JCI RISE: President Itai Manyere Outlines JCI’s New Initiative to Sustain and Rebuild Economies in the Wake of COVID-19

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JCI has launched a new initiative to sustain and rebuild economies and strengthen workforce morale as we face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic together. This initiative, JCI RISE, stands for Rebuild, Invest, Sustain, Evolve. It calls upon enterprising young leaders across the world to work together to make economies and workforces more resilient.

JCI President Itai Manyere outlines the purpose of this new initiative and why it’s so important for young people to actively shape the future of business and entrepreneurship.

In addition to the tremendous impact on physical and mental health we’ve seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, our economies have struggled as well. How will RISE help us overcome this challenge?

President Itai Manyere: As an international leadership organization with thousands of members across the world, JCI is uniquely capable of creating impactful change on a global scale. Through targeted, effective leadership, RISE has the ability to reach people and businesses across borders.

We have three main goals with this new initiative:

  1. Sustaining and rebuilding businesses and economies
  2. Engaging and empowering our workforce
  3. Acknowledging, understanding and finding solutions to the mental health impacts COVID-19 has had on the global population

By focusing our efforts on these three areas, we can reimagine the way our businesses and communities work. We have the unique opportunity to look at our traditional ways of doing things and find new paths that will make the world a better place for all people.

Why is RISE important right now?

President Itai Manyere: Our communities give us so much, and it is time we started taking care of them. Many small businesses have seen a significant drop in revenue. These businesses are not only the center of our local economies, they are the center of our neighbors’ livelihoods and the heart and soul of communities. JCI leaders must guide and empower small businesses to rethink and adapt their business models, so that they can thrive. We must also focus on ensuring ethical and sustainable business practices for future generations.

Of course, we would be missing a key part of COVID-19’s impact if we didn’t address the human side of this problem. Many people, especially young and vulnerable populations, have lost their jobs or will lose their jobs. This global pandemic has brought forth complicated emotions like fear, anxiety, helplessness and grief, which are all amplified by isolation. To counter this, JCI members and partners must discover how to engage the workforce and encourage entrepreneurship, showing that working for somebody else is not a fatality for young people. We must destigmatize talking about mental health and promote awareness and strategies to address this in our own communities.

Only by considering our full humanity – the economic toll, as well as the emotional toll of this global pandemic – can we create solutions that will help all people.

How can people get involved with this initiative?

President Itai Manyere: Together we are stronger, and we can achieve more with the help of partners and friends than we can working alone. This pressing challenge is a global problem, and a global problem requires a global response. JCI encourages collaboration between businesses, government institutions and other organizations, so that we can come together and solve this problem.

JCI members have already been working at the local and national levels to create projects that help their local economies – JCI Switzerland’s Think Global, Buy Local campaign, for example. To members:  keep doing what you are doing. Your efforts when combined create a greater impact than you know. But also encourage other community stakeholders, like business owners and government officials, to join you. Local action helps to create global impact and all together, we as JCI members are more than just the sum of our parts! 

You can find resources for this initiative in the JCI Library and on our Trello board. More resources will be added as RISE progresses, and you may submit requests if there is anything specific you would like to see added.

How is RISE different from a traditional JCI campaign?

President Itai Manyere: Our typical campaigns unite JCI through a shared global purpose. While we still have this shared purpose through RISE, it is necessary for us to be very deliberate and specialized in our approach. For us to be successful and truly impact economies on a larger scale, we must create change on a local and national level.

JCI members understand the needs of their communities best, and they know the types of programs and projects that will have the most impact. We expect all JCI members to rise to this challenge and take the lead on this new initiative.

After every darkness, there is a dawn. I am excited to see how JCI members will use their creativity and compassion to lead us to places we have never been before and to enhance our economic impact on communities.