JumpStart Academy Africa Co-founder, Madelle Kangha’s Address on the Occasion of the Inaugural Class Graduation in Cameroon

Divisional Delegate for Secondary Education,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning.

Today, 100 young people aged 15 – 19, are about to make history by graduating as the first class of JumpStart Academy Africa in Cameroon.
This is a moment of euphoria for all of us here at JumpStart because we are confident that these boys and girls, soon to women and men, are the leaders and entrepreneurs that will shape the future of country Cameroon and our continent.
To you, our scholars, you all are Ambassadors of JumpStart Academy Africa so as head out into the world, Dare Greatly, Make your Mark on the world and always be Legends of Positive Change.

Today is the culmination of a journey which for me, started two years ago – In August 2013 after a year of working on Youths4Change  I took a step back startled at the growing rate of unemployment in Cameroon and across the continent. |
At that time McKinsey had  just published a groundbreaking study of the impact of education on employment (“Education to Employment“), which highlighted the challenging mismatch between the educational system and the job skills employers need – while 42% of employers believe newly educated workers are ready for work, 72% of educational institutions do. This enormous mis-match alludes to the fact that we have a skills crisis.
To put things in context, under the current model, half of sub-Saharan Africa’s total primary school population – 61 million children – will reach adolescence without the basic skills needed to lead successful and productive lives. And over the next 10 years, there will be 108 million more school-age children across the continent.
So this is urgent and important! And the question I asked myself at the time was – What can I, What can we do now; to ensure that these 108 million more school-age children acquire skills that will enable them to escape the gravitational pull of mass poverty and be able to create opportunities for themselves in the job market?

The quest for an answer to this question led Omotola Akinsola and myself  to co-found Jumpstart Academy Africa.
At the Academy, we identify existing schools in Cameroon and Nigeria and partner with them to create improved learning environments that equip young people with the skills that will make them assets for any work environment in the 21st Century.
Using a student-based and interactive approach to learning, our  curriculum cultivates critical thinking, ethical leadership, an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, and civic engagement, helping hundreds of young people between 15 and 19 become valued contributors in the job market.

Since commencing operations in February 2014, Our first class seated here today is a testament that our model is effective as these young people are already creating a ripple effect in their communities.
From launching social ventures in health, agriculture and hospitality, each of our scholars are breaking barriers and igniting possibilities in their communities:
– Pre-JumpStart, our scholars had an average income of $18 a month and after completing the program, our scholars now have an average income of $74  – a startling 311% increase.
– Our scholars have created 8 Viable businesses and social enterprises which have generated a combined revenue of over half a million frs CFA in under six months of operation.
– Within first Academic term 75% of our scholars saw an average 70% improvement in their academic performance.

And I am elated to announce that three of them, will be joining our team next Academic year as Mentor Fellows to cultivate the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

As an Academy, we have had some challenges but we have made some significant leaps and bounds:
– We established exciting new partnership with the African Leadership Academy to serve as a catalyst for the BUILD-in-a-Box program.
– We also partnered with Sandbox Interactive, Inc. on the use of Captivator®, and starting this September our scholars will be able to use web-based learning application for online lessons and examinations, with accurate and timely reporting.
– We have been recognized by Vital Voices Fellowship, Ashoka Changemakers, American Express Emerging Innovators, the World’s Greatest Problem Solvers, Under 35 CEO, Real-Leaders and Forbes as Innovative Africans fixing a Broken Education System.
We have come a long way and we have an even longer road ahead but we are confident that we are headed in the right direction.

I can’t continue without acknowledging a group of people who have been a pivot to how far we have come and how far we will go.
I call them the Dream Team. The Mentor Fellows and Team at JumpStart Academy Africa are among the brightest minds in Cameroon. These young men and women consistently work with sweat, tears,  passion and unwavering commitment.
Leading this team is Estella Bih-Neh Nsoh, a 5th year of Medical School at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Buea. Ms Nsoh is a Recipient of the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence and the First ever female President of the Buea University School of Medicine Students’ Association. On this note I am happy to announce her appointment as the Country Director for JumpStart Academy Africa in Cameroon.
Working with Ms Nsoh are: Terence Munda, External Relations and Communications Officer, Lovert Nde, Design and Training Officer, Macaulay Alunge, Scholar Engagement and Lifelong Learning. And of course our Mentor Fellows Nini Yesih Ngwengi, Sama Ndofor, Gillean Tsafor and Ngafi Eugene Manyoh.
You all are the champions of JumpStart Academy Africa and it has been an honor to work and serve with you – Thank You

To our Donors, Supporters and Partners at home, We Thank You – To the Delegate and Representatives from the Ministry of Education present today, our speakers and our Board of Advisors. It has been exhilarating to have so much support at home and your invaluable support is a message that we as Cameroonians can work together for the common good.
To our supporters around the world, the Umsizi Fund, Red Empress Foundation. Our friends at Ashoka Changemakers, Real-Leaders, American Express Emerging Innovators, Watson University, Monterey Institute of International Studies and Sandbox Inc. Your continued support enables us to develop the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

I would like to end with a Call to Action to all of you  present.
We invite you to deepen your relationship with JumpStart Academy Africa and play an active role in helping us to develop the next generation of ethical leaders and entrepreneurs.
You can volunteer, partner with us, sponsor a scholar. You can Stay updated: Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook.

Whatever you do – we invite you to join us as we Barriers and Ignite Possibilities across Cameroon, Nigeria and Africa.

Thank You!