Groundbreaking efforts of Simi Nwogugu acknowledged as finalist for Africa Education Medal
Simi Nwogugu, the CEO of JA Africa, has been recognized as one of the Top 10 finalists for the prestigious Africa Education Medal 2023. This esteemed accolade, founded by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Microsoft, celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to transforming education across the African continent.
The Africa Education Medal aims to acknowledge the tireless efforts of individuals who have ignited positive change in education, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. It is awarded to an exceptional individual who has demonstrated remarkable impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.
Nwogugu serves as the CEO of JA Africa, a part of JA Worldwide, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated organization and one of the world’s largest youth-serving NGOs. She was first introduced to JA while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Impressed by the organization’s mission, she made the bold decision to quit her lucrative job at the age of 24 and bring JA to Nigeria. Under her leadership, JA Africa now reaches over 100,000 young people annually and has expanded its operations across the continent.
Nwogugu’s work is of utmost importance, considering that 60% of the sub-Saharan African population and approximately 37% of its workforce are under the age of 25. By 2025, Africa is projected to be home to 25% of the global youth population. JA Africa empowers young people through hands-on, blended learning programs in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. The organization equips young individuals with the skills and mindset needed to succeed, enabling them to generate and effectively manage wealth, create jobs, and secure better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Throughout her 25 years of leading JA’s efforts, Nwogugu has been instrumental in developing impactful programs that ensure young Nigerians possess the necessary skillsets and mindset for success. She is a strong advocate for girls’ education and has spearheaded initiatives such as the Leadership, Empowerment Achievement & Development (LEAD) Camp for Girls, which has inspired over 1,200 young girls to become high-achieving women leaders in society. Another notable initiative she championed is the Venture in Management Programme (ViMP), which empowers young people in various aspects of business management and decision-making.
Nwogugu’s contributions extend beyond Nigeria, as she has built digital and out-of-school youth programs that reached underserved populations, even during challenging times such as the Boko Haram crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before assuming her role as CEO of JA Africa in 2020, Nwogugu led JA Nigeria, impacting over 1 million Nigerians in 5,000 schools. Notable JA alumni, such as Iyin Aboyeji, the founder of Andela and Flutterwave, have gone on to become job creators and social entrepreneurs.
In addition to her role at JA Africa, Nwogugu serves as the President of the governing board of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Nigeria (HBSAN). She has received numerous awards from Harvard Business School, including the Bert King Award for Social Impact presented by the Harvard Business School African-American Alumni Association. Nwogugu is currently a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Africa Leadership Initiative for West Africa (ALIWA), where she pursues her passion to empower and equip 10 million African girls to build thriving communities by 2050.
Mayank Dhingra, Senior Education Business Leader at HP, congratulated Nwogugu on being named a Top 10 finalist for the Africa Education Medal 2023. Dhingra praised Nwogugu’s tireless work in improving education, emphasizing that her dedication serves as an inspiration to others and encourages more individuals to become leaders in the field. HP, with a goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people globally by 2030, recognizes the importance of collaboration with NGOs, governments, educators, and businesses to enhance the education environment. The Africa Education Medal brings together these change-makers who are making a profound impact on African education.
Vikas Pota, Founder and CEO of T4 Education, expressed his congratulations to Nwogugu for her achievements in empowering Africa’s youth. Pota highlighted the pivotal role played by teachers, school leaders, and leaders from various sectors in unlocking Africa’s educational potential. He commended Nwogugu’s success as an inspiration for other change-makers to step forward and make a difference.
The winner of the Africa Education Medal will be announced in July. The finalists, including Nwogugu, will be assessed by a Jury comprising prominent individuals based on rigorous criteria..
The other Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal are Mary Ashun (Principal of Ghana International School, Ghana), Laura Kakon (Chief Growth & Strategy Officer of Honoris United Universities, Morocco), Rogers Kamugisha (Country Director of Educate!, Rwanda), Grace Matlhape (CEO of SmartStart, South Africa), Mary Metcalfe (former policymaker and CEO of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes, South Africa), Martha Muhwezi (Executive Director of FAWE, Uganda), Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura (Executive Director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda), Sara Ruto (Former Chief Administrative Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Education and former CEO of PAL Network, Kenya), and Snehar Shah (CEO of Moringa School, Kenya).
Nominations for the Africa Education Medal opened in February 2023 for individuals working to improve pre-kindergarten, K-12, vocational and university education who are either educators, school administrators, civil society leaders, public servants, government officials, political leaders, technologists, or innovators.
The Africa Education Medal stands as a testament to the remarkable efforts being made to revolutionize education across the African continent. It is through the collaboration and dedication of leaders like Nwogugu that lasting change can be achieved, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.