Simi Nwogugu
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Simi Nwogugu

Simi Nwogugu
President & CEO , JA Africa

As CEO of Africa’s largest youth economic empowerment non-profit organization, and winner of this year’s Africa Education Medal, Simi Nwogugu is an expert on several issues affecting youth in Africa, particularly education, entrepreneurship, digital skills, financial literacy and inclusion, gender issues and climate change. She is an advocate for youth in Africa, believes in their boundless potential to create the solutions required for a successful and sustainable Africa and passionate about exploring innovative ways to equip them to do so.


Simi Nwogugu is CEO of JA Africa, part of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated JA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest youth-serving NGOs that prepares young people for the future of work. She was first introduced to JA while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Impressed by the organisation, she quit her lucrative job at age 24 to bring JA to Nigeria, where it now empowers more than 100,000 young people annually, before going on to head up JA’s operations across the continent.



For 25 years, Nwogugu has been leading JA’s efforts in various capacities as it embarked on a mission to reduce youth unemployment and high poverty levels by helping young people to generate and effectively manage wealth, create jobs for their communities, as well as apply entrepreneurial thinking to solve sustainability issues within their communities. Her passion for strategy and innovation led to the development of many impactful programmes that are ensuring young Nigerians have the skillset and mindset to succeed.



She is a passionate advocate for girls’ education and one of her unique initiatives includes the Leadership, Empowerment Achievement & Development (LEAD) Camp for Girls, which has inspired and empowered over 2,000 young girls in Nigeria to become high-achieving women leaders globally. Another initiative she has championed is the Venture in Management Programme (ViMP), which is designed to empower young people in the different facets of managing a business, making crucial business decisions and developing skills for general management and social responsibility. Graduates of the program have gone on to become founders of Nigeria’s leading businesses as well as leaders of the most impactful non-profit organisations on the continent. She also built digital and out-of-school youth programmes that enabled her organisation to reach underserved populations in the North of Nigeria, even during the Boko Haram crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.



A dedicated climate change advocate, she has integrated sustainability and climate education into the programs and initiatives of JA Africa. Under her leadership, JA Africa secured a partnership with the UN Environment Program to deliver the Plastic Tide Turners Challenge to empower and activate thousands of young people to become climate change champions in their communities. Simi firmly believes that addressing climate change is crucial for Africa’s future and is committed to equipping young people with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle this global challenge.



With an MBA from Harvard, Nwogugu has been recognized by the school with numerous awards including the Bert King Award for Social Impact presented by the Harvard Business School African-American Alumni Association. She was also recently declared winner of the prestigious Africa Education Medal 2023 by T4 Education, HP and Microsoft, and selected as one of Africa’s Top 100 most influential women by Avance Media.



Simi is currently a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Africa Leadership Initiative for West Africa (ALIWA) where she is pursuing her passion to empower and equip 10 million African girls to build thriving sustainable communities by 2050.


Simi is named among the 2023 List of 100 Most Influential African Women by Avance Media.

Photo Credit: Tropics Magazine