01 Jun 2018
288
288 views


3-Minute Briefing: Simi Nwogugu (MBA 2004)

Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN)
by Julia Hanna

Topics:
ShareBar

Nwogugu with students at Aunty Ayo Girls Comprehensive School in Lagos
(photo by Ruth McDowall/The Verbatim Agency)

Nwogugu with students at Aunty Ayo Girls Comprehensive School in Lagos
(photo by Ruth McDowall/The Verbatim Agency)

I volunteered at Junior Achievement (JA) in New York when I was working at Goldman Sachs after college. I realized that if I’d had access in Nigeria to what JA teaches—strategy, problem solving, and innovative thinking—I would have known much earlier that business was what I loved.

During a business trip to England, I hopped on a plane to Lagos to see about bringing JA to Nigeria. I hadn’t been back since high school, and during that time a dictator had been running the government. When I visited my old high school, it was a ghost of its former self. I cried.

I couldn’t honestly go back to my cushy job at Goldman and say, “OK I’ve introduced JA to Nigeria.” I had to come back to run JAN for it to have the impact I wanted.

After three years, I returned to the United States to marry my boyfriend and attend HBS. I moved back to Nigeria with my husband and two young sons in 2009 and joined the board of JAN with the goal to empower 1 million youth by 2020. In 2016, the other board members said, “You have this big vision. Why don’t you run JA Nigeria again?”

We are now reaching more than 120,000 students annually and are undertaking an expansion of economic empowerment programs into northeastern Nigeria, which has been ravaged by Boko Haram.

The belief in the north is that girls shouldn’t go to school and should be married at a young age. Our hope is to empower them and their mothers to be more economically independent and to have a voice.

We sometimes have to bring the infrastructure with us when we go to the schools. You can’t just arrive with your JA bag, then plug and play. Sometimes we have to bring diesel for the generator, if there is a generator.

Over 50 percent of our population right now is under the age of 30. If these young people are given the opportunities to channel their energy and creativity properly, I believe Nigeria will become a world leader within the next two decades.

ShareBar
Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2004, Section A

Post a Comment