My Junior Achievement story

It all started… No, that’s not right. My epic Junior Achievement (JA) journey began in my second
term as a Form 2 student in Mang’u High School. After a few months spent in search of a club
that would fulfill my need to belong, I stumbled upon a poster on a notice board announcing
that Junior Achievement was enrolling members. I quickly followed up on the matter to find out
exactly what the club did and after my research, I found incentive to join it- money. Sad as this
was (given the fact that there was so much more to JA) it was indeed the case and to this day I
share it openly and laugh whenever I remember my myopic perspective at the time.

Of course my reasons for being in JA changed as time elapsed and I became familiar with its
workings. The company we formed in that year (2007) went by the name SkyCorp Ltd and was
headed by a gentleman by the name Abe Enock Wawa. His leadership charisma and patience in
adversity led me to believe that truly there was more to being a JA member than getting a salary
after a hard day of selling peanut butter to fellow students. There was a platform for developing
leadership skills, communication skills and even an entrepreneurial spirit, ALL in one captivating
experience!

Having discovered the opportunity I’d been granted, I set out to and eventually managed to join
the presentation team that represented Mang’u in the regional and national JA expos. We had
a successful spell that year, with SkyCorp winning the Biashara of the Year Award: Thika region
at the regional expo and the Uzuri Award at the national level. After our successes and even
appreciation from the school principal Mr. Henry Raichena, a tough task lay ahead for the next
year. Knowing full well that the road would not be easy, I still applied for the post of President
for the next year and was elected for the job. The ball lay in my court and the only way I could
take the company I would lead was up.

With the weight of my responsibilities in mind, I set out to enroll members for the company
that would try to reach pinnacles its predecessors had not. Our company would go by the
name Memphitz Corporation. (“Memphitz” was derived from the name of the historic Ancient
Egyptian city of Memphis). The uncharted heights that were, in our case, a national Biashara
of the Year award, were what we had in mind as the pinnacle of our JA success. In line with
working towards that victory, we came up with 5 interesting business projects: Apiculture (bee-
keeping), Letter branding, Simu ya J.A-mii, Card making and sale of crisps (Arrow root, banana
and sweet potato flavours). As is the way with life, the company had its fair share of challenges

and trying times, the most memorable being when we lost a large concession of crisps due to
vandalism among others. However, we remained perspicacious in our quest to see our company
attain the most treasured JA honour in the country.

The National Expo on October 4th 2008 was where we would have our names etched into
history, one way or another. An entire year of effort would be put to the test against several
other equally eager and competitive schools to decide who deserved to be hailed as the
Company of the Year. Our presentations were ready and our stand was open for all, but the
anxiety and nervousness was blatant on all our faces. Personally my mind was racing at the
thought of all our work being lost in the sands of time just because we failed to win! I could
barely stomach the thought.

The defining moment of that epic October day finally came at about 6 o’clock in the evening
when the then Barclays Bank of Kenya Sales Manager, Mr. Don Mbithi, was called on stage
to announce the final results for the National Expo. The tension as he read out the winners in
each category was almost tangible. I felt a semblance of peace when we were awarded the
Faida of the Year award for most sustainable profits. However, that peace was short-lived when
Mr. Mbithi began announcing the best companies in ascending order from third runner-up.
Predictably he lingered for quite some time when he was to mention the winners. I remember
vividly how I turned to look at the faces of my colleagues one last time only to see that they
were just as anxious to know the winners as I was.

When the words “Mang’u High School” left Mr. Mbithi’s mouth, my life changed forever! After
all the dust had settled and the fact that we had just been crowned national champions had
sunk, I thought my Junior Achievement journey had come to its end. I was greatly mistaken!

Since October 4th 2008 I have had the opportunity to shadow one of Kenya’s most renowned
corporate personalities, Michael Joseph, for a day and to visit one of East Africa’s most
respected manufacturers, Bidco Ltd. The experience was not only humbling, but also revelatory
for me as an individual. I learnt that even Chief Executive Officers are human beings with
feelings and passions, and not just individuals programmed to seek success. I also understood
that great success may take time, but a strong will to achieve it can help one conquer any
obstacles.

In conclusion, I believe it is evident from my experience and that of others not shared here, that
Junior Achievement truly impacts youth, not only in Kenya but globally! I can say with certainty
that even my present degree choice, Financial Economics, was greatly influenced by my entire
JA experience. Had I not been exposed to business and leadership through JA, I probably would
still be uncertain about what my passions are and how to pursue them! Junior Achievement has
changed MY life, make a choice, take a bold step and see it change YOURS.

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