Young South African leaders now have a global platform to shape their own futures and an opportunity to translate dialogue into tangible change within their own communities.
Speaking at the launch of the Tshwane Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers today (Wednesday, June 12, 2013), Academic Area Head: Strategy, Governance and Marketing of the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), Professor Ernst Neuland, said that this exciting global initiative shared important synergies with the SBL’s vision of creating a generation of socially-responsible business leaders.
“As a partner of the Tshwane Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers, we are realising our unique identity as a truly African university that not only moulds the country’s future leaders to help achieve broader national developmental goals, but also helps provide sustainable solutions to everyday challenges at community level,” Neuland said.
Developed by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum three years ago, Global Shapers comprises a network of hubs facilitated by young leaders in major cities around the world. Each hub undertakes an impact-generating project to better its local community and organises workshops and meetings with leaders.
The Global Shapers network currently comprises 226 hubs led by 2 190 Shapers. There are three fully fledged hubs in South Africa. Each local hub is autonomous and develops its own guidelines and programmes.
The Tshwane Global Shapers Hub was initiated by Prof Sunette Pienaar, UNISA Deputy-Director of Community Engagement. Pienaar explained that UNISA wants to develop leaders that can engage locally and globally on an equal footing with their peers.
Kopano More, a graduate of the UNISA and chairperson of the Tshwane Hub, explained that Global Shapers were young ‘trail blazers’ between the ages of 20 and 30 who showed exceptional potential, exhibited a drive to make a meaningful contribution to their communities and had clocked up significant achievements. Shapers come from all walks of life and share a spirit of entrepreneurship.
The Tshwane hub currently has 10 shapers, two core hub advisors and a patron. It has identified four projects. The flagship Do It Yourself (DIY) campaign is backed by Nedbank and encourages young people to make a difference. “The reason we chose this programme is to inspire young people to take charge and get involved with something that has local impact and can inspire other young people,” More pointed out.
Other projects include the ‘The Shape of our Minds’, a leadership book which will include chapters written by each of the Shapers, a leadership column which members of the hub write for the popular online Tshwane Youth Magazine and the Leaderthon which comprises outreaches to young communities in the form of workshops, public talks, seminars, youth events and personal engagement.
In addition to the UNISA SBL and Nedbank, the Tshwane Hub is supported by the Vega School of Brand Leadership, Heartbeat and the Centre for Community Development. “Through our involvement, we will assist these young leaders in their quest to address challenges such as unemployment, poor education, poverty and inequality. The Tshwane Hub’s approach and project in terms of ‘youth doing it themselves’ resonates with us as we believe that the only way to deal with the challenges facing young people sustainably is by the active participation and leadership by young people themselves. Nedbank’s role will take the form of facilitation, coaching, promotion and largely cheering from the side-lines as the young shapers in this hub do it for themselves,” said Nedbank’s HR Group Executive and the Tshwane Hub’s patron, Abe Thebyane.
More pointed out that, as 50 percent of the world’s population was under the age of 27, young people had to be included in finding tangible solutions to the world’s problems. In South Africa, this was even more important as (according to the recent national census) 58,5 percent of the population is under 34 and, with an average age of 24,9 years, the country has one of the youngest populations in the world. He said a recent WEF study had found that members of the ‘millennial generation’ considered themselves active agents of change rather than passive bystanders – 92 percent agreed that the world must change, 84 percent considered it their duty to drive this change and almost 82 percent believed they had the power to make it happen.
He added that the Tshwane Shapers would benefit from and grow through interacting with their compatriots in other countries. “Now they have access to a network of young leaders on every continent and in almost every country. Surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities in the projects and therefore a lot of synergies which gives our shapers an opportunity to implement local programmes with international input and expertise.”
For further information on both global and local shapers: