JA was founded in 1919 and has a mission to empower young people to own their future economic success.
Over its almost 100-year old history working in over 122 countries across the world, JA has developed and deepened its experiences and competencies as an organization, learning from decades of working alongside young people, government stakeholders, industry experts and others. We believe that these experiences have strengthened us as an organization, building our capacity for program implementation, learning, innovation and generating positive outcomes. Our core competencies are in the areas detailed below.
JA’s model is based on the development and delivery of curriculums across a wide range of subjects targeting young people throughout their academic careers. From programs developed for kindergarten-aged students to learn about themselves and their communities, to JA’s flagship Company Program ®, which teaches entrepreneurship to secondary-aged students, JA addresses the needs of young people at every stage of their growth and learning.
In order to address the challenge of mobilizing and channeling the energies and talents of unemployed youth in Africa, where so many young people are out of school, JA developed ITS TYME, which stands for Immersion Training Strategy: Targeting Young Marginalized Entrepreneurs. ITS TYME builds on JA’s highly acclaimed Company Program® designed to provide basic business education to out of school youth through a variety of hands-on activities and supplements supporting a diverse range of learners. This unique and highly practical program takes business education out of the classroom and into the African marketplace, motor parks, slums, sports areas and other centers of youth activity with a mission to equip young people with the practical, strategic and tactical tools they need to become financially self-sufficient and active contributors to the social and economic life of their communities.
JA Africa delivers curriculum primarily through the structured school system. JA Africa works closely with national governments and within the school systems, through channel partners or strategic alliances. Channel Partners are local, community-based organizations which are well-established and well networked and staffed with facilitators and mobilizers who know the local context well and can deliver JA’s curriculum with relative ease.
Effective curriculum delivery depends in large part on the knowledge, style and expertise of instructors. JA’s model is highly dependent on volunteers, mostly corporate volunteers, who are employees of our corporate funders, who share their expertise by providing mentorship to students.
Besides corporate volunteers, JA also engages school teachers within the formal school system to teach the programs in the classroom. In some countries where the culture of volunteerism is not mature, JA uses paid facilitators: experienced individuals who bring knowledge of specific subjects who can deliver the curriculums with expertise.
JA delivers blended learning through the digitized Company Program®. The offline capability of the platform addresses internet access challenges faced in some communities, while allowing for scale up of program implementation to other geographies in a more effective and cost-efficient way. The digital platform constitutes two learning environments – eLearning, which employs text, video and audio in explaining theory and providing content, and the workspace, where students can practice and develop their skill sets in writing business plans, preparing financials, and managing their sales and production targets. Since the digitized program is learner-driven and allows for student progress and program results to be accessed and analyzed remotely, it has reduced the burden of securing fully trained and experienced facilitators able to commit to implementing all sessions face-to-face, particularly in rural areas where suitably qualified facilitators can be hard to find. A teacher can rather guide program implementation.
In South Africa, where this has been piloted, the digitization of the program is well aligned with the government’s view of the need to move toward paperless teaching and make use of a variety of technology platforms.
Building on the success of the Company Program and of ITS TYME in Gabon, the President of Gabon so believed in JA’s programs that he engaged JA Gabon to manage the National Business Incubator. Out of this partnership, JA Startup was born. JA Startup is a program that incubates and matures new enterprises. This program is designed to support young entrepreneurs who are managing startups. The program has two phases: “Go-to-Market” which lasts six months, and “Perform” which runs over three months. Business support emphasizes the ‘perform’ phase of the program – identifying opportunities for entrepreneurship, understanding the global and regional economic contexts and constraints, developing technical/vocational expertise, business planning, conducting market/industry research, analyzing and understanding market research data, using new technology to boost business, developing and protecting intellectual property, legal compliance (registration, HR, tax codes), personnel recruitment and management, recording and managing finances, identifying business funding sources, marketing and sales.
The incubation process also includes linking new businesses to local service providers such as financial services and lenders, manufacturers, distributors, retail outlets and management consultants. A classroom-based incubation program has been created which is more accessible for entrepreneurs who are still enrolled in school.
JA Africa believes that not all students need exposure to long-term, in depth structured programs in order to be inspired to become change agents. Evidence exists that even single-touch experiences, such as Job Shadows, Innovation Camps or Career Campaigns can be deeply impactful on students. Within its catalog of programs, JA has a rich list of day-long programs and resources, which give young people basic exposure to certain key concepts and opportunities.
In 2015, JA Africa in conjunction with Fidelity Bank Ghana, GIZ and Prudential hosted a one-day financial literacy campaign in where junior secondary school students competed to create a youth friendly savings banking product.
JA Africa in conjunction with GE Africa and Google volunteers hosted STEM Careers Challenge campaign to mark GE’s global volunteer month, with events in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. Building on that experience, JA Africa partnered again with GE Africa in 2016 to host a second STEM Challenge in Ghana. Students were mentored by GE senior executives to build STEM skills, learn some of the ethical issues that engineers face, obtain insight into the careers of STEM professionals, and work with a team to solve a community challenge.
JA is a highly connected and networked organization. JA is present in 122 countries across the globe. Within the network, members share a common database which houses over 800 different curricula. Program implementation can be contextualized from geography to geography; members can learn from each other and share best practices, leverage partnerships, experiences, resources, ideas, skills and strategies. Beyond the internal network, JA works closely with other like-minded organizations that operate in the field of youth, entrepreneurship education and work readiness, building on the capacities of others, sharing lessons and experiences and leveraging knowledge to meet our shared common missions and objectives.
JA’s founding heritage is deeply rooted in the private sector, as the organization’s founders came from large corporations. Consequently, central to the success of all our programs has been the partnerships we have established with a variety of corporate institutions, engaging corporate volunteers who provide coaching, mentorship and expert advice to equip the students with skills and tools to apply their academic studies to addressing practical issues. In this way, students have the opportunity to build their confidence alongside dedicated mentors, and experience the application of academic learning to real-life problem solving.
Beyond their role as funders, volunteers and mentors, JA has a history of co-creating programs with the private sector that create shared value and fosters engagements that are deeper than the obligations of a Corporate Social Responsibility program.
In Africa, JA has relationships with companies like Barclays Bank, Prudential Insurance, Toyota, Citi Foundation, FedEx and Bechtel to name a few.