Empowering Young People To Create Impact
JCI is the Junior Chamber International, a non-profit organisation with a remit to empower young people and bring about positive change by providing development opportunities. It is also sometimes known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce, or in the UK as the British Junior Chamber. It seeks to help young people aged 18 to 40 who are engaged and committed to creating impact in their communities. It aims to be the:
“Leading global network of young active citizens.”
JCI’s definition of active citizens is those that are invested in the future of the world. The organisation works to increase the skills, knowledge and understanding of these individuals to help them to make good, informed choices and to take action.
JCI has a strategic plan for 2014 to 2018 to aim to unite all areas of society to have a sustainable impact. It plans to do this through enabling communities to achieve sustainability, helping to develop an environment where people are motivated to deliver positive change, and creating a financial plan that is based on investing in long term goals. It will work to collaborate with other partners to increase the impact that can be achieved mutually. Finally it aims to connect people and their communities and the global society.
Understanding what this means at a practical level requires honing in on what young people can do to create change. JCI explains that people can get involved by setting up a charity event or a business visit, joining the local or national board, getting training in debating or public speaking, taking on a local, national or international role on the council or on a committee, organising a local project, working with a local company or undertaking another challenge. These types of activities help young people to develop organisational skills, management skills, communication skills, leadership skills, business skills and self confidence. In addition to the skills that can be gained, people get significant networking opportunities through being a part of the network. This can help them to develop business and career opportunities for themselves as well.
The organisation currently works in over 100 countries and considers itself to be a one of a kind volunteer network. Many of those that have been in the JCI have become renowned world leaders and some big names that were JCI members in the past include John F Kennedy, Al Gore and Bill Clinton. JCI is currently celebrating 100 years of impact.
In 1915 the organisation was founded by an active citizen who sought to bring about positive change. Since that time millions of others have become involved, looking for ways to impact their communities in a sustainable manner.
There are five main areas where young people can get involved. These are business, training, community, international and social. Leadership opportunities are available as international training fellows or in national leadership positions. It is also possible to get involved in international leadership or project management. This usually starts from local project involvement, followed by local project management which then develops into international projects and engagements and later evolves in to organisational leadership. Additionally all JCI members have the chance to speak up and suggest new ideas and projects to run, such as getting an inspiring speaker in, raising money for charity or setting up a networking event. Many start in a local chamber, then move to a national level and then put themselves forward for an international position.
Becoming a member of the JCI is, as the organisation states, “inexpensive”. The rewards are considerable. One of the most appealing might be to “get a great dose of positive energy”, and there are times when most people can benefit from that. JCI members have a chance to really make a difference and give something back to their communities. At the same time they get to learn new skills, get business training, discover new talents and passions and bring new meaning into their lives, if they so wish.
Membership of the organisation provides members with the opportunity to attend seminars put on by prominent speakers, travel, go to conferences and social events, and ultimately to build self confidence. These are all compelling reasons, but simply the broadening of the horizons and getting the chance to meet new and inspiring people both nationally and internationally is appealing to many too.
If you would like to know more about this interesting organization, join them on twitter, Facebook or visit their website.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.