Activate! Change Drivers “is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa”. These young leaders come from across the country and across the economic spectrum too. The network is supported by an organisation which hosts an annual ‘Innovation Showcase’ at which over 300 young leaders were recently gathered.
The showcase served not only as a celebration of the public good being done by the network, but also provided a platform for Activators to have face-to-face interaction not only with themselves, but a variety of civil society organisation leaders and innovators in a variety of fields.
Activate CEO Chris Meintjies, welcomed all present noting that “we are in for a wonderful two days, which are about inspiring possibilities”. He further went on to remind Activators that “the network is yours, you are the Change Drivers who make this network the force that it is and still could be” which elicited a huge chorus of support from those present.
Activators were requested to close their eyes and look into their hearts and to ask themselves “What do you want for yourself; for your family and also for your community”. This was followed up with a question in which all were challenged to answer what it is they want for the country. Meintjies powerful welcome was closed with the strong conviction that we can all make things better, in our homes, communities and country- a thought that set the tone for the rest of the showcase.
To kick off day one of the showcase, Activators were treated to the inspirational stories of Gcina Mhlope, David Harrison and Siyabulela Xuza. All great South Africans who have contributed a lot to society despite the personal hardships each have undergone. The session was an emotional journey of inspiring possibilities, imagining what we can be- both as individuals and collectively.
This was followed by a session in of imagining the kind of South Africa that Activators want. This was done through discussions with top public innovators from organisations such as Local Government Action, the Legal Resources Centre, Youth Lab, Gun Free South Africa and Inyathelo amongst many others. Beyond the sessions, Activators were also given an opportunity to interact with these organisations at the Activate! Café. This allowed for organisations to share their work, resources and the various ways that the network could both access and use them.
One of the highlights of the showcase was the ‘Elevator Pitch Expo’. Here, Activators were given an opportunity to showcase their various projects and ideas. 87 exceptional initiatives were displayed, with those who prepared them provided an opportunity to pitch them to the network; potential funder and the public innovators who had attended the event. From these, the top ten projects were voted for on the basis of impact and efficiency. Those who pitched were also given the opportunity to hear others’ thoughts on their respective projects; what can be improved where necessary and also to practice their elevator pitches for the bigger world out there.
Over and above being a celebration, a networking platform and more, the showcase was also an opportunity for planning collective action. Key issues around which campaigns were formed include government accountability; violence against women and ensuring the financial sustainability of their various projects through the formation of a ‘seed bank’.
The tone for 2014 is set, with action being the key theme for these young leaders.
* Disclaimer: The author of this article, Koketso Moeti, is part of the Activate! Change Drivers network.