The One Young World Experience

The 4th One young world Summit held in Johannesburg was a tremendous success!

Through the exceptional plenary sessions with various industry leaders from global business, entrepreneurship, civil society to government and recreation (sports). The information and experiences shared were uplifting and certainly inspiring and motivating. engaging in open dialogue discussions on socio-economic issues such as: Sustainable Development, Youth Unemployment, Education, Global Business, Leadership and Governance, Human rights and amongst a few others transparency and integrity.

One of my favorite sessions (well, there were countless, to be honest) but one that stood out and resonated with me the most was the session with the phenomenal Dr Mohammed Yunu's on Social Business. I founded the Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy, a start-up pan-African social enterprise in November 2012, close to a year now. When I did, I had a vision, a vision that consisted of ideas, inventions and creative illustrations driven by my imagination...a vision I believed nobody else in the world would ever have. The vision manifested each day, which involved the planning of new strategies, evaluation of goals and objectives and the creation of a propelling mission statement and plan of action. All that still exists and with Dr Yunu's talk during the opening ceremony held at Soccer City with over 1200 delegates from 190 countries around the world. Realized right then - that all the delegates that flew from all over the world to be together in Johannesburg for that particular week, also had visions of a greater future and even more different than the vision I had. Everyone had ideas, innovations,goals, ambitions and set objectives they wanted to accomplish...all in all we all share the same vision, and that was - to change the world. To visualize a world that we want to see, and create it for our generation and the  next generation to come.

Now, being a young and emerging social entrepreneur, getting words of encouragement from an experienced professional in the field of social entrepreneurship is always exciting and daring. Mohammed Yunu's shared how social business is rapidly changing communities and providing a better life for all, also inspiring delegates to think about the eradication of poverty and ensuring that we live with the motto "impossible is nothing" , by reiterating "We can make the impossible - possible." Well - that gave me a leap of faith to hold on to and practice right after the summit.
In addressing pressing socio-economic challenges, Kofi Annan reassured us that indeed - "We have the knowledge, resources and capabilities to overcome these challenges" He continued by saying, what was needed to make the change happen, with ensuring that our voices are heard was: "effective political leaders and effective democratic institutions.." (Well done to the launch of the  "School of Government" in South Africa, weeks after the One Young World summit, that replaced the Public Administration and Leadership Academy, Such an institution hopefully aims to achieve that and many other goals and contribute to social and political governance, leadership and the advocacy sectors. )
Bob Geldon, an icon that many look up to was as assertive as always and like anybody else would say, if you really want to get things done "Go on with it, get sh*t done"

Besides the plenary sessions, the summit had an official welcome, where all the individuals who helped with making the summit a success were welcomed and thanked, including the Councillors and a message from keynote speakers and the major of the City of Johannesburg was delivered. Later on, were performances from the Soweto Gospel Choir joined by song bird and South Africa's very own internationally renounced singing sensation:Lira, who blessing the masses with her hit single "Feel good" (oh, we certainly did FEEL GOOD alright!).
The South African Sasol Orchestral played a tune and what an atoning group those young fellows are, they owned the instruments and delivered a ground breaking performance. I remember thinking "they should definitely be invited to the presidents inauguration next time" (oh well - anything to showcase their talents of course.). The various schools that were invited to the ceremony that consisted of 8000 pupils from schools in Soweto, enjoyed themselves at the stadium - and thanks to the 2010 World Cup that was hosted in our national grounds- when you bring "South Africans" and "Stadium" together - you get "Vuvuzelas", and those could be heard throughout the proceedings of the opening delivery. Well enough- Kate Robertson and David Jones knew how to keep them silent. Everybody sure did have a joyfully fantastic time. (If you missed it, the video's above)

The break through sessions were held  in different communities across Gauteng, addressing pressing socio-economic challenges and strategically finding new ways of steering change within existing and possibly potentially new systems that exist around the world. Furthermore, I must say the networking sessions were used to my best benefit, I got the opportunity to engage in open discussions with young leaders from around the world, doing amazing things in their countries of residence. Happy to say, I believe, I have new friends from over 100 countries who share the same ambitions and global vision as myself. As much as collaboration was on of the most reiterated topic during the duration of the summit, collaborations, merging and creation of new projects has since elevated after the summit. Young leaders are keeping in contact through the summit's Facebook group with over 800 members, created by  One Young World Ambassadors.

Well, there is a lot else that happened that you can reflect on by following One Young World on Twitter and  to watch the videos  posted on the summit, there are more videos on One Young World Youtube Channel and

The last day was filled with excitement and with Winnie Mandela being present and delivering a keynote speech on the history, present and future of South Africa and the possibles there are for determined young people with the drive, zeal, commitment and motivation to succeed - changing the world is set to be done. Having had a session on "knowing Nelson Mandela" with leaders that knew him well. Winnie's presence was certainly eye-opening and inspirational for all who listened in and chanted "Amandla!" at the end of her speech, which is a Xhosa and Zulu word, when translated - means "power" - the word is still associated with struggles against oppression, however at that very moment, the chant signified unity! With youth from around the world in one dignified space, we certainly were unified and formed - a One Young World!

