11th JA Africa Company of the Year Competition: Innovation with Grit

February 2022 Mauritius

Tomorrow Foundation is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the 11th version of the JA Competition of the Year 2021 (COY21) for the 4th year which once again saw an astonishing amount of talent unfold. The event was hosted in beautiful Mauritius, but unfortunately for the second year, the event had to take place online and was streamed on YouTube (see links at the end). Tomorrow Foundation was represented by their Project Manager Kathrine Lind Amdisen who granted the Foundation’s Future Tech Award.  

The nine African countries attending were Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Kenya, Zambia, Mauritius, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ivory Coast, and they all competed to win the grand prize and represent Africa at the Global Competition where they have a chance to win the 1st prize of 15,000 USD sponsored by Ralph de la Vega.  

COY21 commenced with opening remarks from JA Africa's leadership and key players of youth entrepreneurship and education in the host country, Mauritius. JA Africa's CEO, Simi Nwogugu, kicked off the competition with a message of appreciation to donors, speakers, judges, staff, and students, and said:

“When young people are given the opportunities to channel their energy and creativity positively, the African continent’s potential is unlimited.”

Her speech was followed by inspiring opening remarks by several prestigious figures: 

In their speeches, they emphasised that today’s youths are the global leaders of tomorrow which is something our foundation strongly agrees on. As said by Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T: “Entrepreneurship is the great equaliser” that can contribute tremendously in bridging the gap and provide more opportunities for a greater number of African youths.  


Less than a quarter of the more than 350 million young Africans who will enter the labour force by 2035 will find formal wage employment. That demographic bulge could have scary implications for Africa and the world. Surging youth populations can easily push fragile nations to the brink, driving food insecurity, migration, and violent extremism. But, correctly harnessed, they can also offer an opportunity for the accelerated economic transformation of the whole continent.  

Engagement, energy, creativity and innovative perspectives are essential to face and overcome the daunting challenges on the African continent both in the present and in the future. But there are many opportunities to grab onto right now, also pushed by the pandemic. Since the per capita income has declined, there is a unique opportunity on developing solutions that can lower costs. Ideas that create more efficiency and lower costs are going to have a significant opportunity going forward. Also, the strong smartphone penetration on the continent creates a lot of job opportunities and forces entrepreneurs to think about how to create technology-enabled solutions that leverage things like mobile technology. 

The Tomorrow Foundation Future Tech Award this year went to the young entrepreneurs from Kenya with their Project Joof who best seized the momentum of the pandemic, seeking to deliver more affordable and technology-driven mental health services to young people who especially took a major hit hard during the pandemic. 


Signature and Branded Awards:

FedEx Global Possibilities Award: Eswatini - Hydro Power Systems

CITI Foundation Client Focused Award: Nigeria - Kera Terra 

Tomorrow Foundation Future Tech Award: Kenya - Project Joof

PMIEF Project Management Award: KeyScape, South Africa and Project Joof, Kenya

CEO Rising Award:  Maureen Stephen Essien, Nigeria
- presented by Kola Olofinboba, Managing Partner at Fairway Capital


 Public Choice Award: Mauritius 


And the podium prizes go to: 

Phil Mlambo, COO of JA Africa, presents the 3rd place to Mauritius as a team whose objective was to help individuals to cope with the consequences of the pandemic, truly innovating with grit by developing a beautifully crafted sanitising station shelf.

Camille Blair, Head Judge and Human Resources Team Lead at Capitol One, US, said about Eswatini team behind Hydro Power systems who won 2nd place, that they have demonstrated solid leadership, excellent communication and productive collaboration in their startup that converts running water in regular household into electricity. 


Asheesh Advani, CEO Worldwide, has the honours of announcing Kenya with their Project Joof as the grand award and winner of COY Africa who will represent Africa at the Global Award Competition sponsored by Ralph de la Vega and compete for the 15,000 USD prize. The Kenyan team was head over heels of excitement over having won the grand prize and thanks for the opportunity to continue to make a change for their community, making mental health services more accessible through technology. 

Congratulations to all of you! 

We’re looking forward and crossing fingers that the next COY 2022 will be held physically in Nigeria in December 2022!



Inspirational speeches

The lessons the young people are learning through this project will last for a lifetime. A former participant in COY, Godfrey Saruchera says, that “the Company experience is life-changing”. He is still an active entrepreneur, and now ventured into a new business and have employed several people. His advice to the new entrepreneurs today is to see this time as a learning curve and not expect to “take the future by storm” immediately, but apply yourself and make an effort to implement the advice from the professional judges and build your network, and then success is inevitable. 


“There’s no excuse for excellence” 

Quote by Lady Mariéme Jamme, founder of iamtheCODE which aims to enable 1 million young women and girls coders by 2030 and align with the UN2030 agenda and has been awarded as one of the top 100 most influential people in digital governance. Through technology and digital literacy training, we are tackling the current global STEAMD skills shortage in marginalised communities. 

Lady Mariéme Jamme speaks to the hopeful young entrepreneurs with a remark of resilience and innovation: “You are making history” and encourages them to seize the opportunities that come with now being part of something bigger than themselves in this global community of JA that has just been nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize. The world is in need of young people with ideas and energy, who knows who they are and how they can make a difference in society, and who can design and create solutions. 

The 52 industries in Africa is in need of entrepreneurs to move into a better future that aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and all of the innovations in this finale of the 11th season of COY has been strongly related to these goals, thereby bringing hope of a future of green entrepreneurs that can challenge the status quo and find solutions to our present and future problems. 

Lady Mariéme Jamme’s closing remark and recommendation are for the young people to “go out there and be yourself, but work hard! Master your solutions and don’t be comfortable as an entrepreneur, and focus on constantly improving and to strive even higher.”




YouTube streaming links

Opening Ceremony - February 24 at 1pm GMT:


Competition Day - February 25 at 1pm GMT:


Awards Ceremony - February 26 at 1pm GMT: 



Photo gallery (click to enlarge)