2022 JA Africa Company of the Year Entrepreneurship Competition – Zimbabwe’s Hekima Inc. Comes Tops

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The youth of Africa showed its uncanny innovative stripes recently in Lagos at the 12th edition of JA Africa Company of the Year Competition, an intense three-day business pitch competition organized by Junior Achievement Africa.

L-R: Rufai Ladipo, MD, Agile Communications; Folami Imisioluwa, Student of International School, University of Lagos; Asheesh Advani, CEO, Junior Achievement Worldwide; Simi Nwogugu, CEO JA Africa; Denis Lebsis-Daronat, Tomorrow Foundation Representative; Tim Swain, Grant Specalist, PMIEF; and Foluso Gbadamosi, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria

At the end of the day, Hekima Inc., a software development company started by JA students from Maranatha Christian High School in Zimbabwe has emerged grand prize winners at the 2022 JA Africa Company of the Year Competition (COY). On a mission to make education accessible to all, Hekima Inc. created Study Buddie, an app designed to help students develop better study habits. For their efforts, they took home a trophy, cash prizes totaling $2,000, several other awards and a ticket to compete globally against COY winners from five other continents at JA Worldwide’s Ralph De la Vega Global Entrepreneurship competition for $15,000, educational opportunities, and more.

The announcement which was made at the Awards Ceremony of the Competition held at Eko Hotels & Suites in Lagos, Nigeria, equally identified the second place winners as Green Apex from Nigeria who made reusable and biodegradable sanitary pads, and with third place going to Time Out Company from Eswatini, which produced a power monitor called Smart Switch.

Some participants at the JA Company of the Year event

In addition to these finalist awards, deserving teams also received awards by different categories of sponsors. Headline Sponsors (FedEx, Citi Foundation and PMIEF); Platinum Sponsors: (Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson, Delta Air Lines and FirstBank Nigeria); and Gold Sponsors: (Tomorrow Foundation, Nascon Allied Industries, GB Foods and Rise).

“We have really been blown away by the level of innovation this year,” said Simi Nwogugu, CEO, JA Africa. “We gave the students a challenge to develop businesses with solutions to the world’s greatest threats and they rose to the challenge spectacularly. I am so proud of all the teams competing this week and wish Hekima Inc. the very best in winning the global competition. I am deeply grateful to the judges who had the difficult job of selecting winners and to all our sponsors who made it possible for each team to go home with at least one prize.”

Other prizes won during the Awards ceremony include:

FedEx Global Possibilities Award – Green Apex (Nigeria)

Citi Foundation Client Focus Award – Time Out (Eswatini)

PMIEF Project Management Award – Hekima Inc. (Zimbabwe)

Changemaker Award from Bloomberg – Kibega (Tanzania)

Johnson & Johnson Innovation Award – Green Apex (Nigeria)

Delta Air Lines Social Impact Award – City Multi Stars (Uganda)

FirstBank FutureFirst Award for Finance – Green Apex (Nigeria)

Tomorrow Foundation Future Tech Award – Hekima Inc. (Zimbabwe)

Nascon Entrepreneurial Excellence Award – Aquatech (Kenya)

GB Foods Rising Leaders Award – Koko Georgies (Tanzania), Millicent Kusi-Adjei (Ghana) and Shadreck Gift Sakala (Zambia)

The Rise Award – Hekima Inc. (Zimbabwe)

Public Choice Award – Green Apex (Nigeria)

Marking the 12th Edition, COY, Africa’s largest high school entrepreneurship competition, brought together nine winning teams from Eswatini, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe for an intense three-day business pitch competition. The young entrepreneurs brought their A-game, impressing the judges with their business solutions to the challenges being faced within their schools and communities.

Uche Pedro, the Founder and CEO of entertainment and lifestyle media tech brand, Bella Naija, was the Keynote Speaker at the Awards Ceremony. Addressing the students, she said, “I have been privy and witnessed rapid innovations over the last decade. Innovations that have been leveraged to build successful companies. As we look at what my generation has done, I can say with utmost confidence, looking at the COY finalists, that we have changemakers that are going to change the world.”

Mr. Charles Olumuyiwa Moyela, JA Africa’s Board Chair, in his remarks said, “Our dream is to have JA in all the 54 countries in Africa and that tells you the gap we have to fill. We need to do more. My hope is that by this time next year, JA Africa will expand to five to six more countries and the next five to ten years, expand to more than half the continent.”

The JA Africa Company of the Year competition is JA Africa’s annual celebration of the achievements of young entrepreneurs in the region. Students who participate in the competition have received entrepreneurship training while in school through the JA Company Program which enables young people to understand the role of business in the global economy by allowing them to organize and operate an actual business enterprise.

For more information, visit: www.ja-africa.org/coy2022

About JA Africa

As one of Africa’s largest and most-impactful youth-serving NGOs, JA Africa operates in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and collectively reaches over 300,000 youth in more than 3,000 schools each year. JA Africa works in Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Visit ja-africa.org for details.

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