The Charles Bronfman Prize Names Nik Kafka as 2022 Recipient
Nik Kafka, the founder and CEO of Teach a Man to Fish, an organization which addresses the lack of opportunity for young people trapped in a cycle of poverty, was announced today as the 2022 recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize.
Kafka left a successful career in banking to launch Teach A Man to Fish in 2006. London-based Teach A Man To Fish works with educators and young people -particularly in low-income countries- to set up youth-led enterprises which are both educational and profitable, giving students the skills and mindset to achieve greater success in their studies, secure a decent job, set up their own business and make an impact on their community.
“It is a great honor to be the recipient of the 2022 Charles Bronfman Prize,” Kafka said. “We believe that practical entrepreneurship education is key to tackling youth unemployment and poverty worldwide. The recognition that comes with this Prize will be a huge help as we scale our efforts.”
The Charles Bronfman Prize is an annual award of $100,000 presented to a humanitarian under fifty whose innovative work, informed by Jewish values, has significantly improved the world. The Prize was founded by Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, together with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, to honor their father on his 70th birthday.
“As we present The Prize for the 18th year, it is especially meaningful that Nik’s work reflects so much of our dad’s values,” said Ellen Bronfman Hauptman on behalf of the four founders. “I look forward to introducing him not only to the other laureates working in education but to all of the exceptional humanitarians who received The Prize before him.”
Kafka’s work addresses a critical need. At the start of 2020, approximately 68 million young people around the world were unemployed according to the International Labor Organization. Even among employed young people, approximately 55 million are still living in extreme poverty, with the impact of COVID-19 exacerbating the crisis.
Teach A Man to Fish – the name derived from the maxim, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime” — offers a solution. “Conventional education is not enough to meet this challenge,” Kafka points out. “These young people need skills that are valued by employers that allow them to adapt to an ever-changing world.”
In his flagship program, the School Enterprise Challenge, available free to any school, students form a business team, and are guided through a series of tasks to plan and run a real business. They are facilitated by teachers trained in the program, a suite of educational resources and regular tailored support. Learning takes place as students undertake real-world tasks and the school often benefits from the additional income generated by the business.
To date, almost half a million students have taken part in programs affiliated with Teach a Man to Fish; 370,000 young entrepreneurs have participated; nearly 20,000 teachers have been trained and 5,500 businesses have been established in 34 countries including in Asia, South America and Africa.
His nominator and mentor, Dr. Martin Burt of Fundacion Paraguaya, wrote, “Nik remains driven by a burning sense of injustice that despite mankind’s miraculous advances in so many fields, we still inhabit a world where millions of people live in crushing poverty with little idea of how to escape it.”
“Nik’s work is extraordinary.” Charles Bronfman declared, “Through the ‘fishing pole’ initiative he gives young adults every chance to gainfully participate in the economy. I congratulate the judges on their inspired selection.”