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In honour of Youth Month, we are shining a spotlight on Junior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa), a remarkable Corporate Social Investment (CSI) partner dedicated to transforming the lives of young South Africans. For over seven years, Sasfin has proudly partnered with JA South Africa from a Social Economic Development perspective to support their mission of empowering youth with essential skills in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness. Through this partnership, we’ve witnessed incredible success stories like Valentine Mabaso, who turned her entrepreneurial dreams into reality with the help of JA South Africa’s programs funded directly by Sasfin.

JA South Africa is a nonprofit organisation that serves the youth (ages 8-35). It is part of Junior Achievement Worldwide, a global network in more than 115 countries. JA South Africa has a national footprint, with a head office in Gauteng, and regional offices and facilitators delivering programs that empower young minds in communities across the different provinces. We had the privilege of speaking with Nelo Spies, Executive Director of JA South Africa, based in Gauteng.

Three Pillars of Success

JA South Africa focuses on three pillars: financial literacy education, work readiness skills, and entrepreneurship training. These pillars work together to empower young minds and equip them with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of the modern world. Imagine a student who previously couldn’t grasp the concept of profits or shares. Thanks to JA South Africa’s financial literacy programme, they can confidently calculate these with confidence. This knowledge is a lifeline, enabling them to make informed decisions and navigate real-life scenarios with ease. Work readiness programs are equally impactful, providing students with necessary skills and training to succeed in the workspace. With the right training, young people have the skillset and mindset to build thriving communities.

Entrepreneurship: Where Dreams Take Flight

The entrepreneurship programs are where the magic truly happens. Students learn what it really means to be an entrepreneur, transforming theory into action. They learn to identify opportunities, develop plans, and watch their ideas come to life. These skills are not limited to business students; even students in seemingly unrelated fields like consumer studies and tourism have benefited, learning to bake delicious treats, sell them at a profit, and develop a keen eye for spotting business opportunities within their communities.

Key Programs and Partnerships

JA South Africa offers a range of programs tailored to different age groups, from primary school students to young adults. 

The Modern Money Programme is a financial literacy game-changer for primary school students. This programme teaches them about money and saving, with JA South Africa even offering an incentive to the student who has saved the most.

High school students are introduced to business concepts and given the opportunity to compete on a national level with their student-run businesses. This includes programs like Be Entrepreneurial and The Enterprise Program, both programs specialising in entrepreneurial development. 

For students out of school, JA South Africa offers programs that equip young adults with the skills and mentorship they need to start and run businesses, guiding them through the process of turning dreams into reality. The Youth Enterprise Development Programme aims to prepare 35 young people for economic success, providing them with extensive business training, field trips, mentoring, and coaching. This partnership aligns perfectly with Sasfin's passion for enabling business growth and development in South Africa, bringing their purpose statement to life in a meaningful way that empowers the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“This partnership brings our purpose statement to life in a meaningful way that empowers the next generation of entrepreneurs,” shares Elisheva Gilbert, Chief of Staff, Sasfin Holdings Limited. 

Bringing Entrepreneurial Dreams to Life

Miriam Maphaesa, a passionate teacher who has been teaching since 1998 started her career in Limpopo before moving to Johannesburg in 2005. She joined Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School in 2007, where her JA South Africa journey began. After receiving training from Bonga Khumalo in 2008, she began facilitating JA South Africa’s entrepreneurial programs at her school in 2009. Miriam's commitment to education and her love for working with children have been instrumental in bringing JA South Africa's programs to life in her classroom.

The introduction of these programs has significantly improved her students’ understanding and performance in business studies, with many achieving distinctions. Beyond academics, these programs have had a tangible impact on students’ lives – a past student started a business while others have created opportunities for themselves to earn income –  having a ripple effect on the economy. 

Overcoming Challenges and Inspiring Success

Despite the successes, there are challenges. Many students struggle to find funding to start their businesses after matriculating. Miriam hopes for more support to help these young entrepreneurs bring their business plans to life and establish thriving ventures.

The work of JA South Africa and dedicated educators like Miriam Maphaesa has been transformational, empowering countless students with essential skills for their future. Their commitment to education and their passion for nurturing young minds have had a profound impact on the lives of students, helping them to succeed academically, economically, and personally.

Nelo leaves us with golden advice for young entrepreneurs: “Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and develop your skills”. She reminds us that collaborations with corporations like Sasfin are essential for creating a sustainable impact and empowering the youth to become active participants in the economy.

Watch the full video here:

About the Author

Elisheva Gilbert
Chief of Staff, Sasfin Holdings

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