Managing Director’s Report 2017
We are particularly pleased to have already secured around 70% of our budget for the New Year and are grateful to our sponsors for continuing to support our cause. In 2017 we managed to retain most of our previous funders while reintroducing funders on a larger scale and welcoming new funders, including Investec Properties, Catalyst Fund Managers, Marsh & McLennan Companies and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. We are truly grateful for their commitment to our programmes. Our partnership with Investec soared to greater heights. The top 10 winning ideas from previous iterations of the Junior Innovators Competition started additional training and product development workshops in partnership with the SABS Design Institute. Investec also extended the scope to include mentorship – in partnership with Khulisa Social Solutions – for 10 learners who attended the Entrepreneurship Academy Programme at Lamula Jubilee Secondary School in Soweto.
We continued to nurture relations with the Department of Education and were particularly pleased to collaborate on the Gauteng Department’s Schools of Specialisation project. This entailed implementing the Be Entrepreneurial and Enterprise programmes at Magaliesburg Secondary School and Pace College.
We also initiated a pilot programme aimed at creating a pipeline to move learners from training to enterprise, where one cohort of learners goes through successive JA programmes as this group moves from primary school to Grade 12, at Elethu Themba Combined School in the south of Johannesburg.
Efforts to extend relations to the Mpumalanga Department of Education are also starting to yield positive results, with their review of JA programmes and work on aligning them to the school curriculum. The year in review was not without its setbacks though, specifically in the reduction in student reach. This was due to challenges with learner retention and reduced funding for our high school Enterprise Programme.
In addition, there was the change in orientation of sponsor Mastercard from in school programmes to the out of school Youth Enterprise Development Programme, focusing on young women.Though the reach was smaller this programme yielded great results and fantastic media publicity. More than 60% of the participants enrolled for the six-month mentorship programme that follows the course, which supports their ongoing journey of starting up or growing businesses. We look forward to sharing exciting stories as these young women progress and even become job creators.
We are also pleased to note the overall improved product choice and profitability of the mini companies and that the increase in knowledge retention between pre- and post-tests has been maintained. I would like to take the opportunity to pay a special tribute to Abdul Rajah, who retired in July after serving JA South Africa as Finance Director with absolute commitment for 26 years. We will forever cherish the hard work he put in to ensuring the sustainability of the organisation. We also extend a warm welcome to Deidre May who joined us as Communications and Marketing Co-ordinator at the beginning of June and has already proven to be a great asset.
We ended the year on a high note, with the successful hosting of the regional JA Africa Company of the Year Competition, where we raised the stature of this important event on the JA calendar. Thank you to the JA Regional Organising Committee, it was a pleasure working closely with you.
My sincere appreciation goes to our Board and JA Worldwide for their guidance and unwavering support; to the team for their consistent commitment to empowering our youth and to the JA South Africa Youth Council who work tirelessly and inspire other alumni to pay it forward.