Westmont Magazine Investing in Human Capital
Jason Jenkins ’97 makes a living by helping clients manage their money. He makes a difference by investing in human capital. Speci-fically, he has helped establish the Human Factor Leadership Academy in Ghana to educate a generation of Africans committed to building a sustainable society and economy.
Jason first heard about the human factor theory as a graduate student at Point Loma University. The economics and business major entered the financial advising field after graduating from Westmont and decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration to broaden his knowledge. Working during the day, he attended classes at night. “I learned a lot and use those skills every day in my business,” he says. “But the real benefit was meeting Professor Senyo Adjibolosoo, the author of ‘The Human Factor and Leadership Effectiveness.’ The significance of his theory didn’t register with me during class — I was too overwhelmed with work and school. But when I read his book, I knew he’d outlined a sustainable solution to social and economic problems.”
Briefly, Adjibolosoo argues that spiritual and moral capital hold true economic value and should be developed along with other business and leadership skills. By focusing only on competence and ignoring character, business programs too often produce leaders ill-prepared to deal with human failings that bring down organizations. “Greed caused the sub-prime crisis and the Enron debacle,” Jason says. “Corrupt leaders in Third World Countries put money into their homes and personal bank accounts instead of infrastructure. We have to start with children and develop people motivated by values, who want to make a difference for their country, not just themselves.”
Jason was so excited after meeting with Adjibolosoo that he wanted to start holding seminars, raising money and building schools. Then he realized that successfully implementing the theory would be the most powerful way to promote it. “We’ll make it work and then write about it,” he says.
The two men chose Ghana for their project because Adjibolosoo has connections there and economic conditions in the country are improving. Jason purchased land in Akatsi, and a resource center opened there in 2006 thanks to donations of 15,000 books and 200 computers. The academy is scheduled to begin in the fall with a preschool class and the first year of college. The curriculum focuses on four essential programs: nursing, business, civil engineering and teacher training. Jason encountered the kinds of problems he hopes to address when setting up the center: the books sat in port for two months because officials wanted bribes. For more information, see www.humanfactorla.org.
The school won’t yield immediate results, Jason says. “It will take 20 years or more. You can’t measure human development in a short period of time.”
Jason’s passion for making a difference dates to his years at Westmont when he staged a production of Ibsen’s “A Doll House” to raise money for a local shelter for battered women. Thanks to broad community support, the benefit netted $38,000. Establishing his business career, marrying his wife, Jennifer, and having two children, occupied his time in between projects. “I like helping people,” Jason says. “I didn’t want to wait until I was 50 and financially secure before giving my resources and my time. I want to leave a legacy for my kids so they can say that their dad made a difference.”