Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Steven Wang | Rhodes Scholar

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


At 17, Steven Wang of Toronto, Canada, used his experience with JA to found Community Action by Youth, which empowered young people to address poverty and climate change. He served as a youth delegate to the United Nations and started a sustainable micro-finance project in Kenya. Today, he’s a Rhodes Scholar at Lincoln College in Oxford, England, earning a master’s in international relations.

“Junior Achievement was one of those first turning points,” Steven says, “where I realized there are ways to grow as a person and a leader.”

“I’m tremendously grateful [for JA,] and who knows where I would be today, if it weren’t for JA.”

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Mostafa Hemdan | RecycloBekia

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


Mostafa Hemdan participated in JA Worldwide/INJAZ Egypt’s Startup Program for college students and quickly saw a niche in the electronics waste-management field. This green industry refines the precious metals found in old smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and also gets rid of the hazardous materials in those electronics. For this business idea, Mostafa and his team won the INJAZ Egypt Startup Competition and the FedEx Access Award.

Now the CEO of RecycloBekia, Mostafa employees 10 full-time and 6 part-time employees, processing 30 tons of electronics each month, with huge growth plans.

“I am Mostafa Hemdan,” he says. “I am the CEO of RecycloBekia. I am JA.”

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Donna Shalala | University of Miami

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami and former Secretary of Health & Human Services, has raised a mid-size university in South Florida to one of the best in the United States. “In many ways, ” she says, “universities are small businesses.” And it was JA that gave her that business experience.

“I’m Donna Shalala. I am JA!”

Media Marvels: London entrepreneurs turn high school passions into profits

As young entrepreneurs, David Aideyan, Ayush Vaidya and Nick Lavery of London, Ontario march to their own beat.

For Aideyan and Vaidya, both 20, that’s their business. They own Everest Media Group, which markets media services and a catalogue of rap, hip hop and R&B beats to musicians. As teenagers, Vaidya produced instrumentals and Aideyan rapped over them for fun. Eventually their high school passion evolved into a money-making venture.
David Aideyan

In high school, Lavery was into a different medium – videos. He shot everything from family road trips to basketball games. His friends thought they were good, and word spread. Some athletes in his high school asked Lavery to make videos of them in action. Based on that, Lavery received an Ontario government grant for summer companies for his business idea to produce highlight reels of high school football and basketball players. These athletes ultimately used them to draw interest from university teams. (Pictured: David Aideyan)

Once in university himself, Lavery, 22, transformed the business from sports videos to corporate videos. His company, Take5 Digital, has produced videos for clients ranging from the London Knights junior hockey team to a local law firm.

The three entrepreneurs have something in common beyond their youth, creativity and media-focused businesses. They are JA London and District alumni who participated in Company Program. All three credit the program with providing the foundation – the skills, experience and encouragement – for business success.

“I gained the confidence that business is a viable career option,” says Lavery.

Finding the rhythm of business
After high school, Vaidya took two years of medical sciences in university, while Aideyan studied economics. Now both attend the Ivey Business School at Western University, and pay much of their way with the revenue from Everest.

They manage 10 producers who’ve made beats available for Everest to license to some 1,500 clients. In addition, Everest provides services from graphic and web design to music production, to fully support musicians in building a professional image.

Ayush Vaidya

 “We handle the business, so people can focus on making their music,” says Vaidya.

Before Everest, their formative business experience was JA. One lesson stood out: Build on your uniqueness. “You have to identify what’s really valuable,” says Aideyan. He also learned from handling different personalities. “When you have diversity in your business, you come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise. JA helped us with that,” he says. (Pictured: Ayush Vaidya)

Vaidya credits his JA company (selling “memory” trees for a park) with teaching him about knowing where to target customers (a London farmer’s market). “Now, we tailor our marketing to Instagram and a site called SoundClick, to focus on a few platforms and be the best at those streams for selling instrumentals,” says Vaidya.

Business dreams become a realityNick Lavery(Nick Lavery)

Like the Everest partners, Lavery credits JA for making his business dreams feel achievable. “A lot of my friends probably wouldn’t consider what I’m doing, having a business now as a source of income,” says Lavery. “JA was quite an influence in making this decision.”

At King’s University College in London, where he studied business, Lavery earned an assignment shooting video for the Western football team. One job led to another – filming training camp and games for the London Beefeaters Football Club, documenting a season of Guelph Gryphons football, and shooting a 50th anniversary video for the Knights.

And it continued when a Knights sponsor had Lavery shoot promos to play on the video board during games. His corporate portfolio now includes videos for U. S. Steel Canada, the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board, a health club, and a London restaurant.

Lavery took a break from university this past year to grow his business. He’s now figuring out how to juggle work and ongoing studies.

Bev Robinson, President of JA London and District, says Achievers carry key lessons from JA into their post-secondary lives. Besides the fundamental entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, JA gives them the chance to fail in a low-risk environment, learning more about business and resilience.

