Funmi Ogundare

Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), a non-profit economic and education-focused organisation, has reiterated its commitment to reach one million Nigerian youths, just as it marked its 20th anniversary with the theme ‘20 Years of Impact, Partnering for Growth’.

The Executive Director, Mrs. Simi Nwogugu, who briefed journalists recently on its plans in Lagos, recalled how Junior Achievement (JA) started in America a century ago, saying that its aim is to grow exponentially digitally so as to reach a million more youths.

Since its launch in Nigeria in 1999, she said the organisation has reached over 900,000 children and young adults across the country.

“The organisation is dedicated to empowering young people to succeed in a global economy and has helped bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace. After two decades, our core aim of preparing young people for the real world remains as important as ever.”

She expressed delight that so far, its programmes have touched the lives of the youths by showing them how to generate and effectively manage wealth, create jobs for their communities, as well as apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace and skills that are germane to securing their financial future.

Nwogugu called on key players in the public and private sectors to partner JAN to improve the delivery of practical education, particularly entrepreneurial education to address the country’s growing rate of youth unemployment.

“Every year, over one million would-be university students enter the workforce without tertiary education or appropriate training. The inability of young men and women to obtain the requisite STEM skills that are high in demand has rendered them unattractive to the 21st century employer.”

The executive director said that is why some of JAN’s programmes will focus on digital to unlock its potential for the benefit of the country, adding that the organisation is committed to its mission of ensuring that the youths have the values, skills and confidence to secure their financial future.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of JAN, Mr. Niyi Yusuf expressed delight about the potential of Nigerian youths, saying that there is something hopeful about the future of the country.

Yusuf, who disclosed that he joined the organisation as a volunteer in 1999, and benefited from the system said: “It is the responsibility of those who have benefitted from the system to give back. The platform aligns with my values and ensures that results are delivered. What gives me joy is Nigeria being the champion.”

He commended volunteers who go to the classrooms to mentor students, saying that everybody achieve a sense of fulfilment getting to see results.

“It gives me hope that we all can stay and build the Nigeria of our dreams,” he said.

The Head, Programmes, ACT Foundation, Mrs. Ndifreke Okwuegbunam said her foundation partnered JAN and ensures that young people with potential are empowered through entrepreneurship skills to make an impact in the country.

“Entrepreneurship is very important; JAN creates the right mind set in the young people. In the two years that we have worked with them, we have empowered about 4,000 people and teaching them how to tap into the resources in their communities. We saw the potential for growth and how they could harness the resources to create numerous opportunities. We don’t want the youths to run out of Nigeria,” she said,

A team of students from Caro Favoured College, Ajegunle, whose business idea is traffic light handheld device, thanked JAN for the impact it has made on them, saying that they have been taught how to create wealth and be good leaders.