Set clear goals, understand the rules, and diversify your portfolio. That is the sage advice from a group of four Headstart High School learners from Bloemfontein who emerged victorious, taking top spot in the JSE Investment Challenge’s Spectacular Portfolio category for the month of May.

Amogelang Mabilo, Aabakwe Malope, Samekelo Sam, and Oomogetswe Brian – or rather, the NL-Pandas – are the group of Grade 10 and 11 learners who have proved it’s never too early to get investment savvy.

“We developed a trade strategy and we stayed on it,” Malope explained, adding, “We decided to take emotions out of our investment decisions and spread our investments across different asset classes and sectors.”

Despite their lack of experience in investments and stock markets, the learners proved their mettle and became quick studies using the JSE’s resources and staying up to date with market trends and analysis.

Their astuteness paid off, helping them register 3.84% growth on their portfolio.

The JSE Investment Challenge, now in its 51st year running, is designed to cultivate an investment culture and improve financial literacy across South African educational institutions, from schools to universities. Teams are given an opportunity to invest a virtual amount of R1 million on the stock market in real stocks listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange over a six-month period.

Mabilo added, “We tried to avoid impulsive decisions based on market fluctuations and developed a risk management strategy as a team to minimise potential losses.

The team was mentored by University of Free State student, Nomonde Matena, whom they credit for sharing her valuable experience and support in helping them stay motivated and disciplined in their investment approach

“She shared insightful resources such as research reports, articles and other tools to assist us in decision making and we benefited from her objective perspective,” Sam attested.

However, teamwork was the real glue that brought it all together and made the challenge not only competitive for the NL-Pandas, but fun too.

On this, Brian stated, “We each brought our ideas to the table, and learned from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It made learning about investing enjoyable and competitive as we all gained practical experience and developed a deeper understanding of financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and ETFs.”

Ralph Speirs, Senior CSI Officer at the JSE, congratulated the winners of the May round, adding that the simulated investment environment continued to play its role as a critical lever in advancing financial literacy among young people in the country.

“Learners are able to immerse themselves in understanding investment concepts and strategies. The participation of young teams such as NL-Pandas is testament to the growing need to build our youth’s capacity in navigating financial complexities with finesse and confidence,” said Speirs.

Overall category winners for May are:

Schools Income Portfolio: Pace Commercial Secondary School, Gauteng

Schools Equity Portfolio: Paul Roos Gymnasium, Western Cape

Schools Spectacular Portfolio: Headstart High, Free State

Schols EFT/ETN Portfolio: Lebone College of The Royal Bafokeng, North West

University Spectacular Portfolio: University of Cape Town, Western Cape

University EFT/ETN Portfolio: University of Pretoria, Gauteng

Schools and universities who are keen to participate in the challenge can still register electronically at and To stay updated, follow the competition’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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