All too soon we are drawing curtains on an amazing 2021! Just looking back at how much we have achieved this year, I can’t help but be thankful. Grateful for my incredibly hardworking team at JA Africa and the opportunities to learn from and collaborate with my fellow regional leaders at JA Europe, JA MENA (INJAZ Al-Arab), JA Asia, JA Americas and JA USA.
Last month, we had an incredible three weeks participating in JA Worldwide’s Global Leadership Conference with thousands of JA staff all around the world. The highlight for me was Africa Day, when we got to showcase some of what we’ve been working on at JA Africa. I hosted a panel on Philanthropy in Africa with distinguished panelists, Mrs. Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Chair of both the Higher Life Foundation and the African Philanthropy Forum, the amazing Dr. Una Osili, an expert in global philanthropy that I’ve come to know and really respect over the past year, and Jan Schwier, Head of the Bridgespan Group Africa who is leading research on giving in Africa! I learned so much from them and from an earlier panel with JA Africa alums Iyin Aboyeji and Farai Munjoma, which really brought home the incredible impact that JA has had on millions of young people across the globe!
We also gave the network a sneak peek at our upcoming animated financial literacy series, Junior Billionaires Club, and our online entrepreneurship education program, JA DEEP. It was a remarkable way for me to mark one year in this role as CEO of Africa and a reminder of why I continue to stay in the JA family even after 22 years.
What I have learned in my first year as JA Africa’s CEO is the power of collaboration, not just across the global JA network but among our member nations as well. Learning by sharing has been key to how our member nations have adapted to new ways of delivering programs due to the pandemic. It is exciting to see how our member nations have embraced our COY 2021 theme, “Innovating with Grit,” not only in what we teach our students but how we teach them as well. Watching the different national competitions renewed our sense of awe towards the boundless potential of African youth and we can’t wait to see the winning teams compete at the Africa COY competition in February 2022.
The silver lining from having to go virtual is the varied opportunities for our students to collaborate with students from other regions on different initiatives, such as the collaboration with JA Europe for World Food Day, which gave them the opportunity to innovate and think beyond their immediate environment. Our colleagues at INJAZ have also provided us with an opportunity to be part of their longstanding partnership with Boeing. Through this partnership, we will work together to empower over 5,000 youth in Africa with work readiness and entrepreneurship skills.
I am grateful to all our supporters, donors, board members, schools, teachers, volunteers, alumni, students and colleagues for all the hard work that has gone into JA’s success. Ending the year on a high note, I am sharing with you JA Africa’s 2020 Annual Report. Take a retrospective look at our activities and achievements in the year 2020 and celebrate with us!
Wishing you a restful holiday season, a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
CEO, JA Africa
Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity.
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