When we set the theme for our 20th anniversary way back in January, we did not actually realize that “20 Years of Impact, Partnering for Growth,” was a prophecy! Over the past few months, as we ramped up activities towards the anniversary event in October, both aspects of the theme have become more evident than ever before — more alumni have contacted us to tell us their JAN stories of impact and more corporations and state governments have reached out to partner with us to reach our one million student goal before the end of the year! It is impossible to describe the feeling of knowing that JAN is standing at a very important vantage point, from which we can see not only the almost million lives already impacted doing fantastic things but also the potential of the millions more we’re about to reach with these landmark partnerships we have signed over the past few months.
Our digital transformation strategy got a wild boost with the Google Impact Challenge grant and now we are in the middle of signing agreements that will grant us access to digital villages across Nigeria in which we can run our digital skills programs, thanks to American Tower Company (ATC) Nigeria, ability to establish Computer Science Clubs in various schools nationwide, thanks to Google CS First, and online safety training for our students, teachers and staff nationwide, thanks to Facebook.
Our Company Program students have also imbibed this new technology focus as we witnessed company after company demonstrate their innovative sides during the recent series of Regional Company of the Year (RCOY) competitions across the country. From apps to make their school operations run more effectively to gadgets designed to provide safety and security, convert waste to wealth and leapfrog from archaic analog systems to more cost-efficient digital systems, our students demonstrated that they are truly ready to be part of the global digital economy. Major thanks to Citi, FirstBank, ACT Foundation, ANGUZ Partners and the United States Consulate for sponsoring the Company Program in various states across the country. We are excited to see all the winners battle it out on October 3rd for the opportunity to represent Nigeria at the JA Africa COY this year.
July was #CampSeason at JAN! My favorite JAN program, our leadership camp for girls, LEAD Camp, took place in early July. 50 brilliant girls from across the country spent a residential week with us and a few leading women from several sectors inspiring and coaching them for a successful future. Thank you to all my friends who agree to come and speak to our girls and to every workshop facilitator who taught them everything from how to shake hands firmly at a job interview to how to deal with a sexual predator. As usual, we laughed, cried, hugged and danced our way through an intense week of activities and the shy girls who arrived went home as confident women ready to shake the world. Thank you Union Bank, not only for sponsoring this life-changing program but also for being a part of the activities throughout the week!
As if that wasn’t enough to wipe us out, we dared to do a second camp, also in July, and this time it was a camp open to a few non-JAN students (i.e., general public) for them to get a taste of what our entrepreneurial students get during the school year. I had a lot of fun with fifteen students, more than half of whom came from schools abroad, as we discussed the responsibilities of being privileged Nigerians who have the ability to make the country better for the less privileged. I was so proud of the campers as they brought donations that they shared at a destitute home in Yaba and came up with business ideas to solve Nigeria’s unemployment, poverty, waste and climate problems! Participating in both camps back to back left me with a lot of hope for our future, and I’m grateful to all our speakers, Facebook, NG_Hub, Golden Morn, Maggi and Nestle Nigeria for supporting the summer camp.
As you read through this newsletter, I hope you are also filled with a sense of hope for the future of our country. I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to do but also quite encouraged by the number of willing partners and totally grateful to my JAN team who have had to take on more than double their workload these past few months, but who keep doing it with a smile. Our VIMP internship program doubled this year because of the success of last year’s interns who led several initiatives to expand JAN’s reach. This month we say goodbye to VIMP alums, Ololade Ogeye and Ayantola Alayande, who were just phenomenal during their time with us. Ololade singlehandedly improved our digital profile, under the leadership of her boss and bestie, Chinonso Ndimantang, and Ayantola singlehandedly opened up JAN operations in Ibadan and secured a landmark partnership with the University of Ibadan School ff Business! As they both go out of the country for their Master’s degree programs, I pray that they return to become leaders in Nigeria as the country desperately needs stars like them to achieve our potential.
Thank you all for your commitment to JAN and your willingness to partner with us! I hope you register to attend our 20th anniversary celebration on October 4 as I look forward to seeing you there!