Youth Economic Sector driving change both on and offline

By Keagen Je-ron Gertse

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is home to South Africa’s largest youth network. In their short period of existence, ACTIVATE! has created a platform for over 4500 young leaders who are impacting their respective communities positively on various levels across the country. Being the umbrella organisation for such a diverse group of young people is nothing short of challenging and forces decision-makers to be at the forefront of innovation by incorporating various forms of engagement to appease the masses.

This can be seen by how quickly the Youth Economic Participation (YEP) sector, lead by Nathacia Olivier, came to the decision to introduce an online Biz (business) Gallery Expo as a measure to bridge the gap between young people and opportunities. The aim was to curb against impending demotivation during the lockdown period. The expo, which took place on Friday the 29th of May 2020, was aimed at providing breakthrough entrepreneurial opportunities, career information & ensuring employment accessibility through digital means. This was the first ever, online event that held and hosted top-list guest speakers, with the likes of Ms. Nomsa Kana (Scientist & 4iR South African Commissioner), Mrs. Kristal Duncan (National Youth Capital Coordinator) & Dr. Thabo Pitse (Coach & Master Trainer of Entrepreneurship). This was also in partnership with BrandSA and NYDA, who equally contributed their expertise towards the development of young people in SA.

In addition to this, the sector incorporated a pitching competition with cash prize giveaways to deserving participants. This capital injection would contribute towards their individual business ventures. Finalists Selekanye Seribe (1st place), won a R1000.00 cash prize, Tshepiso Mpele (2nd place) received a R700.00 prize giveaway and Bohlale Buzani (3rd place) took home a R500.00. The competition cemented the exemplary notion of a network that not only relies on its participants, but also invests in them to achieve greater success.

The Expo was planned over a two month period and saw the coming together of provincial YEP Champions Sheila Sims (Gauteng), Simangele Zwane (Gauteng) and Keagen Gertse (Western Cape) with their sector leader, Nathacia. This working relations was a remarkable evolution in the network being shaped by its participants, who paved the way for the statement, “being the change one wants to see in the world.”

South Africa, as we know it, has a grave number of challenges and socioeconomic factors which cripples its people daily. The prevailing inequalities, combined with a declining economy and failing system of governance provides breeding ground for all the wrongs that could throttle communities and disable progress. ACTIVATE! is part of a deeply rooted civil society who’s changing the trajectory of the youth by equipping the future generation with toolsets needed to navigate the intricacies of overcoming poverty and enforcing sustainable development by enhancing personal growth.

The Biz-Gallery Expo was just that. A means to provide opportunities to help grow and sustain holistic community and personal development, within this lockdown period. By embarking on a full online expo, the YEP sector laid the foundation in crossing the digital divide to ensure opportunities and information reaches those impenetrable regions of South Africa, to further expand its mandate.

The success of this event has paved the way for us to relook how to deliver on our social commitment by utilising technological tools at our disposal further reach and impact more communities. I have never been more proud to be part of such an exemplary network. One which embodies servitude before leadership.

The YEP sector- under the guidance of Nathacia Olivier- has embarked on an unprecedented journey to formulate a blueprint which would hopefully manifest unexplored ways to execute the task of building an inclusive youth-led network, across the racial divide and systemised boundaries.

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