Listed number four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, quality education of young people is paramount to shaping the future we aspire towards. The realisation of this truth has led to the global increase in the emergence of youth programs and organisations devoted to supporting the holistic development of young people. One such organisation is the Junior Achievement Worldwide, one of the largest global organizations focused on the economic empowerment of youth. As a branch of Junior Achievement Worldwide; Junior Achievement Mascareignes is dedicated to educating Mauritian youth on financial and economic literacy; innovation and entrepreneurship; workforce readiness and soft skills which are much needed for the 21st century work environment.
Every year, Junior achievement Mascareignes organises The Company Program, one of their Learn by Doing Programs. The Company program has been running for the past eight years and is the flagship program of Junior Achievement Mascareignes. The program is organised for young people between the ages 15 to 19 and is centered on hands-on experience and business development. Through the eleven week long program, the young participants are challenged with the art of competition; entrepreneurial acumen; public speaking; product marketing and sales amongst others.
Last year, our company sponsored the winners of the national Junior Achievement Company Program to the regional competition held in Ghana. The Mauritian team was represented by four grade 12 students from The Royal College of Port Louis whose innovative product and business acumen won them the national competition. Thinking through the perspective of problem solving, the Atlantis Co. Ltd’s product ‘Aquabag’ is a waterproof bag designed to keep books and school supplies from getting drenched during the rainy season. The competition brought together several teams from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Mauritius. All teams pitched their innovative ideas with an eye on the grand prize.
Despite not emerging first in the regional competition, the Mauritian team testified that the competition was a great learning opportunity and an eye-opening experience for them. Risheek Chummun, general manager of Atlantis Co. Ltd shares his experience saying “once at the regional competition, it was a great and enriching experience. We had the opportunity to meet inspiring individuals, successful businessmen, CEOs and representatives of global enterprises. We had to venture out of our comfort zone by presenting in front of a large audience composed of professionals and fellow participants. It was an immense honour to represent Mauritius at regional level”.
Additionally, when asked about the level of competitiveness of the regional competition, Ani-Keith Teeluckdharry, stock controller at Atlantis Co. Ltd replied “one important thing we learnt in Ghana is that we need to know how to tap into our potential. We listened to people talk, some who did not even have a formal academic background, yet today, they have become internationally respected entrepreneurs. So Why not us?” Many other such testimonies from alumni of Junior Achievement Mascareignes prove that the programs offered are truly impactful and life changing.
Learning from their experience in Ghana where they were challenged by the digitally innovative perspectives of the other African teams, the Atlantis Co. Ltd advocate for the need of disruptive technological entrepreneurship among Mauritian youth. Given the current high youth unemployment rate, there is a real need for the youth to shift towards passion-driven entrepreneurship which leads to the creation of more jobs and contributes to economic growth.
The Mauritian youth unemployment rate stands at an alarming rate of 23.5% as of 2019 (World Bank). Several factors which contribute to this high rate include the mismatch between the demand and supply of skills of young workers and lack of experience and training for high skilled jobs. Consequently, the economy suffers a loss of productivity, talent and skills from the country’s most physically active population.
In support of the development of the youth, we at Rogers Capital for the past three years have been a firm sponsor of Junior Achievement Mascareignes. We are committed to supporting the NGO through active mentorship and coaching of the young participants by our staff on financial literacy and the art of competing. Urmila Toofany, a Client Relationship Officer at Rogers Capital, describes her role as a Communications Coach for the young participants as “Fulfilling to coach the participants on public speaking and presentation skills to boost their confidence”. Additionally, we are engaged in funding activities and programs aimed at the quality education of our youth. Rogers Capital’s active involvement in the Junior Achievement Mascareignes programs is evidence of the value we place of shaping the future of the youth and the country at large.