“My first year here (at ALA) has been full of challenges and growth opportunities.”
Young entrepreneur, John Ewotu from Uganda recently returned from Boston where he attended the Junior Achievement (JA) Centennial celebrations. He was afforded the opportunity to represent all the sub-Saharan Africa alumni who were positively impacted by JA and its programs over the years. “I had to give a speech about my JA experience and how it impacted my life,” says Ewotu.
Attending the JA celebration was never the plan for Ewotu but after an unexpected phone call he found himself taking a trip to Boston for an opportunity of a lifetime. “The CEO of JA Uganda reached out to me and let me know that I could qualify for this opportunity and that I should apply because he believed I could represent Uganda well. I therefore applied for it by making a short video and submitting it early December. It was only in February when I was representing ALA at the Georgetown Model United Nations Conference in Qatar that I received a follow up on my application notifying me that I had been nominated by JA Africa to represent all its alumni,” says Ewotu.
Prior to the JA Centennial, Ewotu started and ran a successful student enterprise, Wot Art, as the Managing Director in his home country of Uganda. They made jewellery and footwear from recycled car tyres and Ankara fabric. The enterprise, which started in 2015 did so well that it was awarded Company of the Year at the 2017 JA Uganda’s Company of the Year Competition. This opportunity enabled Wot Art to represent JA Uganda in the Africa Company of the Year Competition, hosted in Johannesburg.
It was on his trip to Johannesburg when Ewotu, along with his Wot Art team members, were given the opportunity to visit the ALA campus for the first time. “Visiting ALA was part of the plan for all participating JA students because of the partnership between ALA and JA Africa. We were given a comprehensive tour of ALA and participated in a mini BUILD session. I was really inspired by the environment and I had a sense of belonging. I told myself that this is where I am supposed to be, this is the place I can learn to make the most impact back home,” says Ewotu.
Ewotu’s relationship with JA has allowed him to meet greatly accomplished leaders such as Asheesh Advani, the CEO of JA worldwide, as well as Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO of Junior Achievement Africa. “Elizabeth Bintliff has played a great role in my growth to date. She has made herself a text away should I need some guidance and inspiration. I usually call her when I need some external advice and some tips from an experienced leader. She has inspired me to strive to achieve great things and become the person I want to be,” says Ewotu.
Studying at ALA has pushed Ewotu to work harder and has continued to strive high in his achievements. “My first year here has been full of challenges and growth opportunities. I have grown so much in 7 months that my family keep saying that I am totally a different person. At ALA, I am currently working as a Peer Coach with Africa Careers Network where I contribute to the fostering of professional growth in my peers. I also work with the Campus Jobs Program through which I am a Student Manager with employees I oversee. I am literally having a real work experience and hands on learning opportunities that I would never have easily got anywhere else,” adds Ewotu.
Unlocking your greatness is being able to take those unexpected opportunities that life throws at you and never being afraid to be ambitious about your goals. Persistence is the vehicle to success.
John is not the only student doing great things while studying at ALA, learn about second year ALA students and Zayed Sustainability Prize winners, Jesse Mwangi and Wuntia Gomda, who received up to US$100,000 in prize funds to enhance their water treatment solution called, “The Living Machine” which turns grey water into clean re-usable water.