I promised last month that I would tell you why May is my favorite month. What’s not to love about May?! It’s the month of my birth, it is also the month during which we celebrate Mother’s Day (yes, we observe Mother’s Day twice in our house!) and Children’s Day!!! And now also Africa Day — we have to celebrate Africa rising, particularly Nigeria rising. I heard it said at a conference that “The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without Africa’s success and Africa’s success is not possible without Nigeria’s success!” So we owe a responsibility to the world to make Nigeria great and we are really committed to doing just that at JAN.
As we expand across Nigeria, we have recognized that in order to have the scale of impact we want, we need to partner with state governments to implement specific programs that will benefit the students in their state. This is why I was so excited to go into Abeokuta schools with members of the Ogun State Executive Council on May 15. We commend their commitment to the Be Entrepreneurial program which ran in classrooms across Abeokuta over the past three weeks and ended on May 30, after having inspired over 3,500 students to develop creative businesses that solve problems within their communities. I can’t wait to see their presentations to the Ogun State Governor next week on the brilliant business ideas they came up with and will implement as part of the Company Program, which starts in September. We are already talking to our partners at Google and CCHub to help those who want to develop tech businesses because that is the future!
Being part of the JA Worldwide network gives us a huge opportunity to recognize and inspire our alumni in unique ways. An example of that is Tunji Eleso’s feature in the JA Centennial book, The Entrepreneurial Attitude, which features stories of 100 notable alumni from across the JA network! Congratulations, Tunji! Another example is the opportunity for our alumni to meet global executives affiliated with the JA brand such as the exclusive lunch two of our alums, Bright Dikko and Ugonna Achebe, got to have with JA Worldwide Board Member, Lord Michael Hastings, who is Global Head of Citizenship at KPMG. To put this into perspective, the only other person that had a private meeting with Lord Hastings during his short visit to Nigeria was Alhaji Aliko Dangote (who also happens to be a JAN Board Member)! We are incredibly fortunate to be part of this special network of business leaders inspiring our future leaders.
Speaking of our Board Members, two of them, ExxonMobil and Stanbic IBTC sponsored two programs in classrooms across the country in May! Volunteers from Stanbic IBTC’s Blue Women network went into girls schools across Nigeria to inspire senior secondary school girls to become entrepreneurial in their thinking — inspiring them to be creative problem-solving leaders in their communities; while volunteers from ExxonMobil went into schools in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States to inspire junior secondary school students to explore the resources they have in the Niger Delta region to build businesses that can solve the region’s problems. We really do have the best Board Members!!!
Our primary school students have not been left behind as JAN finally returned to the Corona Schools to train parents to teach our financial literacy and entrepreneurial programs to their students. The Corona Schools were the first schools we went to when JAN started in Lagos, but our expansion into public schools across the country became a priority over the last decade. We are so happy that they have welcomed JAN back into their schools even as we continue making public schools a priority.
Finally, we were happy to celebrate Children’s Day with our longtime partner, Bestman Games, at the Children’s Finance Fair this past weekend. The Monopoly Game continues to teach children across the world practical financial literacy and wealth creation skills (you should see my sons and daughter battle their grandparents for hotels on Banana Island at Christmas!) so we are always excited about partnering with Nimi Akinkugbe’s team. We believe more partnerships like this will develop the savvy young citizens we need to build the vibrant economy that we envision for Nigeria.
Thank you all for partnering with us to improve Nigeria’s future.