To commemorate our 100th year in 2019, we've launched 100 Lives: profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.
Italo Erazo | El Salvador
Sixteen-year-old Italo Erazo, who lives in the town of Armenia in the Sonsonate department of El Salvador, first participated in an Empresarios Juveniles El Salvador (JA El Salvador) program at ten years old. In addition to gaining financial know-how, learning work skills, and seeing examples of viable career opportunities—including what it takes to run a successful business of his own—Italo saw, for the first time, an alternative to gang life in his community, where he lives with his father and grandparents.
Thanks to his JA experience, Italo wants to create his own company and generate employment for young people in his community. His current plan? To study computer-systems technology, and then open a cyber café. He's determined to cobble together the money to continue his education, start a business, offer additional career options to El Salvadoran youth, and help stop the cycle of violence in his community.
Diana Martínez Mancilla | MexdeSolar | México
As a student working with JA Bajío in San Juan del Río, Querétaro, México, Diana Martínez Mancilla saw a business opportunity: healthy snacks made from locally abundant foods. She started experimenting with drying fruits—mangos, papayas, pineapples, grapes, bananas—with a solar-powered dehydrator. Soon, she earned an Instituto Nacional de Economía Social grant to build a full-scale dehydrating facility and located it behind her home. Now, this JA alumna and her company, MexdeSolar, are on their way to producing healthy, locally produced snacks and improving the local economy.
Abby, Zoe, and Zachary Smith | Jamaica | Pizzaz Party Planning