In closing, The 5th annual One Young World Summit will be happening  in Dublin, Ireland in 2014.

Thanks to Brand South Africa for sponsoring myself and 3 other exceptional young leaders making a difference in our homes, communities and greater societies. Hopefully at some point our impacts will not only shape our economy one day, but transform the rest of the world!

Read more about the Summit, Delegates and Brand South Africa Press Releases here:

Zanele Mabaso 
One Young World Ambassador
Twitter     : @zanelemabaso23

Interview with Theo Sowa

The 9th Edition of the prestigious annual Womens Forum in Economy and Society Global Meeting and conference was held in France Deauville from 16-18 October 2013. Ilive2lead International which is an organisation that plays a significant role in professional development of women from developing and developed countries around the globe, conducts youth leadership training programs in fields of Government and Advocacy, Sustainable Development, education (to name a few), in different countries in regions every year. They do this through their exceptional International Leadership Summits, being an ILive2Lead Global Ambassador was invited alongside 5 other young women from 5 different countries to represent the youth delegation of official media representatives at the Global meeting. On the first day of the forum, I got the opportunity of getting to know an incredible woman who has played a major role in the development of women across the continent for many years. A truly well accomplished  pioneer of change and inspiration to many:  Theo Sewo, the CEO of African Women's Development Fund:

With the challenges that women face in the world of work where most industries are still made dominated and women are rising as role models for more young women leaders to follow in their footsteps. The well-spoken Theo shared what it takes to be a woman in the 21st century: “One has to be strong, have a clear vision and work hard” Theo added that the most important element was to have a strong sense of self : “To be successful you need to have a strong sense of yourself, because if you don’t; you will get distracted by other people’s perceptions.”

Theo has played a vital role in the development of women through the African Women’s Development Fund where she currently heads as CEO, she has worked on women’s rights issues covering  a range of activities with a special focus on the promotion and protection of women’s rights in armed conflict situations, as well as work evaluating and strengthening women focused development programs in Africa. Theo shared what the African Women’s Development Fund aims to achieve and how it contributes to the sustainable development of young women in Africa, she said: “The Africa Women’s Development Fund is the first continent wide foundation for Africa women, it was set up by African women and signifies the work of African women’s organisations in Africa. AWDF tries to get funds to the organisations that can bring change to their communities”, Theo mentioned the changing of perceptions from people about Africa and women in Africa and how they aim to bring about change on the perceptions through generic organisations lead by women across the continent.

Being in a world where young people want to not only be heard but do things that will revolutionarise their current oppression's and situations. Theo shared what impressed her about young leaders and what she would want to see more young people do. “I like the energy and the ability young leaders have to cross many boundaries and work together effortlessly.”  she further explained would she like to see more young leaders work better with current leaders as she believes there is great power in inter-generation where the younger generation dialogues and exchanges insights leading to change with the older generation proactively, “also to see young people tackle together, head on some of the issues we haven’t managed to solve yet . Drafting solutions and creating positive change where change is needed”.  I, personally, sincerely believe  exchanging knowledge and ideas on issues that oppress women and relating to women rights  such as, social injustice and violence against women,  amongst a few with other young leaders and coming up with not only innovative solutions to addressing them but making appeals and recommendations  to global organisations that have the power to implement and foster the change will  assist in creating a better world for young women in developed and developing countries. 

Theo has extensive experience of working with grant making organisations and foundations. She serves currently as a board member of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (a multi million pound grant making organisation); is a Trustee of Comic Relief and the Chair of its International Grant Making Committee; and is a member of the Africa Advisory Board for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Having addressed thousands of women at the opening and welcome of the Women’s Forum by the program committee, with exceptional women leaders ; Maria Livanos Cattaui, Nina Gardner, Ann Walker Merchant and the President of the Women’s forum Veronique Morali. Theo spoke profoundly about how women have the ability to influence policies through effective collaboration. She added: “Girls and women are not victims; they know how to create change and make a difference. But they lack the funds to do so.” and resonating with many when saying; “When we work together, we work differently.”

 With young women rising across all nations and being pioneers and advocates of change, Theo concluded with words of motivation and encouragement to young women who aim to create change within their communities “There is a great generation of young people with new ideas and new ways of thinking , where those ideas have the ability to reshape the older ways of thinking and doing things. This is your moment, make the most of it and your ideas and don’t let people tell you cannot make it, because you can indeed make a big difference to this world.”

Theo is also an Advisory group member of the ‘Every Child a Reader’ literacy initiative, a member of the British Refugee Council Leadership Group and a board member of the Gra├ža Machel Trust.  Not only is She  an outstanding and powerful leader, but she is an example of an individual that exemplifies a true role model, committed and dedicated to her work and those of others.

“Women rights are not just women’s rights, they are indivisible – rights are indivisible” – Theo Sewo

Website     :  
Twitter      : @il2lorg   
My handle: @zanelemabaso23 @yseacademy