During the month of July various Junior Achievement (JA) Africa stakeholders converged in Johannesburg, South Africa for the JA Africa 2014 Strategic Planning Retreat. Those attending the retreat included the JA Worldwide CEO and President, Mr Sean Rush, members of the JA Africa Regional Board and Regional Operating Centre, including the President, Dr Chinwe Effiong, and JA Executive Directors from Gabon, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as six of their respective Board Chair’s.
JA Worldwide is a global network of 123 countries, 17 of which are in sub Saharan Africa and form the JA Africa Region. JA Worldwide reached 10 230 680 students in 2013 across six continents, with 200 355 of those from Africa. Given the bulging youth population in Africa and high levels of youth unemployment across the continent, this number is just a fraction of those in need of the enterprise and life skills offered by Junior Achievement.
It is for this reason that JA staff and Board members gathered together in Johannesburg last month to determine how best to expand the reach and impact of JA programmes across the sub-continent. The team deliberated on a range of topics including reviewing the overall performance of the JA Africa region and it various member nations, determining how best to strengthen JA’s presence and programmes in Africa and exploring opportunities for expansion into other countries.
JA Africa’s regional priorities, as set out by the JA Africa Regional Operating Centre, are as follows:
- Promoting enterprise and employability of young people
- Building meaningful public and private partnerships
- Expanding alternative programme delivery methods both in and out of school
- Effectively engaging JA Africa alumni as programme facilitators while building their capacity as successful entrepreneurs
The two day retreat included three separate meetings (kindly hosted by Citi South Africa):
- The quarterly JA Africa Regional Board meeting;
- The Executive Directors meeting and
- The Regional Advisory Board Meeting (Consisting of Country Board Chair’s and resulting in the Launch of the Country Board Chairs [CBC] Forum)
The Country Board Chair’s Forum is a key new initiative which will meet once per annum in rotating JA Member Countries. This initiative is being driven by the Board Chair of JA South Africa, and was launched in response to the need to strengthen the governance and leadership roles of the various country Boards in Africa. Ms Dolly Mokgatle will chair the Forum for the first two years. The next Forum will be hosted by JA Nigeria.
As Dr Chinwe Effiong, President of JA Africa noted, Africa is endowed with an abundance of resources, the most important being its human resources. However, these resources need to be developed, at all levels, from early childhood onward. JA is well positioned to assist governments and corporations to nurture the next generation of professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders. However, this can only be accomplished through strategic collaboration and partnerships with internal and external stakeholders. It is therefore very timely that the Country Board Chair Forum is being launched!
The day culminated in a gala dinner, hosted by JA South Africa, at the historic Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill, where delegates and other guests had an opportunity to interact and share their JA experiences with one another. The evening included informative talks from JA South Africa Board Chair, Ms Dolly Mokgatle, Patron Ms Wendy Luhabe and Alumnus, Ms Takura Mutemasago, as well as an enlightening discussion on entrepreneurship in South Africa by Dr Taddy Blecher.
The two-day retreat concluded with site visits to JA South Africa programmes in Thokoza and Kempton Park respectively. During the site visits, guests were encouraged to provide the programme participants with advice and guidance on their small businesses.
On behalf of JA South Africa and the other member nations, Ms Linda McClure, JASA Managing Director, expressed her deep gratitude to all sponsors for this event, namely Citi South Africa, Investec, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Vantage Capital and the JA Africa Regional Operating Centre. Without such support the opportunity to meet, share and plan would be impossible,” Linda further highlighted the fact that, “Spending time with fellow Country Directors not only allows us to share best practice across the region but re-inspires and motivates us all to continue the critical role we all play across the continent in driving an entrepreneurial culture among our youth!”