In an ultra-competitive work world, JA students get the early opportunity to walk into a room and present ideas, lead a real company, brand something, and make a case. “Power,” says Robinson, “is the ability to sell yourself confidently.”

Lavery agrees. “Reading a textbook only gets you so far. You have to go out there and do it, and have the opportunity to put the skills into action.”

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You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Alexander Kanshin | Megapir Corporation

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia made the difficult transition to a market economy. That same year, JA opened its first location in Russia and began training students in entrepreneurship, workforce readiness, and financial literacy. Alexander Kanshin was one of those students, and he helped build the Russian economy, where small- and medium-sized businesses now make up nearly 95% of the businesses in Russia. He’s the general director of Megapir Corporation, a commercial real estate firm that builds trade centers all over Moscow. “JA is a bridge from childhood to real business,” he says. A successful one, too: JA Russia is now the second-largest participating JA country in the world, with well over 1 million students per year.

“My name is Alexander Kansin. I am JA. I am very proud of it!”

A Parent’s Perspective on JA

Together copy(Mairi and Ian McKinnon at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala)

Ian McKinnon is the proud father of Mairi McKinnon (a winner of JA’s Deloitte Inspiration Award). He watched his daughter become involved with JA Company Program – first as a participant and then president – through the Halifax Grammar School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the video blog (or “vlog”) below, Ian shares the impact JA has had on Mairi and also has a message for prospective parents. Ian McKinnon is Founder and President of GroundSwell Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Introducing Our New Multimedia Designer

Reggie Blog Picture

Hi everyone, my name is Reggie Bamrah, and I am very excited to introduce myself as the multimedia designer here at JA Canada! It’s going to be very exciting to work on the JA brand and to be able to contribute to an organization that helps to provide Canadian youth with the skills and tools they need to succeed in an increasingly complex business environment.

I believe that the core foundation of JA, the 3 pillars: Work Readiness, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy, are key components to achieve success. I can’t stress enough how important it is for students to learn these vital skills. I remember coming out of college and trying to navigate the intimidating new environment that I had graduated into. There is no doubt in my mind that having a strong foundation in these pillars would have made it easier for me to do this. Once I entered the working world, practical skills like money management, interviewing, and communication and critical thinking were important in landing a job and saving money. The programs offered by JA cover all these areas and more.

Coming into a non-profit organisation when I was originally from a retail background was a big change (in a good way!). I feel more in control of projects and have the ability to plan and organize my day as well as influence the strategy approach of the marketing at JA. Creating work that appeals to multiple audiences and working with the different charters across Canada will be a very interesting and exciting experience.  It feels very refreshing to be part of an amazing team whose mission statement is to “inspire youth and prepare them to succeed in a global economy”.

It’s been great meeting the team and getting more in-depth knowledge of the organisation through my series of orientation meetings with the education, youth engagement, and administration departments. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with creative people at Spongelab Interactive, who we are working with to create an interactive game to teach students about entrepreneurship and what it takes to build and run a business.

My first week at JA was a busy one: I assisted with marketing material for the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala and managed the setup of signs and posters at the event to establish the look and feel of the evening. I am very excited to support a number of future initiatives that are being worked on such as the Next Generation Leaders Forum (NGL) – a conference that brings together students from all over the world for a week of team building and collaboration to solve real world business challenges, and Skills Map – which will be a mobile application that allows students to learn at their own pace.

As a designer, it is my responsibility to create work that serves a purpose and helps people and the community. JA Canada’s values and core beliefs perfectly align with that goal. I have volunteered and done work for other non-profits and community initiatives and that is where I produce my strongest work. I’m excited to continue to produce great eye-catching work that helps students achieve and become the leaders of tomorrow!

Reggie Bamrah
Multimedia Designer, JA Canada

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Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

Making Learning Fun

JA Excelerate

Nearly 60 years ago, JA Canada gave Canadian students a taste of experiential learning by introducing our Company Program. It was innovative and exciting. Today, JA Canada offers 15 programs to 250,000 students across the country and continues to bring innovative and exciting learning experiences. A key part of this is through the introduction of digital content and game-based learning, as well as through the gamification of our online content. This approach was validated by a Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) study completed in February of 2015, which recommended among other things that JA “emphasize ‘blended’ learning with technology serving as the catalyst of the vision”. By incorporating this validated approach, JA is applying educational methods deeply rooted in a strong foundation of research, best practices, and modern trends.

As part of the first phase of our JA Excelerate initiative, we’ve added digital elements to three of our most popular programs including Economics for Success, Dollars with Sense, and Our Business World, with digital elements soon to be integrated into the refreshed A Business of Our Own. The program enhancements started out as digital slideshows, and have quickly evolved to videos and interactive HTML activities. The reasoning is simple: Today’s students have grown up in the digital space. Rather than asking them to go back to the pen-and-paper age, JA Canada is going to where they already are. Feedback from teachers and volunteers around these initiatives has been very positive, particularly in regards to student interest in the programs.

