JCI European Academy, The history

A vision scribbled down on a napkin

The JCI European Academy is a result of a strong vision to unite Europe in a time of tension between East and West. It was in the beginning of the 1990’s and the eastern countries were liberating themselves from the Soviet Union.

It all started at the banquet of the JCI World Congress in Kobe, Japan (1994), when the National President of JCI Sweden (Kenneth Andreasson) and the incoming National President (Stefan Thorberg) enjoyed their dinner. All the notes and thoughts where scribbled down on a napkin. They had been working together in JCI for some time and had also attended the leadership academy, Japan Academy (for leaders at a national level), and were inspired to support and strengthen cooperation between countries, stimulate growth in JCI local organizations (new and old) and inspire future local leaders in Europe. What could be done in Japan for incoming national leaders could be done for incoming local leaders as well.

A presentation of their well structured vision attracted the interest of the incoming JCI President (David Hide Oji, from Japan). In fact, he was so impressed that Kenneth was chosen to be the Special Assistant to the JCI President. This opened many new doors and opened up for new possibilities.

The vision was clear, but the money was a different story. There had been other projects with great visions that did not succeed, because of insufficient funds. So the million dollar question was, how do we get the funds we need in order to make this a successful event? The question happened to, literally, be a hundred thousand dollar question for Volvo, when Kenneth asked them to sponsor the academy. Volvo was a great candidate for sponsoring because they were a big company with international sales and most importantly, values that were in line with JCI’s. In 1995, at the JCI World Congress in Glasgow, one year after it was first initiated, the formal contract with Volvo was written. Thanks to engaged, forward thinking and competent JCI members, the JCI European Academy was and is a success even today. And it all started with a vision scribbled down on a napkin.