anniversary of my alma mater, Queen’s College Lagos, so it was my honor to work with the members of the Class of 1992 (who were celebrating their 25th anniversary) to develop and implement a leadership development seminar for 400 senior secondary students at the school. I hope this opens the way for JAN to do more programs in what used to be Nigeria’s leading school for girls so as to contribute towards restoring the school to its former glory.
This year’s NCOY competition was phenomenal!!! I am so grateful to our judges: Sanyade Okoli, Adebola Fatokun, Danladi Verheijen, Adebola Williams, Gbenga Omolokun and Seyi Ajibola, who questioned, encouraged, mentored and pushed all our student teams to bring out their best as they presented their student companies to a room full of business professionals. Though one team emerged winner overall, the nine teams that participated gained valuable skills no one can ever take away from them. If they ever have to present a business idea to an investor again, they will be well prepared for the experience. Thank you to our sponsors at Deloitte and Techno Oil and our keynote speaker, Mrs. Nkechi Obi, who took time out of her busy schedule to give a heartfelt and encouraging speech to our budding entrepreneurs.
The very next day after the NCOY competition was the Delta Innovation Camp, which was also a fantastic experience for 200 participating students. The camp started with a workshop on design thinking facilitated by Omolara Yeku and Segun Olalandu, from our Board Member Accenture, during which students’ brains were stretched to think beyond the obvious to find unique solutions to problems. Then the Delta Air Lines team presented real problems they face in the Nigerian marketplace for our students to come up with creative solutions. Several teams came up with genius ideas but the winning team was one that designed a virtual airport app to help Delta overcome its challenge of serving customers outside Lagos. We are grateful to the Delta Air Lines team and the JA Africa team for partnering with us to develop an innovation mindset in our JAN students.
I wish every day started with a telephone call from someone wishing to raise money for JAN! I was super excited to receive such a call from Ore Sofekun last month informing me of the Fund Managers Association of Nigeria and CFA Society of Nigeria Charity Run/Walk to benefit JAN and Slum2School! The event was designed to raise awareness for World Savings Day and the need for financial literacy education for children so JAN was chosen because of its commitment to financial literacy. We were glad to support the run as it offered a chance to warm up for another Fun Run we are planning, this time in partnership with the Road Warriors Fitness Club, which is slated for December 2. Please sign up and run with us – it promises to be a fun day for all the family.
I would like to end this letter by expressing deep heartfelt gratitude to my Board Members. I say it often – we have the best non-profit board in the entire universe. I don’t have any space left to say how many ways our Board Members support us on each and every day but I will quickly say that they are the reason we are able to do more than the staff and resources we have. This quarter, Citibank has given us the grant to pilot our out-of-school entrepreneurship program in Borno state and we are excited to work with the Office of Vice President on that. Thank you, Citi! First Bank has supported our Career Success programs in Lagos with a special mentoring initiative both at the bank level and at the FBN Merchant level so we are grateful for the expansion of that relationship. Finally, ExxonMobil, through its subsidiary, Esso Exploration, and Production, is funding the redesign and customization of the JA Our Region program to the Niger Delta region. This is just a small set of examples of how our board members carry the JAN flag every day.
Thank you to all the volunteers that have already signed up to teach JAN programs in schools this academic year. We look forward to working with you all to improve the lives of Nigeria’s youth!