JA Africa and its sponsors celebrated youth entrepreneurship at the 7th annual Regional Company of the Year Competition awards, held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 8 December 2017. At the end of the three-day competition Recycling Industry, a company from Gabon that produces environmentally friendly household products won the coveted title. The company, founded by high schools students with a mission to rid the waterways in their local communities of discarded plastic bottles, made a compelling pitch for their product on stage, demonstrating well-made stools using plastic bottles as the foundation.

Digera, a Kenyan company came in second place with its digitized cashless payment service which automates purchases and transactions made through the local school canteen. Artistic Scorpions from Swaziland took third place for its uniquely designed artistic wall clocks made with discarded or recycled music and data CDs.

This year, 42 students aged 14 to 20 years from Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe competed for the sought-after titles at the annual competition by pitching and presenting their business products and services to a panel of judges composed of business professionals and influencers from across South Africa and the United States.

A full list of winners include:

FedEx Access Award: Wot Art, Uganda

Citi Client Focus Award: Digera, Kenya

Oliver Wyman Best Financial Performance Award: Candle Lit, Botswana

Delta Social Impact Award: Wot Art, Uganda

Rogers Capital Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: Recycling Industry, Gabon

Rogers Capital Innovation Award: Candle Lit, Botswana

Facebook Social Media Award: St. Mary’s Very Own, Zambia

Marketo Excellence in Marketing Award: Azurro Ltd., Mauritius

AfroVisionary CEO Rising Award: Tebenguni Ndwandwe, Artistic Scorpions – Swaziland

“By showcasing their businesses, all students demonstrated teamwork, innovation, problem-solving and leadership skills,” says Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO of JA Africa. “The success of this year’s competition confirmed the growing importance of entrepreneurship education among young Africans who contribute to build a proud, innovative and prosperous Africa. These budding entrepreneurs have taken action for the benefit of their own future, their country and all of Africa.”

The Regional Company of the Year Competition is the culmination of JA’s highly acclaimed Company Program that delivers entrepreneurship education to high school youth across Africa. Currently being taught to more than 500,000 young people a year globally, the Program teaches students how to start and run their own businesses and develop and market a product or service with coaching and mentorship from a local volunteer from the business community.

The year’s theme was “Innovate, Create, Be Great” and students truly demonstrated their business acumen and spirit of entrepreneurship in the competitive environment.

The keynote speaker, Lebogang Chaka, CEO of AfroVisionary Legacy, encouraged the students to embrace their African culture and remember that they are leaders of today and not tomorrow and that they have the obligation to create the future they want.

The 2017 Company of the Year Competition was sponsored by FedEx, Citi Foundation, Oliver Wyman, Delta Air Lines, Facebook, Marketo, Rogers Capital, African Leadership Academy and Afrovisionary Legacy. Thanks to our committed and energetic judges and sponsors for supporting Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa.

About JA Africa: JA Africa is a member of JA Worldwide, one of the largest global organizations focused on the economic empowerment of youth. JA activates youth for the future of jobs through the delivery of in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship training. JA Africa reaches over 230,000 young people in 14 countries in Africa each year. Link: www.ja