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WBS immerses Young Global Leaders in African experience

- Wits University

Wits Business School hosts YGLs for special education module.

For the second time, Wits Business School has joined some of the most elite universities in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and the National University of Singapore (NUS) in hosting a group of World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders (YGLs) for the four-day module in December.

Under the theme ‘Leading for Transformation’, the module introduced 30 dynamic young leaders from around the world to the concept of leadership in the African political and economic context.

Responsibility for designing the programme was entrusted to Director of WBS Executive Education, Devan Naicker, Head of Business Development Deskin Naidoo and Senior Programme Manager Michaela Mahes. “WBS was delighted to be able to join other top universities in hosting an education module for YGLs 2016,” says Naicker.

“We put together a rich and immersive programme which balanced academic content with cultural experiences. The aim was to provide an intense, personal development and learning experience with regards to African societal and leadership opportunities, and practical networks for developing vital links between Africa and the rest of the world.”

The young leaders from China, Pakistan, the UK, Singapore, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria, Norway, Mongolia, Jordan, Mexico, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and South Africa began their tour with a visit to the Cradle of Humankind followed by a welcome dinner hosted by Wits Vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib at his official residence, Savernake. The group also visited Johannesburg’s Maboneng District, the Origins Centre and the Tshimologong Innovation Hub at Wits University, and the Kliptown Youth Programme (KYP).

The YGL Forum is a global community of about 800 enterprising, socially-minded men and women who are under the age of 40 at the time of nomination. Each year, the Forum selects 120 of the world’s most outstanding next-generation leaders based on a proven track record of extraordinary achievement and a deep commitment to positive social impact. Among them are lawyers and academics, social entrepreneurs and business leaders, community activists and entrepreneurs.

The WBS module presented numerous opportunities for public debate, private discussion, self-reflection and interaction with some of Africa’s thought leaders, including politicians, social activists and business leaders.  Among those who addressed the YGLs were Mr Sipho Pityana, Founder and Chairman of Izingwe Holdings, Lindiwe Mazibuko, political activist and former DA MP, Zwelethu Madasa, former advocate of the Supreme Court Advocate, veteran anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, co-founder and CEO of the Awethu Project Jusuf Rees and founder of the African Leadership Academy Frank Swaniker.

“The delegates left on the final day of the programme feeling changed, and ready to be a catalyst for change in their communities. The programme was designed to touch on all the delegate’s senses, and I think that is where much of the success of the programme lies,” comments Mahes.

The delegates agreed that the highlight of the tour was their visit to Kliptown where, through KYP co-founder Thulani Madondo and his fellow community leaders, they saw “real, transformative leadership” in action.  KYP provides after-school support for 460 Kliptown children, and has seen 27 students going on to university.  So inspired and touched by the experience were the YGLs that they raised R26 000 from their private funds, which was used for a Christmas party for the children of Kliptown.

“What really came home to me during the Wits module was that Africa has resilience, and the lessons we have learnt should be shared with the rest of the world – that is an important contribution that we can make,” says YGL Vimbayi Kajese from Zimbabwe.

Saudi-Arabian lawyer Sofana Dahlan commented at the close: “It was a true honour to go through this experience with all of you….. Africans are really about humanity, generosity, giving and inclusion ... simply “Ubuntu". I am truly grateful for the opportunity to see the real beauty of Africa not only from my lens but the lens of each one of you.”

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