There is probably only one thing better than bringing 227 of the region’s future entrepreneurial leaders together under one roof, and that is to be privy to their inspirational ideas and experience their collective energy and dynamism. In the coming years, their ripples of proposed change will ultimately bear fruit thanks largely to their visionary thinking.
From 21st to 22nd September, the entire Allan Gray Fellowship attended the Programme’s National Jamboree at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. The Jamboree is an inspirational meeting of ideas and actions that lies at the heart of the Foundation’s vision.
Kicking off this flagship event was Tshepo Phakathi, whose humble ekhasi upbringing saw him actively seeking out opportunities which culminated in a highly successful entrepreneurship trajectory. Recently recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, Tshepo now oversees several companies employing over 2000 staff in total.
This set the scene for moving into Open Space– a facilitation technique that creates an organic and Fellow-driven conference agenda. It was an opportunity for the Fellows to exercise their conceptual and problem-solving abilities by addressing everyday issues.
The Fellow Entrepreneurial Leadership Programme formed the basis of these discussions. Over the past few months, the Fellows have actively engaged with their Entrepreneurial Leadership Coaches by submitting inefficiencies that they had noted in their environment.
The value of this mindset development support shone through in the quality and diversity of the ideas presented by the Fellows. After three rounds of pitching ideas and solutions to their peers, the Fellows then voted on the inefficiencies that they felt had the most real world potential. Eight Fellows were shortlisted to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, industry captains and investors on the final day.
Paul Smith, who has extensive experience in entrepreneurial research, kicked off the last day. According to his research, Fellows could significantly increase their chances of entrepreneurial success by finding a business partner, starting off with over R250 000 in cash, gaining industry experience and studying for as long as possible!
The quality and depth of the ideas pitched to the panel was clearly apparent. Harald Oswin, who is in the process of completing his studies at Harvard, was eventually recognised for the potential of his highly innovative entrepreneurial idea.
By many regards, the Jamboree is the ultimate Fellowship experience. Its value lies not just in the two day event, but also in the Fellowship’s Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum that supports it. Given that this was only the second Jamboree iteration, it is clearly an amazing platform to showcase the possibilities arising from bringing entrepreneurially-magnetized Fellows together within an intentional space.
Given that most Fellows will have up to four of these Jamboree engagements over their Fellowship journey, it is the most powerful insight yet into the emerging talent being catalysed by Allan Gray’s long-term vision.
Fellowship 2014: Applications for Grade 12 students closed 31st May 2012 and applications for first year university students closed 31st August 2012, with over 1700 applications received in total from all over Southern Africa. Candidates will undergo a rigorous selection process from September to December 2012, with less than 100 Fellows ultimately selected to join the Fellowship in 2014.