Great content is important, but great content doesn’t guarantee engagement. And while school has external motivators such as mandatory attendance and grades, we need to give students reasons to engage with our content for their own benefit. That’s where gamification – the concept of inserting elements of gameplay into non-game situations – helps out. For instance, granting “experience points” for engaging with content, giving rewards for accumulating points, and offering clever designations or titles are concepts from the gaming world that serve to motivate users to use platforms frequently and build a merit-based community. It is an emerging practice in education, and has shown promising results in terms of learner engagement.

These two concepts, game-based learning and gamification, will ensure that JA continues to deliver engaging and impactful programs in the future.

Andre Gallant
National Program Manager, JA Canada
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Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

Introducing Our New Marketing Communications Assistant

Blog photo 1

Hi everyone! My name is Daniel Kim, and I’m very excited to introduce myself as the newest member at JA Canada’s national office. In the role of marketing communications assistant, I look forward to having a hand in a variety of projects on the media and brand marketing side of the organization – this includes the development of this blog! It’s only been about a week since I started but I’ve hit the ground running! I wanted to use my first blog post to share a little bit about myself, and what inspired me to join JA Canada’s fantastic team here in Toronto.

I’ve learned so much already in the past week about JA Canada’s history, organizational structure, its various departments, and the ambitious vision it has moving forward. This is due to the very informative and friendly orientation meetings with everyone here at the office. I want to extend a huge thank you to my fellow colleagues who made me feel welcome and were so patient in answering all my questions! Good timing allowed me to also participate in last week’s JA America Regional Communications meeting and hear about the tremendous work being planned or underway with our fellow global partners. I look forward to working closer with them – and our charters in Canada – in the coming weeks.

I am incredibly moved by JA Canada’s mission statement, which is to “inspire youth and prepare them to succeed in a global economy”. I’m a strong advocate for youth education and in engaging our young leaders to equip them for our ever-changing economy. I have always tried to participate in the advocacy of causes I believe in through volunteer work and extra curricular activities within and outside my local community. Only a week in and I can already see many differences between the private vs. non-profit sector. There are wonderfully creative strategies, visions, and detailed plans in place here at JA Canada to move forward with into the future. But these can only be realized with funding from our generous supporters who believe in our work. I see the unique challenges – and opportunities! – that charities and non-profits across the country face day-to-day.

I share JA Canada’s values and core beliefs in investing in our youth to ensure that they are work ready, entrepreneurial, and financially literate. Our educational programs are based on these 3 pillars in support of our mission statement. And as a university graduate just a few years removed from school, I cannot stress the importance of these pillars and how each have affected my life in some way or form immeasurably as soon as I left the school campus and entered the workforce. Being a professional in the workplace, thinking on your feet, using imagination in your work, and managing a personal budget are important to your career – and your life – no matter where you work or what you do. Whether a student decides to pursue a career in business or not, the lessons and educational values they attain through JA Canada’s programs will help them. There is no doubt about this.

I think one of the wonderful things working in advocacy or working in a non-profit environment is that you put yourself in a situation where you work together with others to realize a clearly stated vision. There is an alignment of goals toward a worthy mission here at JA Canada. You work with a tight-knit group whose values lines up with yours and it no longer seems like work – it becomes a passion.

I am excited to contribute in the effort of JA Canada’s goal, which is to reach one million students per year by 2020. I consider myself lucky to be supporting this effort.

Daniel Kim
Marketing Communications Assistant, JA Canada

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Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

Transformative Learning

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Robert Martellacci, Founder and President, MindShare Learning and discovered incredible synergies between the work that he is doing and how JA Canada is evolving. Following our meeting and fueled by the common ground, I made the time to read the C21: Shifting Minds 3.0 position paper this weekend.

This statement jumped out at me and inspired this post :

“The transformative view is that learning is a social process, with students and teachers working in partnership with each other and with experts beyond school, supported by digital technologies. In the transformative view, collaboration, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial know-how, and ethical citizenship infuse teaching and learning. Students and teachers co-design their work. The learning environment, which extends beyond the classroom, is purposefully designed for students to think, research, analyze, develop and improve their ideas, and demonstrate deep understanding through the work they produce.”

This “transformative view” of learning experiences is exactly what JA creates with our most significant program: JA Company Program (Over a four-month period, JA’s Company Program teaches grade 9-12 students how to organize and operate a real business. Volunteers from the local business community work with students to launch and run a small enterprise. This gives students the real-world skills and experience that they need to uncover their potential.)

Achievers say that participation in Company Program provides a transformational event that alters ambition.*

I highly recommend looking deeper into the work of C21: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation, and consider having a closer look at the practical example of JA’s Company Program in creating the outcomes described as “transformative.”

* BCG Impact Study (2011) – for more information on JA’s impact.

Stephen Lippa, Vice President Education & Digital Strategy, JA Canada