Thank you, Junior Achievement!

University student credits NGO for her success

Sunday, June 03, 2018

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Sineal Smith is a second-year student in the Faculty of Law at The University of the West Indies, Mona, and holds the position of general secretary of the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students. She was previously treasurer of the National Secondary Students' Council and is a former head girl of St Jago High School.

But for the 21-year-old, participation in Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ) is perhaps her most rewarding extra-curricular involvement to date.

Speaking at the JAJ's annual awards banquet at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday, Smith credited JAJ with teaching her how to be financially literate, helping her develop the confidence to make presentations in formal settings, and providing a platform to leadership.

“I obtained my very first summer job through JAJ,” she told the principals, teachers, sponsors and JAJ team members. “I should have been nervous and uncertain, but I was confident. I felt ready and excited to exercise what I had learned through the JACE programme.”

JACE is the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs programme, executed by JAJ. It provides entrepreneurial instruction, financial literacy and workforce readiness skills, as well as six months of practical experience in the fundamentals of business operations, with support from private sector volunteers.

Through the JACE programme, Smith became president of the Young Entrepreneurs Passion for Production (YEPP) T-shirt design company, established by the St Jago students in 2013-14. With marketing guidance and technical support from JN Fund Managers — a member company of what became The Jamaica National Group, which assisted her school in the programme — Smith's team at YEPP produced personalised T-shirts based on customer requests, and negotiated with different personalities to achieve their end goal.

The former St Jago High School head girl explained that, apart from reviving her savings habit, the exposure helped her as a candidate in the 2013 National Secondary Students' Council's elections for the post of treasurer.

“I won and I credit Junior Achievement Jamaica, because it was my display of financial confidence which allowed me to stand out,” she said.

That experience gained at St Jago High, backed up by advice from a mentor, gave her the confidence to take on the challenge of studying law.

“Now at the age of 21, I will be very honest in saying that, the JAJ, through these programmes, rescued me from a cycle of money mismanagement,” she stated. “Investments piqued my interest, because I liked that idea of making money work for me, as opposed to me working for it.”

One financial move she made recently was to start an account with JN Bank, which she said was to show her appreciation for the role the institution previously played in her life.

“I became very loyal to JN Bank because they sponsored the programmes I participated in at St Jago. That opportunity created my first meaningful interaction with the JN family.”

Referencing the tagline of the country's national development goal — The place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business — Smith said, “The JAJ, in my eyes, has been the leader in mobilising a key populace, youth, by ensuring that we gain the skills to engage in owning our own economic success, and help to boost the economic success of Jamaica”.

JAJ is part of Junior Achievement worldwide, one of the world's largest youth-serving NGOs.

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