boy and woman sitting in a classroom

Pillar spotlights




Photo: Delivering a session to a primary school class
Credit: Isle Listen

Empowering Youth through Education, Entrepreneurship, and Employability Opportunities​

4 people smiling to the camara

9 programs approved across 20 countries in 2023

Africa – empowering young people with resources and skills to drive social change and create economic opportunities

2023 was the kick-off year for our Social Equity program: we launched initiatives in Côte d'Ivoire, South Africa, and Uganda. In 2024 we will expand to four new countries and continue to support JA Africa in building capacity. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30. Youth unemployment continues to be a critical issue across the continent, with the average young person taking up to six years to secure their first employment. This has a devastating impact.

The Social Equity Program, a collaboration between JA Worldwide, JA Africa, and Z Zurich Foundation, addresses the challenges faced by youth who are not in education, employment, or training, while promoting social equity and sustainable development.

By focusing on entrepreneurship training, we are empowering young people to start businesses and acquire the skills needed for the workforce. In its first year, the program achieved incredible milestones, including organizing 135 bootcamps, reaching 17,000+ youth, and facilitating the creation of 456 social projects.

In 2023, the Social equity program also engaged 178 volunteers, including both Zurich and non-Zurich participants, who underwent comprehensive training to fulfil their roles as mentors and facilitators.

A significant achievement is that the program established partnerships with over 100 local entities, including governments, educational institutions, NGOs, and other stakeholders. These collaborations have been crucial in expanding the program's reach and making a tangible impact in the communities served.

Photo caption: CEO of the Unifest Recycling Company, formed during the JA Africa Social Equity Program, with her team at the Uganda National end of program Pitch Contest. 
Photo Credit: Junior Achievement Africa


As we reflect on the progress made in 2023, we are proud to see how our joint efforts with committed organizations across the globe have equipped young people with the necessary tools and opportunities to reach their full potential and thrive in today's world. The ability to empower and enable new generations to succeed is at the heart of our mission, and we remain committed to driving positive change and enabling social equity.

Adriana Poglia

Head of Enabling Social Equity, Z Zurich Foundation ​

students in classroom smiling

JA Worldwide global collaboration: Empowering youth to scale global impact for thriving communities

According to the International Labor Organization, the number of young people globally who are not in employment, education, or training (NEET) has reached its highest level in over 15 years. If we are to effectively address youth unemployment, we need a comprehensive approach – one that considers the unique challenges faced by different groups and regions.

For many years, we have collaborated with JA (Junior Achievement) Worldwide in a dozen countries across the globe. Each year, JA reaches more than 17 million young people through over 675,000 teachers and business volunteers. In 2023, we decided to strengthen our collaboration under a global umbrella alongside JA Worldwide, while maintaining our focus on local needs.

The collaboration is specifically designed to meet key agreed objectives. Firstly, to empower youth by enabling them to unlock their full potential. Secondly, to expand JA’s reach to new geographies, thereby increasing its overall impact. This global approach also aims to promote shared learning across the JA network, to foster greater collaboration and improve efficiency, for example by standardizing reporting and impact measurement practices across the network.

These meaningful efficiency measures mean other organizations, such as Zurich’s local business units, can more readily join and mutualize resources. Together we are scaling up work-readiness opportunities for young people worldwide.

Photo Credit: Junior Achievement Africa


The partnership with ZZF has significantly increased our capacity to reach thousands more youth in many more countries across Africa. In year one, we reached over 17,000 youth who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) across Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, and South Africa, and helped them create a pathway to employment and entrepreneurship. In year two, we are expanding to four new countries (Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Togo), with an enhanced curriculum developed in partnership with professors who teach entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School.

Simi Nwogugu

CEO of JA Africa and member of the JA Worldwide Senior Leadership Team​

smiling man talking into a microphone

Odyek’s story

Odyek is from Lira, Uganda. At just 17, school fees became unaffordable for his parents. He had no choice but to leave school to support himself and his family. While looking for work, Odyek learned brickmaking. “From there I got the opportunity to attend a bootcamp by JA Africa. We were taught how to identify a problem and get good solutions,” he says.

Bootcamps, part of our Social Equity program with JA Africa and JA Worldwide, teach critical social, financial and professional skills. This helps young people find employment or become entrepreneurs.

“We decided on one innovation,” adds Odyek. “Poor disposal of plastic and land degradation was the greatest problem in our community. It was contributing to climate change as brickmakers always cut down trees to bond their bricks.”

Odyek and his team, with support from the Social Equity Program, started a company, Bed Mot. Their brilliant solution: making bricks and pavers from poorly disposed plastic in the community.

Now at 18, Odyek is an entrepreneur tackling several issues at once: providing cost-effective building materials, reusing plastic waste and reducing the felling of trees.

