I am delighted to be back at the helm of Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) at such a time as this! Our country Nigeria is bursting onto the international scene with its own unique brand of entertainment (music, theater and film), fashion, technological innovations, food (heard of the famous Jollof wars?!) and entrepreneurial culture. Within the past couple of months, visits from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and CNN’s Richard Quest generated a lot of buzz about this little giant of Africa and, like true Nigerians, we basked in the glow of the attention. However, it is not the international media hype that gets my juices flowing, but the boundless potential of the young people I interact with on a daily basis. Whether it is young students from Ajegunle developing mind-blowing animation from just two days of training at an Oracle-sponsored bootcamp or underestimated girls from a public school in Abuja developing businesses that go on to win multiple awards at the JA Africa Company of the Year competition, I am constantly inspired by the very students I was hired to inspire.
Junior Achievement Nigeria is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing non-profit economic education organization dedicated to empowering and preparing young people for a successful future. JA Nigeria’s aim is to build a bridge between the classroom and the workplace for children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 27. Several age-specific programs are implemented for in- and out-of-school youth with partners in both the public and private sectors.
As a global organization JA delivers unique, experiential programs focusing on the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy which ignite the spark in young people to experience the world of business and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.
In recent years, many Nigerian states have seen their population growth far outstrip the growth in their economy. This has left them with the problems of falling standards of living, a huge increase in unemployment and underemployment, especially among young people, whose inability to obtain the requisite STEM skills in high demand in today’s marketplace has rendered them unattractive to 21st-century employers.
Junior Achievement Nigeria’s unique delivery system provides the training, materials, and support necessary to bolster the chances for student success. Students who participate in JAN programs demonstrate a significant understanding of personal development, professional development, business concepts and social responsibility.
Our programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities. Through Junior Achievement programs, young people learn how to become active participants in a market economy.
The role we play at JAN is to bring together resources from the private and public sector to improve the delivery of practical education, particularly entrepreneurial education, to our nation’s youth. This is because we realize that to achieve our vision of a vibrant economy led by conscientious business leaders, we must engage as many stakeholders as possible. And that includes you! I hope you will join us in our mission to inspire and educate young people to become conscientious business leaders. We can’t do it without you.