Secondary school students from nine African countries will jostle for honours in the Company of the Year (COY) competition. This competition is organized by a non-governmental organization, Junior Achievement (JA) Africa.
Simi Nwogwugwu, JA Africa’s chief executive, said at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos that the competition would equip the students with an entrepreneurial mindset to solve problems in their communities.
The nine students are from Eswatini, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“The JA Africa COY Competition, Africa’s largest high school entrepreneurship competition, returns for the 12th year in a row and first in-person meeting post-COVID, after two successful virtual competitions,” Ms. Nwogwugwu said.
“This competition which started on Dec. 7, would end on Dec. 9 has as the theme: from Dec. 7 to 9, “Fueling Changemakers.”
Ms. Nwogwugwu explained that “The young entrepreneurs who compete at the JA Africa’s COY go through qualifying competitions at national and sub national levels, competing against thousands of youth startups to qualify for the regional competition.”
She added that the programme would transition them into employment and transform them into employers.
“Having emerged as national winners, they will represent their countries on the continental stage where they have the arduous task to impress a panel of international business professionals who serve as judges.
“Given the increasingly complex set of global challenges facing young people around the world from unemployment to climate change and food shortage, we focus on equipping our students to be solution providers.
“These students will bring about positive change within their communities while developing businesses that generate wealth,” she said.
Ms Nwogwugwu said the students had demonstrated great resilience and innovation in grappling with these challenges, adding that she was extremely proud of all of them.
“I am also deeply grateful to all our sponsors who stayed with us throughout the pandemic period and contributed greatly toward making this a live event again.
“These students will put their business acumen to the test as they present the achievements of their businesses in numerous formats in order to win the prestigious title of JA COY and other prizes from the sponsors.
“The highest among the prizes at stake will be the opportunity to represent the Africa region at the Ralph de la Vega Global Entrepreneurship Competition.
“This will bring together COY winners from the six regions where JA Worldwide operates to compete for awards, $15,000, educational opportunities and more,” she said.
She added that the 2022 JA Africa COY Competition was made possible by the generous support of FedEx, Citi Foundation and PMIEF.
“Other sponsors are Bloomberg, Johnson and Johnson, Delta Airlines, First Bank of Nigeria, Tomorrow Foundation, NASCON and GB Foods,” she said.