He is one of more than 10,000 young people who attended training programs that are helping them to build careers, improve their communities and turn innovative solutions into reality.

Find out more here.

Photo caption: Odyek Haron, leader of Uganda’s winning Social Equity Program team, BedMot, sharing his story of success at an event. 
Photo credit : Junior Achievement Africa


Spotlights from Latin America​

Ensuring young people are equipped for the jobs of the future

Latin American youth face high unemployment rates and difficulties in finding stable, quality jobs. This problem is worsened by the gap between demand and supply for skilled roles, as well as technological changes. However, vocational training can bridge the gap in digital skills and enhance their employability. Together with the Forge Foundation, we are working to address persistent barriers to education to enable disadvantaged Latin American youth to achieve their dreams.

Through innovative technology, this program is available and accessible to low-income youth. The program includes:

  • A digital soft skills program
  • A virtual community for teachers
  • Digital tools such as skills-evaluationvideo games
  • Technology bootcamps

Since 2020, together with Forge Foundation and hundreds of Zurich employee volunteers, we have made a positive impact for more than 30,000 young people and 4,000 teachers.

In 2023, we renewed our collaboration with Forge for another three years. Our shared aim: to grow the organization into one of the most important references for education and employment of vulnerable youth in Latin America, within 10 years. We believe this collaboration can help scale and expand the foundation’s activities, to reach over 1 million young people and 20,000 teachers in six countries across Latin America.

Transforming the future of tourism with sustainable social-impact business ventures

Tourism supports millions of jobs worldwide, especially for women and young people. The Transforming the Future (TTF) project aims to generate jobs and sustainable business ventures for communities whose economies depend on tourism. We have implemented the program together with Fundación Plan 21 and Universal Assistance in 5 countries in Latin America, and the TTF team is currently working on tourism projects with community groups in Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico.

These communities are receiving training to improve their products and services. We are also working with the entire tourism ecosystem to implement best practices that can be certified as sustainable tourism, including companies and destinations. . Each community group will also serve as a model for future community tourism ventures.

The initiatives include:

  • Promoting weaving enterprises for women in vulnerable situations
  • Strengthening sustainable family livelihoods in local and ancestral communities.
  • Recovering cultural heritage of Afro-descendant communities and involving them in offering tourist products through arts and crafts.
  • Providing indigenous communities with training in tourism customer service
  • Promoting the Coffee producers in good farming practices

For example, Lidio, a father of eight, is a charismatic and natural storyteller. He is sharing his culture with tourists through a popular game that he created, helping to generate more stable income for his community.

Adriana, a mother of four, discovered her passion for cooking five years ago after a severe health crisis. Her small local-food venture has had a transformative impact – spreading traditions through delicious flavors and helping her establish her own business.

By working alongside individuals and communities, we are taking a comprehensive approach and implementing socially impactful projects that revolutionize the concept of building sustainable destinations.

Forge is the opportunity to discover what you want to do with your life and how to do it. It supports and guides you to a get a job that will impact all aspects of your life. During training you discover things about yourself. It’s quite an experience and helps you grow, it’s family and friends. It’s the best experience I’ve ever had!


Forge Graduate, Mexico​

New grants


Advancing vocational training for adults with special needs

Together with APSN* and Zurich Singapore**

Grant duration: 2 years

Impact ambition: 800


At the heart of this new grant is APSN, a social service agency that provides special education, vocational training and employment support services for individuals with mild intellectual disability. APSN Centre for Adults empowers their trainees through best practices in vocational training, realistic on-the-job training and support services until they are ready for the workforce. Through this grant, Zurich Singapore will help provide skills, resources, and advocacy to support and expand APSN’s vocational training programmes, benefitting individuals with higher support needs and making a positive impact on their families. 


Creating employment opportunities for young people excluded from the traditional school system

Together with El Lindar*** and Zurich Sabadell Spain****

Grant duration: 3 years

Impact ambition: 20,000 people

This grant aims to increase employability for young people in vulnerable circumstances. El Llindar is a second-chance school, providing guidance and support to teenagers and young people through personalized and real-life job training programs. The diverse learning experiences help to guarantee that participants can build their own paths and develop their basic, technical and transversal competencies to help them grow personally and professionally. The Digital Manufacturing program accompanies students for three years from ‘school dropout’ to a job placement in the industry.


In addition, we have renewed our support to:

  • United Way Greater Toronto in Canada
  • The Ombuds Office for Children's Rights in Switzerland

*APSN Ltd. – Centre for Adults. **Zurich Insurance Company Ltd (Singapore Branch). ***Fundació privada El Llindar.****BanSabadell Vida, SA de Seguros y Reaseguros.