The issue of unemployment is one of the most pressing economic concerns affecting developing countries like Nigeria. According to Statista, the unemployment rate in Nigeria was estimated to reach 33 percent in 2022. In a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Nigeria is the foremost country for business and entrepreneurial growth. However, due to the myriad of problems such as unemployment, poverty as a result of economic meltdown and unsustainable development in the country, entrepreneurship is no doubt a dynamic process of change. In creating an opportunity for secondary school aged-youth, FirstBank partnered with Junior Achievement Nigeria in upholding the flagship Company Program.
Junior Achievement Nigeria, a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide is committed to the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Competition program, Africa’s premier pitch competition designed for secondary school-aged youth. Upholding this annual flagship competition, Junior Achievement Nigeria partnered with FirstBank of Nigeria to implement the 2022 National Company of the Year competition with the theme – Fueling Changemakers.
With the FutureFirst initiative driven to promote financial literacy, entrepreneurship, innovative development and career counseling of school children at an early age, FirstBank of Nigeria, the nation’s premier bank has shown continual support to the JA Nigeria National Company of the Year program for the past 8 years. In a speech by Chinwe Bode-Akinwande, Head of Digital, at FirstBank, who represented the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, at the 2022 National Company of the Year competition, she said:
“Through this initiative and FirstBank partnership with JAN, over 1,000,000,000 young Nigerians have been impacted as we have continued to strategically drive sustainability practices through the innovation and participation of students in the Junior Achievement company program. As a flagship event and cumulative point of the Junior Achievement company program, an accompanying regional company program across Nigeria, NCOY brings together outstanding student business teams across Nigeria to compete for the opportunity to represent Nigeria at the Junior Achievement Africa company of the year competition. This annual celebration of success has allowed young people to demonstrate their business acumen and the spirit of entrepreneurship in a competitive environment.”
The 2022 National Company of the Year program features the SPARK competition. SPARK is an initiative of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, an acronym for Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness. While the SPARK competition reiterates the Bank’s commitment to institutionalize kindness in Nigeria by encouraging a culture of kindness, the student companies carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects that align with the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability pillars of Education, Welfare and Health, Financial inclusion and Responsible Lending and Procurement.
Junior Achievement Nigeria’s commitment to this annual flagship which aims to bring together student companies from the 36 states including Abuja, strives to inspire senior secondary school students to start and run their own businesses, develop a product or service, and market their brand. The student company with outstanding innovative and creative ideas proceeds to represent Nigeria at the Junior Achievement Africa’s Company of the Year (ACOY) competition.
Since the year began, several schools have participated in the Regional company of the year (RCOY) competition which brought 12 winning schools to the National company of the Year (NCOY) competition. On Thursday, October 13th, 2022, Green Apex student company emerged winner for the 2022 National Company of the Year competition (NCOY) sponsored by FirstBank of Nigeria and will represent Nigeria at the Junior Achievement Africa Company of the Year (ACOY) competition. They produced a biodegradable sanitary pad for women and have a future goal of expanding into other biodegradable products.
With the continual support of FirstBank in this Company Program, the concept of financial literacy and entrepreneurship is encouraged as it serves as a tool for poverty alleviation and unemployment which is in line with the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.
In a speech by the Executive Director of Junior Achievement Nigeria, Foluso Gbadamosi during the Fueling Change Makers 2022 National Company of the Year (NCOY) Competition, she expressed her sincere appreciation towards FirstBank for their unrelenting support in the company programs. She said:
“It is an honor to be partnering with FirstBank again to build young conscientious business leaders that will impact our world for the greater good. And we are very grateful to FirstBank for funding this event and all of the support that we receive from them”