Z Zurich Foundation (ZZF) announced today—International Youth Day—that it will partner with JA Worldwide and JA Africa (www.JA-Africa.org), building on relationships already established with JA Canada and Junior Achievement España (JA Spain).
ZZF has made a strategic decision to venture and fund Africa, and has chosen us, Africa’s largest and most-impactful youth-serving NGO, JA Africa, as their implementing partner.
This three-year partnership will enable thousands of youth to access JA programs to set them on the path to success, not just as individuals but as leaders who will influence positive change within their communities. The partnership will also enable JA Africa to expand existing operations in four countries, and launch operations in five new countries.
According to the African Development Bank, each year, 10 to 12 million African students finish their education and compete for three million jobs (https://bit.ly/3pbVAZ0), resulting in sub-Saharan African youth becoming entrepreneurs by necessity, not by choice. The ZZF-JA partnership empowers young people in Africa to succeed as both innovative job creators and well-qualified job seekers, following the path best suited to their economic realities.
“The partnership integrates the education and economic ecosystems of the countries in which we work,” said JA Worldwide CEO Asheesh Advani, “leading to long-term sustainability. Over the course of the next three years, this partnership will impact the lives of more than 550,000 young people across nine countries—Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda—resulting in greater capacity in four current JA Africa countries and brand-new operations in five more.”
JA Africa is a trusted and well-respected NGO that has partnered with local leadership and communities across the African continent for over 40 years. As part of the global JA network, JA Africa has the advantage of drawing on the best practices, curricula, pedagogies, effective governance models, fundraising, communications, and financial-management capacity of over 100 JA member locations, five additional JA regions, and a global headquarters, all of which provide the solid foundation upon which this partnership is built.
Grégory Renand, Head of Z Zurich Foundation, agreed. “JA is best known for utilizing volunteers to deliver educational experiences. We are very proud of this new partnership, delivering interventions and skill-based expertise with the aim to create brighter futures in Africa, building on impactful programs we’ve already built with JA around the world. The Z Zurich Foundation’s expertise on social equity and mental well-being nicely complements JA’s track record in building resilience and self-efficacy in more than 12 million young people every year.”
JA Africa CEO, Simi Nwogugu, has led efforts in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa for more than 25 years. “Many young Africans are entrepreneurial by nature,” she said, “but may be limited in their ability to develop solutions to the challenges around them and capture value from those solutions. The ZZF-JA partnership will help African youth develop the resilience, problem- solving and design-thinking skills, and mental well-being they need to understand the complex problems in the region and design sustainable solutions, and mentorship will play an important role.
“Exposing Africa youth to Zurich Insurance Group employees as global mentors,” Nwogugu continued, “as well as to JA Africa alumni and role models such as Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, who has founded not one but two unicorns in Nigeria, will help build the critical social skills and confidence necessary to validate their ideas and communicate them to a global audience of funders and clients.”
The announcement was made today at an event through which members of African media were able to ask questions, with a special interest in scaling and fast-tracking entrepreneurship education in Africa. The panelists noted that Z Zurich Foundation, JA Worldwide, JA Africa, and JA member countries in Africa are working to create a new breed of partnership that develops an ecosystem of role models and mentors, who work with youth through a mix of high-tech digital learning experiences; low-tech options like television, radio, and podcasts; and face-to- face experiences. Then, after students graduate, regional and local vehicles that either match students with employers or help youth launch businesses through incubators and seed grants.
“For Africa to be successful as a continent,” said Nwogugu, “all our youth need access to immersive education that leads to economic success. Through this partnership, we’ll create entrepreneurship ecosystems that work together to fuel young Africans to become changemakers, creating businesses that solve the continent’s challenges with climate change, food shortages, and inadequate infrastructures for health and education.”