The Fiesta Royale Hotel buzzed with excitement as Adonten Senior High School emerged as the overall winner of the 2023 National Business Pitch Competition at an Awards and Dinner Gala organized by Junior Achievement (JA) Ghana. Their groundbreaking startup, PELB Company, secured the prestigious title with its innovative solution: portable electronic lunch bags capable of heating or warming cold food.
Orielly Senior High School from Accra and St. Francis Girls Senior High School from Jirapa (Upper West Region) claimed the first and second runner-up positions, respectively. Orielly impressed the judges with their ZestyBlends tea company, renowned for crafting lemongrass-based teas. St. Francis Girls made their mark with B&B Plastics Company Limited, a venture dedicated to recycling plastic waste into moulded blocks, beads and other products to combat plastic pollution in the country.
The National Business Pitch Competition, JA Ghana’s version of the renowned international JA Company of the Year competitions, empowers students to collaborate with business-savvy volunteers, guided by their teachers, to launch businesses that provide innovative products and services addressing community needs or challenges. Student teams progress through local, national, and multinational levels, showcasing their products and services at trade fairs and presenting their businesses on stage before esteemed judges.
During the event, Hon. Rev John Ntim Fordjour, Deputy Minister for Education, emphasized the pivotal role of entrepreneurship education in addressing Ghana’s growing youth unemployment challenge. He lauded JA Ghana’s mission to bridge this gap and expressed his inspiration at the innovations presented by these high school entrepreneurs. He looked forward to a future where young Ghanaians would establish businesses and industries tackling pressing community issues and generating employment opportunities.
The event featured distinguished guests, including UN Resident Coordinator Charles Abani, Deputy CEO of the National Youth Authority Hon. Akosua Manu, JA Ghana Board Members, and senior executives and business leaders from diverse sectors, such as banking, aviation, hospitality, oil and gas, agribusiness, and youth policy. Notably, Her Excellency Samira Bawumia, the 2nd lady of Ghana, was recognized as a JA Ghana Alumni. Prudential Life Insurance Ghana was acknowledged as a cornerstone funder of JA Ghana. Guests were also treated to an electrifying performance by the award-winning Afropop singer-songwriter Adina.
Since the start of the year, students from 40 high schools have established and managed businesses through the JA Company Program designed for high school students. Fifteen schools earned the honour of competing in the National Competition. In addition to the winning schools, participating institutions included Aburi Girls SHS, Archbishop Porter Girls SHS, Bolgatanga SHS, Ghana SHS – Koforidua, Keta SHS, Legacy Girls College, Northern School of Business, Tamale, Presbyterian Boys Secondary – Legon, Presbyterian Senior Tech. School – Adukrom, St. Thomas Aquinas SHS, Tarkwa SHS and Tema International School. The competition encompassed four stages: Company Reports, Stage Pitches, Trade Booth and Board Room sessions, culminating in an exhilarating Awards ceremony.
Headline sponsors of the competition recognized student companies with exceptional qualities with special awards. Orielly Secondary School received the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) Project Management Award, Tarkwa Senior High School earned the Tomorrow Foundation Future Tech-Innovation Award and Aburi Girls Senior High School secured the Boeing Public Choice Award for their promotional video, which garnered the highest number of votes on YouTube. Other sponsor awards included The Gold Fields Entrepreneurial Spirit Award (Keta Senior High), the Academic City Excellence in Teamwork Award (O’Reilly Senior High School) and the Databank Foundation Social Impact Award (St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School).
Abeiku Greene, Executive Director at JA Ghana, commended the students for their dedication and ingenuity. He recognized them as architects of the future, visionaries, disruptors and pioneers with the power to reshape Ghana’s economy and society. He reiterated JA Ghana’s mission to empower Ghanaian youth, enabling them to nurture entrepreneurial ideas, refine their skills and manage their earnings to secure better lives for themselves, their families and their communities. He appealed to Corporate Ghana to support the competition and play a crucial role in Ghana’s most influential youth skill development movement.
In addition to claiming the prestigious title of Company of the Year 2023 at the National Business Pitch Competition, Adonten Senior High School received a cash prize of GHS 15,000.00, valuable in-kind donations, including a Turf air-conditioner and the opportunity to represent Ghana at the JA Company of the Year Africa regional competition in Kigali, Rwanda, in December 2023. Success there could lead to the global Company of the Year competition with other continents and a chance to win JA Worldwide’s De La Vega Global Entrepreneurship Award, offering US $15,000, educational opportunities and more.