Joint message from our MD and Board Chair
The year 2018 has been one of transition for JA South Africa, following purposeful shifts in terms of sustainability and growth priorities. This has required different approaches for the organisation, including adopting dynamic programme roll-out strategies and developing complementary initiatives.
Through the sustainability lens, it is more evident that empowering young people to acquire skills that will help them to continuously adapt to the changing demands of today’s world of work requires a consistent and collaborative approach.
As an organisation we are really excited to be pioneering a pipeline for continuous learner development, where we are engaging a number of partners and working with a single cohort of learners as they move from Grade 7 to Grade 12, using the Opportunities Out There programmes that focus on entrepreneurship, technology and work readiness.
Over this period of six years, selected learners from Gauteng, the Free State and Mpumalanga will be exposed to the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Manufacturing (STEAM2D), with the aim of inspiring and motivating them to take up STEAM2D subjects as they proceed through high school and to tertiary studies.
These learners will explore the world of work, focusing on the employment realities and the possibility for self-employment in STEAM2D fields. As part of their training they will go on study visits and job shadows to innovation centres and companies active in the tech space. They will also attend innovation camps and generate ideas for businesses they will set up when they get to grade 10.
Another initiative we have introduced this year is the school enterprise club, where high school learners do not liquidate their businesses at the end of the programme but are encouraged and supported to continue as enterprise clubs and hand over the businesses to the next cohort of learners as they leave school. These enterprise clubs will also participate in competitions including the JA Company of the Year Competition; the Youth Entrepreneurship Exchange Programme, in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network SA; and the School Enterprise Challenge, managed by Teach a Man to Fish, where students can invest their prize money into growing their businesses.
In 2018, we have increased our student reach by 60% (2017: 6 661; 2018: 11 046) with more impactful interventions that go beyond the normal programme time. Nurturing entrepreneurial thinking at an early age was taken to another level when we reached more than 7 000 primary school learners through the More than Money programme, where students learn to earn, save and spend responsibly. More than 5 000 of these students took part in the post-programme Savings Challenge, where the top nine savers across the country had their savings matched up to the value of R2 000.
We continue to gain traction on our Youth Enterprise Development Programme, with more young people choosing entrepreneurship as a viable option for economic success. This year more new businesses started during the programme and more students signed up for the six-month post-training mentorship programme, where they are supported to start or grow their businesses, study further or gain employment.
Women graduates from the programme had an opportunity to pitch their businesses at the WEConnect Conference SA, with the top three winning cash prizes to the combined value of US$5 000. First prize winner – 2017 JASA alumnus Nthabiseng Tomotomo – was also the guest speaker at the Gauteng Youth Enterprise Development Programme graduation ceremony. There, she explained how being an employee had been frustrating for her. Wanting to start a business, she joined the closest JASA programme, which meant commuting from Soweto to Katlehong to attend classes. Though she had to take two taxis to get to the programme, she never missed a single session! Her commitment has paid off as she builds her business Baby Sonic, which delivers baby and personal hygiene products to busy mothers, as the primary target market.
It is a great pleasure to welcome Collen Ngundu who joined us as Finance Director in April 2018. He brings a wealth of experience in all aspects of financial, HR and programme management combined, with international experience in the management and real-time oversight of multi-million dollar grants.
The year 2019 marks 100 years of achievement for JA Worldwide, JA South Africa also celebrates four decades this year! As an organisation we can only continue to make a sustainable impact through our collaborations – we are truly grateful to our sponsors and partners for the continued and enthusiastic support.
In line with building on Sustainable Development Goal four, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and equal learning opportunities for all, we do look forward to continue working with you in 2019 to prepare the 21st century learner for economic success.