Honourable Ministers

Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps

Senior Government officials

JA Africa CEO, Miss Elizabeth Bintliff

Chairperson and Board of Junior Achievement Eswatini

Executive Director and Staff of Junior Achievement Eswatini

Competition Judges

Junior Achievement Sponsors

Captains of Industry

Principals, Teachers and Facilitators in the JA Schools

Members of the media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am always excited to be part of proceedings that promote youth entrepreneurship - and today is no different.

May I register my appreciation and honour for the opportunity to witness this 11th edition of the Schools Company of the year competition, and congratulate Junior Achievement Eswatini for hosting another successful edition.

I take this opportunity, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to extend a warm welcome to the Africa CEO of Junior Achievement Ms Elizabeth Bintliff to the Kingdom of Eswatini and hope your presence will inspire our excellent Eswatini JA Chapter to reach more heights in the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in schools.

There remains no doubt that entrepreneurship is a smart tool that can be effectively used to eradicate unemployment and, in extension, poverty and social ills in society. Indeed entrepreneurship is regarded by many as the gateway to self-sustainability and economic development and empowerment. Many scholars have described entrepreneurship as not just the process of starting a venture, but creating value in the midst of risk.  

The unfortunate dent is that unemployment has the tendency of mainly affecting the youth who have no experience to use as leverage to obtaining a job. This is where entrepreneurship education becomes vital to equip our young people with the skills to innovate and create ventures that will not only allow them to make a decent living but provide employment opportunities for others. It is where Junior Achievement derives its value.

In his Speech from the Throne early in the year, His Majesty King Mswati III instructed Government to upscale youth empowerment programmes to ensure that young people have access to opportunities that will enhance their growth enabling all to make a meaningful contribution to the economic renewal and stability of this country.

It is for this reason that Government has revived the Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund which has already offered business loans to 43 young business people who are projected to create over 120 jobs. The process of releasing more funds to a new group of applicants is underway and is being coordinated by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs. May I encourage all the young budding entrepreneurs whom we have seen here today to come up with attracting business proposals that will enable you to access these funds. The Youth Fund does not just turn down any application but provides guidance on how the applicant can improve their application for the future.

As renowned young author and speaker Adora Svitak says, (I quote) “There’s no committee that decides this is the type of person who can change the world – and you can’t. Realizing that anyone can do it is the first step. The next step is figuring out how you’re going to do it.” (unquote).

Government is determined to provide the necessary impetus and conducive environment to allow for the smooth and regulated growth of the private sector.

The private sector has consistently been the engine of economic growth for many nations and Eswatini is no exception as ably identified by the Strategic Roadmap which was launched in May of this year. The Roadmap identifies five key sectors of growth for the Government over the next five years. They are Education and ICT, Mining and Energy, Manufacturing and Agro processing, Agriculture and Tourism. We all have the responsibility to ensure that these plans are effectively implemented for the advancement of all Emaswati.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the success and exponential growth of the Junior Achievement (JA) Eswatini programme over the years is exciting. I am told that this year, a total of 55 schools participated in the programme, reaching over 1500 students on the JA company programme, 6500 on Financial Literacy education and about 500 students were placed in 94 companies for 5 days to experience the world of work under the JA Job Shadow programme. What is more gratifying is that a majority of these schools are in rural areas where the rate of unemployment remains high.

While entrepreneurship education remains a priority in schools, the challenge is to extend such skills to out of school youth and offering business mentorship to all young people venturing into the business space. May I acknowledge JA Eswatini for occupying this space and offering an out of school programme which reached 260 young people this year. This is a remarkable accomplishment and I take this opportunity to encourage JA to continue on this trajectory of growth by reaching more young Emaswati across the land.

Government is determined to continue supporting youth empowerment programmes as we have financially backed the JA programme and other similar programmes over the years.

And no one can doubt the innovative and competitive spirit of young Emaswati as evidenced by the number of times the schools champions of the Eswatini JA competition have conquered the rest of Africa. We should all be proud that this programme has produced four African champions from Eswatini in eight attempts. This speaks to the value this programme adds to the process of inculcating an entrepreneurship culture among the youth of this country.

My gratitude goes to all the sponsors of JA Eswatini, including the companies who have partnered with JA in both the Out of School youth programme and the Job Shadow programme. I also wish to thank the Embassy of Taiwan for the consistent support to the youth of Eswatini.

We would not be gathered here if it was not for the amazing work of teachers who have taken this calling with determination and dedication. Your guidance and contribution to youth development and entrepreneurship is appreciated and valued.

As I conclude, may I congratulate all schools who have taken part in all stages of this competition.  It always sounds cliché yet true that you are all winners. If anything, competition breeds innovation and creativity which are vital components of business growth and success.

May I congratulate in advance the overall winner who will crowned today to represent the country in the JA Africa company of the year competition in Accra, Ghana. The quality and intensity of this competition gives us hope that you will raise the country’s flag and become the fifth Eswatini winner of the African Championship.

Thank you. May God bless us all.

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