Accra, Ghana – JA Eswatini has won the 10th JA Africa Company of the Year (COY) Competition which was held online from March 25 – 27, 2021. This year, 44 student entrepreneurs from 11 countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe competed for the coveted title of Company of the Year. In the end, Nagro Tech PTY Ltd. from Eswatini emerged overall winners, taking home a $1,000 cash prize and eligibility to compete against COY winners from five other regions (JA Americas, JA Asia Pacific, JA Europe, INJAZ Al Arab and JA USA) for the inaugural de la Vega Global Entrepreneurship Award, which comes with a $15,000 cash prize and a paid entrepreneurship course.
Gracing the ceremony virtually, Acting Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini, His Excellency Themba Masuku, in his welcome address said, “JA in Eswatini and in the African continent at large, plays a huge role in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness empowerment amongst the youth. This kind of education is the one that will enforce sustained economic recovery for the country and the continent.”
Special Guest Speaker at the COY Awards ceremony, Senegalese CEO of Zoox and the first Black woman to head a billion-dollar self-driving car company, Aicha Evans, addressing the young entrepreneurs said, “The world needs many more of you. With everything going on, there are many opportunities so please make sure you have fun and believe in yourself.” She added, “I want to thank JA Worldwide. It is amazing what you are making possible for the world.”
Mr. Charles Olumuyiwa Moyela, JA Africa’s Board Chair, in his remarks said, “Africa’s youth continue to prove that talent, innovation and technology are at the heart of the modern enterprise. This is a sign that Africa’s youth are plugged into the key trends shaping the 4th and 5th industrial ages.”
JA Africa’s CEO, Simi Nwogugu, congratulated all the student entrepreneurs for making it to the regional competition and expressed her gratitude to the supporters of the competition – FedEx, Citi Foundation, Mastercard, Tomorrow Foundation, PMI Educational Foundation and LAWtrust as well as speakers at the event, competition judges, JA Executive Directors, program staff and chaperones, who all contributed in diverse ways to the success of the competition.
The grand prize winner, Nagro Tech PTY Ltd. from Eswatini, produces a smart mobile tower garden with a hydroponic system and liquid fertilizers made from recycled left-over food. Coming in second place was GJI Technologie from Côte d’Ivoire, for their Eco-wind stand-alone fan with music and swivel functions, which can be controlled remotely with a smartphone. EG Company from Mauritius came in third place. They designed and produced fashionable,
comfortable nasal masks that mitigate the risk of coronavirus exposure. As part of the competition, FedEx Corp., the largest funder of the event, presented the Global Possibilities Award, recognizing the student-run businesses that best exhibits the principles of global connectivity—driven by Innovation, Connecting to New Markets, Fueling Community
Development, and Sustainable and Social Responsibility. Taking home this award was Nagro Tech PTY Ltd from Eswatini.
The event was also supported by Citi Foundation, which works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world through its “More than Philanthropy” approach, which leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill its mission and drive thought-leadership and innovation. Citi Foundation presented the Client Focus Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership in client satisfaction and a high level of commitment to quality customer service to Imperial from Gabon.
The award for Digital Innovation, funded by MasterCard, a global pioneer in payment innovation and technology connecting billions of consumers, issuers, merchants, governments and businesses, was presented to P-TUIM Holdings from Zimbabwe. This award recognizes the student company that best demonstrates innovation in using digital tools to enhance their business.
Also sponsoring the event was The Tomorrow Foundation, which supports African development by harnessing technology and brings the most useful techniques and technologies affordable to all Africans to improve their living standards. The Foundation supported the Future Tech Award, for the third year running, which is given to the company that best illustrates new, original, or groundbreaking ideas, from products to customer service to collaborations. The award went to Self-Made from Ghana and Music Plaques for You (MP4U) from South Africa. PMI Educational Foundation, a new sponsor of the competition, presented the Project Management Award to Nagro Tech PTY Ltd. from Eswatini. The team won the award for showing strong understanding of project management principles and their ability to demonstrate the application of the five Project Management processes in running their company.
Bhembe Sivesetfu, CEO of Nagro Tech PTY Ltd. from Eswatini was adjudged the best CEO among his peers and received the CEO Rising Award, which recognizes exemplary business leadership. LAWtrust, Africa’s leading trust center, security integrator and security solutions supported this award.
“I’m delighted that so many of the teams got awards,” concluded Simi Nwogugu. “It shows that all the young entrepreneurs who participated in this year’s competition demonstrated commendable resilience in building their businesses amidst the losses, anxiety, global economic recession and school shutdowns. This also shows the impact JA Africa is having on Africa’s future by raising business leaders who possess the right amount of motivation and capacity to withstand global, industrial and economic disruptions.”