People and planet before profits were celebrated on Thursday night, 9 September 2021, when ten CEOs were recognised for their efforts at the Conscious Companies Award 2021 ceremony. A range of small companies and NPOs up against the “Goliaths” giant brands like AECI, Standard Bank and the winner, Nestlé ESAR. Of necessity a small (but sparkling) COVID compliant ceremony was held at the Venue in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. A real time live-streamed prize-giving meant that interns, staffers and friends could participate virtually. When JumpCO CEO, Steve Mahony, received the first runners up trophy from Brenda Kali (Conscious Companies CEO) and Hoosain Karjieker (Mail & Guardian CEO), whoops of joy sounded around the country.
Deepening the conversation
Brenda Kali, CEO of Conscious Companies, said the aim of the Awards was to recognise visionary leaders who create leadership capacity and steer their companies to prosper while placing a premium on people, community, culture and the environment. “The ethos of Conscious Companies is to ignite a socio-economic and political environment with an authentic expression of ethics and consciousness. Through various platforms and initiatives, Conscious Companies provides an opportunity for leadership to shape thinking, behaviour, purpose and responsibility by deepening the conversations and actions of those in power to influence, guide and address societal imbalances, maintain transparency and understand the impact of conscious, ethical leadership on humanity,” she said.
About Steve Mahony
Stephen Mahony is a social entrepreneur who has built up the JumpCO group and JumpStart over the past twenty years. The group collectively employs 140 people with the vast majority being black South Africans, a significant portion being youth and women. As CEO, his personal ethos of helping individuals to excel informs his deep commitment to giving disadvantaged South Africans meaningful opportunities in the mainstream economy.
A passion for education
JumpCO has furthered its youth development as a founding sponsor of an initiative in basic education to improve primary school learner outcomes in mathematics, robotics and coding. JumpStart has grown from a small pilot in 2010 to an internationally equivalent NPO with donors of the likes of The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Sasol and other local funders. JumpStart’s work has gained national recognition through awards from the likes of MTN, Standard bank and Nedbank Private Wealth.
JumpStart marks the culmination of Stephen’s lifelong dream of supporting young black South Africans to excel at maths and science. With early interventions focusing on high school learners, it was quickly realised that the roots of our country’s poor maths and science performance lay in weak foundation phase learning. Simply put: if children are not numerically competent by the time they finish Grade 3, further engagement with maths and science is severely limited and they stand little chance of participating in our country’s digital economy and 4IR ambitions.
JumpStart currently supports 50 schools and touches more than 25 000 learners and 500 teachers. JumpStart also recruits unemployed youth from school communities and employs them as maths and data teacher assistants. They receive practical work experience, soft skills training, personal coaching and access to StudyAssist support, enabling them to complete tertiary qualifications. Each year, an increasing percentage of JumpStart teacher assistants go on to qualify as the next generation of maths and science teachers, helping to fill the supply side gaps in maths and science teaching and addressing our country’s 57% youth unemployment rate.
We are stronger together
A golden thread running through all JumpCO’s enterprises is a commitment to providing staff with a voice and a real stake in the JumpCO organisation and its vision. The culture of social entrepreneurship under JumpCO has assembled young talent who are passionate about what they do. With ongoing support the are empowered to help their own communities in turn. The lockdown effects of COVID-19 affected all entities in the JumpCO group. Technical innovation, experimentation and agile thinking ensured that the group emerged in 2021 with renewed energy. Additionally, commitment deepened to “build back better” in a post-COVID South Africa.
A message to staff
Steve leads this group under the “#ThinkingForward” slogan, a play on “Pay it forward”. Given his qualifications and extensive background in banking and software engineering, he could have taken a very different path. He chose instead to build a socially responsible and conscious group of social enterprises based on an ethos of service. Steve is driven by a personal desire to see children, unemployed youth, and staff develop their full potential. He longs to see people become the best they can be. He shared his gratitude to the tutors working in under-resourced classrooms in a WhatsApp message:
Thank you for all the well wishes! And for being part of this story. This is a salute to all the work that you do. I only wish you could have been there with me on Thursday. There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest resource our country has is our youth, is you!
Just know that every time we walk into a classroom we are building the next generation of leaders for this country. What we do, and who we are, matters. We are the difference, and it shows. Thank you for all you do. I am proud to be part of this team ✊.
I truly hope you are able to take a moment to reflect on who you are to all those around you, and see with new eyes the magic that you create wherever you go.
Thank you. 🙏