Category Archives: Leadership

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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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 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!”

Practicing Financial Literacy at JA Canada

Ed sweater[Ed Zdyb (left) and Andre Gallant, JA Canada’s National Program Manager, showing off their (questionable) fashion choices.]

There are people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to enable JA Canada to carry out its mission every day. Although these individuals rarely see the spotlight, their work is significant in keeping JA Canada moving forward. One of these people is Ed Zdyb, JA Canada’s Director of Finance. He oversees and manages the overall budget, and keeps in check the organization’s revenue and expenses. To shine a light on the importance of Ed’s work and offer insights into the financial workings at JA Canada, he’s written a short blog post about his role, the challenges & opportunities of managing the budget at a charity, the importance of financial reporting & transparency, and the process of establishing a budget each year.

I’ve been at JA Canada for some six months now helping to maintain and improve financial reporting to both internal (i.e. management, committee, Board) as well as external stakeholders (i.e. donors, government, JA Worldwide).  With over 40 years of experience, primarily with not-for-profits and charities, I’ve pretty much come across all sorts of reporting challenges.  In the case of JA Canada, it needs to keep track of its revenue and expenses in a way that ensures accuracy as well as fiscal responsibility.  To do this we use “fund” accounting, which entails separating “buckets” where we track activities according to conditions established by the Board of Directors as well as the donors.

There are accounting rules to be followed – set up by accounting standard-setting bodies like the Chartered Professional Accounting Association – so that there is consistency in financial reporting across all not-for-profits, charities, and associations. This way a stakeholder can have a level of confidence when trying to assess the financial strength of an organization when they are thinking of partnering with or supporting via multi-year contribution agreement.  When it comes to organizations like JA Canada, the key element for any accounting department is to be able to use numbers and dollars to report in a way that’s understandable and transparent to all stakeholders…let’s call it “Cents-ible Storytelling”.

The “storytelling” comes into play when working on a budget – be it for a project or for JA Canada as a whole – and then being able to report on whether the project has met its original goals. In most cases, these results are more than just financial.  What is usually more important to a stakeholder is whether their donation was used responsibly and that the agreed upon goals were achieved. Such expectations require active involvement of all key JA Canada departments.  An effective budget – for a project or otherwise – should be based on a narrative that explains what – and why – undertakings are required (need), what specific activities are required to address the need, who needs to be part of the process (which staff, departments, etc.), how proposed actions will be managed, the estimated costs to achieve desired outcomes, and how results will be measured and reported (beyond simply listing expenses compared to budget).

These storytelling elements exist in the private sector, but the outcomes are usually easier to identify, namely the degree to which a company hit expected profit or profit margins.  It’s usually not that simple in the not-for-profit world, as “profit” needs to be measured in terms of expected social benefits. For example, did JA Canada increase youth participation rate in its programs?  Was JA Canada able to benefit from increased volunteer support?  Is there increased awareness of the JA brand in Canada?  Where and how did JA Canada spend its resources (in terms of donations, contributions, as well as its staff resources)?  While dollars are important, it’s usually the “Cents-ible Storytelling” that proves to be more valuable.

Ed Zdyb
Director of Finance, 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 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

 

RRVS-JA Bloghorizontal

Road to Royden Richardson Virtual School

Volunteerism is at the heart of JA’s (formerly known as Junior Achievement) success and the lifeblood of the JA experience. The recruitment, retention, and preparedness of volunteers is paramount in achieving the impact of JA programs across Canada.

Made possible through a generous gift from the Richardson family, a virtual school for volunteers was imagined to maximize reach and provide the necessary baseline training and development of JA volunteers. I was hired that year to create, envision, and launch the Royden Richardson Volunteer School and the journey from that time until now has been incredibly insightful and gratifying. The platform, dedicated to empowering JA volunteers by enabling them to prepare for their volunteer experience anytime, anywhere, is a core part of JA Canada’s ambitious Digital Strategy, JA Excelerate. The goal is for every volunteer to be successful in a dynamic digital environment that provides convenient remote access on demand to all. In this way, JA can grow its volunteer base while continuing to ensure they are successful today and in the years to come. What’s more, the use of technology provides options to increase the relevance and depth of the volunteer experience provided and to raise their quality and preparedness, and to be responsive in supporting their needs.

As part of JA Canada’s ongoing commitment to be as open as possible in all communications the project began by listening carefully and hosting numerous discussions with key stakeholders including Charters from across the country, volunteers, students and alumni.  After these initial discussions and discovery sessions, I worked very closely with our platform development and design partners, Spongelab and Avi Studio to incorporate best practices from across the country in the areas of recruitment, training and engagement. We also introduced new community and micro-volunteering features to further enhance the experience for our volunteer community.

The end result, a site that is robust and comprehensive, as well as easy to maintain, navigate, and orient. To support the diversity of needs and circumstances of our volunteers, the site supports several media types to accommodate various learning styles. We are extremely proud to present an aesthetically pleasing platform that conveys an impression of modernity, engenders excitement to volunteers, and represents educational excellence.

It is with great excitement, JA is using National Volunteer Week to unveil a new and dynamic approach to engaging a dedicated volunteer community. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about JA and the impact we have on the youth community to create an account and learn what we are doing to create for awareness, engagement and community amongst our volunteers and the greater JA community.

Safia Dakri, JA Canada, Director, Royden Richardson Virtual School for Volunteers

welcome

Team Selfie: JA Canada, JA Americas, JA Worldwide joint meeting.

JA – View to the Future

Last week, I along with the JA Canada team, JA Canada Board, JA Canada Charter Chairs and JA CEOs from across the country had the opportunity to meet with Asheesh Advani, President & CEO of JA Worldwide and Leo Martellotto, President of JA Americas. I left the meetings feeling inspired and very fortunate to work for an organization in which our global leaders are truly committed to addressing the global challenge of youth unemployment.

In order to address this challenge, JA Worldwide is actively working to ensure that the entire JA network continues to be well positioned to deliver on our mission to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in the global economy and do so as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. In a recent podcast, Asheesh talked to Kevin Daum about how he is changing the JA organization to foster innovation and his approach to leadership. A recurring theme of the podcast is that to succeed as a leader the ability to communicate and the ability to truly listen and empathize are essential.

Tina Kaichis
Vice President, Integrated Brand Marketing, JA Canada