The Brightest Young Minds (BYM) experience was one of the highlights of my year. The brand “Brightest Young Minds” triggered anxieties in me as I anticipated a crowd of lively and robust young people from across Africa. And that is exactly what I got, minus the anxieties, of course. It came as no surprise for me to find among the BYM delegates Candidate Allan Gray Fellows and graduated Allan Gray Fellows – they were easy to recognise and relate to. In my mind the summit became a blueprint of high-impact connectivity that enabled young people from many countries to come together under one roof to discuss continental issues and imminent feasible solutions to “shape the future – the now” as was the theme.
Fundamental to the theme of the summit was the National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa. This key document was broadly discussed by a panel that included the Head of Planning, NDP Government official. The highlight of this discussion was the issue around transformation and how GDP could be strengthened by it, given that everyone was driven towards that common goal. I believe this panel activated all the delegates, proving the value of cohesion towards transforming our economies across Africa.
It was not only the delegates that were in the spotlight. There were also well known individuals such as Stephen Van Coller, who fired up the summit from day one. One could also draw inspiration from the likes of Rudi Kruger, who, in my opinion, has rare, deep and revolutionary ideas about innovation. The CEO of Index Innovation discussed the need for disruptions in the technology sectors and how one can take control of such spaces. He emphasised the power of independent thinking and how it leads to disrupting industries – these insights I valued the most.
I believe all delegates, including me responded positively to all the insights shared by the various speakers. A case in point was how these fundamental truths were translated into our group’s business idea. Our idea was pretty much about creating synergy and linking what some of the group members were already doing. We managed to link a Candidate Allan Gray Fellow’s project in rural farming communities with the expertise of a young Kenyan commercial farmer.
We pitched our idea to a panel that included staff from Barclays Africa Group and came third. Later on we also presented it to the Minister in the Presidency – Honourable Jeff Radebe. Not only did our idea come third at BYM event, we also received promises of Agricultural Division support from Barclays Africa Group; an incubator, Awethu Project; and the Government of South Africa to help us move our idea forward.
Our idea opened up possibilities for partnerships and future collaborations between delegates from other African countries. This is a much needed interface in the current economic show-off – a collective effort and treaty among young African entrepreneurs.