By Helen Ugo Chimezie
Gifted Minds student company from the Community Comprehensive Secondary School Rumuokwurushi, Rivers State, has emerged winner of the 2023 Regional Company of the Year competition in Rivers State organized by Junior Achievement Nigeria with an average score of 52.8 per cent.
The competition which held in PH on July 14, 2023, had the Prolific Achievers, a student company from the Community Secondary School, Finima, taking the second position, while the Phoenix Junior Achievers, a student company from the First Baptist College, won the third position and also the award for the Best CEO in Rivers State through their CEO, Miss Ebubechukwu Udo.
Meanwhile the Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award was won by the Madja student company from the Community Secondary School, Oginigba.
The Chief Judge of the competition, Abu Benson, said the judges were very strict and urged schools to strive to score higher next time. He revealed that strict marking made the winner to score a little above average.
He also observed that most of the students companies recorded low marks in the Corporate Social Responsibility scale because either they did not pay attention to it or did not bother to state their activities in their annual reports.
He however appealed to teachers to help improve on the performances of the students next year.
Speaking earlier at the event, the Programme Manager, Junior Achievement Nigeria, Mr Olaolu Akogun, said the participating schools very fortunate to be part of a global competition.
He said: “Junior Achievement Nigeria is a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, and we run what is called a company programme.
“And the company programme is what has led to this regional company of the year competition that we are having today.
“And all over the world where Junior Achievement Worldwide is present, which is about 120 countries, this same thing is happening there. I say once again that you are very fortunate.”
Mr Akogun who explained that the competition provides an opportunity for students to kick-start themselves in life, disclosed that JAN has a vision of “a world in which young people have the skills set and mindset to build thriving communities”.
He said the company programme has shaped the mindset of students and equipped them with the skills set on entrepreneurship and other forms of financial literacy and digital literacy.
Speaking further on the sideline, Mr Akogun described the competition as the culmination of the company’s programme in Nigeria, with Rivers State being the first State to kick-start the competition this year.
He said participation is free as the JAN is a non-profit educational organization that is fully donor-funded.
He further hinted that the winner of the Regional Company of the Year Competition in Rivers State is expected to participate at the National competition coming up in October, in Lagos State, and the final winner in Nigeria would proceed to Kigali in Rwanda to represent the country in Africa.
“And the winner of the African competition is expected to represent Africa at the global competition”, he said.
The keynote speaker at the event, Mr Ignatius Chukwu, the Regional Editor of Business Day, who is also a business analyst and the 2022 winner of the Startup Journalism, urged students to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship in their lifestyle.
Mr Chukwu who was also one of the judges at the event, added that young people all over the world have a need to pick up entrepreneurship. He however noted that; “There is a misconception that anybody learning handwork or learning entrepreneurship is an unfortunate person. This is not true. The more you are brilliant, the more you should be creative.”
He therefore advised students to look around their environment and solve problems. An entrepreneur according to him, is one who sees a need, creates a solution to it, and makes money out of it. This he distinguished from a trader, who, according to him, focuses more on profit-making. A startup, he explained, is a business that is backed by digital tech and is scalable while those not scalable by IT are SMEs.
He concluded by telling the students to “go home and think between certificate and sabificate.”
Monima Brown, a teacher with the Community Senior Secondary School Bonny Island, whose school won the second position in the competition expressed joy over their victory.
She revealed thus: “Initially, I was thinking that I will give up on it, but finally we got it. Even coming out wasn’t easy, as I had to beg for the students to come out. But finally, I am very glad that we didn’t go empty handed. We are going home happy and proud.”
The competition which was sponsored by Citi Foundation is said to be one of the Junior Achievement Company programmes aimed at inspiring senior secondary school students to start and run their businesses. The students choose a business name, elect company officers, develop a product or service, and market their brands. Above all, they prepare annual report the way proper companies do it.
This year’s competition had six judges and 17 participating secondary schools in Rivers State, with the theme; ‘Breaking Barriers’.