Jay Ireland, CEO/ President of GE Africa was one of two to receive a Princeton in Africa award at the program’s annual gala awards which was held yesterday in New York. Founded in 1999, Princeton in Africa develops young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering year-long fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent.
Since the program’s launch in 1999, they have had 545 Fellows in 36 countries. This year, 48 recent college graduates (from 31 colleges and universities) are working with 31 organizations in 13 African countries.
Speaking at the event, Jay Ireland said “GE is committed to investing and expanding its business in Africa. Despite the recent economic challenges, we firmly believe in a bright future for the continent and see ourselves as partners in Africa’s sustainable development”.
Ireland’s journey started six years ago, when he relocated to Nairobi, Kenya to lead GE’s efforts in Africa. GE had been on the continent for over 100 years. However, the company wanted to get a broader GE focus on the infrastructure issues and subsequent opportunities in developing markets. So, in 2011, the company set up an African headquarters in Kenya and started adding people across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, GE’s footprint consists of over 3200 employees, revenues of about $3.9 billion dollars (2016) and operations in 33 countries across Africa.
GE Africa’s corporate social responsibility platform, Kujenga, launched in 2014 aims to empower people by building valuable skills, equip communities with new tools and technology and elevate innovative ideas that are helping solve Africa’s challenges. One of the company’s Kujenga initiatives, the GE Lagos Garage advanced manufacturing skills program, has enabled over 100 prototypes to be developed at the hub and over 20 innovative ideas transformed into actual business models in Nigeria.
Princeton in Africa matches talented and passionate college graduates with organizations working across Africa for year-long service placements. The program is open to graduating seniors and young alumni from any college or university accredited in the U.S. The program’s Fellows have helped improve education and public health, source fresh water and alternative energy, increase family incomes, and so much more.