Empowering the youth

Linda McClure, MD of JA South Africa

Sustained relationships with long term sponsors and a range of new initiatives during 2014 saw Junior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa) respond to the country’s youth unemployment crisis. As a result, more than 10 000 learners across the country were empowered with the skills that they will need to build their own businesses.

JA South Africa, established in 1979, is dedicated to educating young people about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential hands-on programmes, according to Linda McClure, managing director of JA South Africa.

“Our  diverse programmes have been created to help the youth identify business opportunities, build a business strategy, focus areas for success and ultimately manage and sustain profitability – whether it’s for a business or in a personal capacity.“Empowering young people and unemployed youth with the necessary entrepreneurial and financial skills will help them break the economically destructive cycle in which many of them are trapped. Having the skills to start a business and keep it running gives them the opportunity to build an independent income source to support themselves and their families, and in time, to create job opportunities for other unemployed young people,” says McClure.

Highlights of 2014 included a new partnership with Transnet for a five year grant for JA South Africa Entrepreneurship Academy Programmes nationwide, and the ongoing collaboration with HP for the Social Innovation Relay competition.

The Social Innovation Relay competition saw more than 1,100 South African learners competing to produce an innovative solution to an economic challenge. The national winning team, from Sandtonview Combined School in Gauteng, identified the current textbook shortages and the low accessibility to technology that learner’s encounter as a serious problem facing their community and South Africans. The suggested solution is a Table Tablet, a resource between teachers and learners who can access information from any pc or tablet using LET cards. This team competed in the global finals against 18 teams from around the world.

Continued support from Absa, with additional funding from General Electric South Africa, made it possible for JA South Africa to host one of its entrepreneurial programmes for 346 out-of-school youth in four provinces, giving these unemployed young people the skills that they need to launch their own businesses. The impact of this programme is clear: 70 percent of students who participated in this programme in 2012 had a viable business running immediately after they completed the programme, with more than half the businesses launched remaining sustainable after a six month review.

The organisation has embraced the potential reach offered by the digital realm, and has collaborated with JP Morgan to build the Digital Enterprise Programme, which was successfully piloted in six schools in late 2014. Set to be rolled out in 2015, the programme will see JA South Africa able to extend the reach of its work even further than ever before.

In another reprised event, Investec supported the Junior Innovators Competition in which 45 finalists participated in a four day workshop at Investec’s offices in Johannesburg. The winning student, Tsakane Sono, a Grade 11 learner from McAuley House in Gauteng, was awarded a R60 000 bursary towards her tertiary studies at a university of her choice.

“Our work in 2014 is evidence of how sustained relationships between well-run NGOs and big corporates can make a meaningful difference in the lives of young South Africans,” says McClure.

JA South Africa offera a wide range of entrepreneurial development programmes, including:

  • The Enterprise Dynamics Programme: This 42 hour programme, divided into four phases, is suitable for learners in grades four to seven focusing on skills relating to small business and future employment.
  • The Be Entrepreneurial Programme: the 12 hour programme is suitable for learners in grades nine to 12 focusing on business plan development.
  • A Youth Enterprise Development Programme: This 20 session incubator programme over three months, is suitable for ages 18 to 35 years. Participants are required to start-up and run a sustainable business with ongoing support and mentorship.
  • The Mini Enterprise Programme: The 33 hour long programme over 12 weeks is suitable for learners in grades 10 to 12. Learners are required to start-up and run a business.
  • The Environmental Entrepreneurs Programme: An eight week programme suitable for learners in grades five to seven.
  • The JA South Africa Entrepreneurship Academy Programme: This seven to eight month programme with weekly sessions of three hours, suitable for learners in grades 10 and 11.

Other programmes:

  • Financial literacy: The More Than Money Programme is a six to 10 hour programme funded exclusively by HSBC for learners in grades five to seven.
  • Workplace readiness programme: The Discover Your Career Programme is a four to five hour programme suitable for learners in grades 10 to 12.

Thuli Lamani

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Issue 58