By Paul Mabote
Social Entrepreneurs are indeed special. They find and implement creative solutions to social problems faced by many other people. Be that as it may, they too sometimes need guiding hands to show them the light. Switch is an innovative Social Entrepreneurship Programme that aims to equip young social entrepreneurs with relevant tools, skills, and information to help them advance and grow in their respective journeys as social entrepreneurs.
Constitution Hill was the chosen venue, where over 70 Switchers from all across South Africa converged for the annual Switch Seminar in Johannesburg. The theme for this year’s seminar was Everything Entrepreneurship and 4IR. This is what went down on the first day.
Claire Gemmill co-facilitated the seminar with Nhlanhla Ndlovu, who kicked things off by thanking all the Switchers in attendance and advising them to exercise more diligence and patience in developing their social enterprises.
Helga Jansen-Daugjerg, who is the National Programme Manager at ACTIVATE! , then gave a keynote address where she remarked to the young people “You have opportunities that my generation did not have, please do not squander them. One of the biggest forms of social capital that you have today is your ACTIVATE! identity.”
A talk on 4IR
Sithembiso Xakaza gave a presentation on 4IR and engaged with the Activators about some of the leaps that technology and artificial intelligence have allowed the human race to make within the past several years.
The most recent winners of the Start-Up Safari trip to India competition, Hendrick Swarts and Liyabona Mbomvane, regaled the group with their learnings and experiences from their entrepreneurial journey in India. They mentioned that compared to South Africa, entrepreneurship appeared to be a more prevalent means of making a living among people in India.
After a networking break, MCs Lerato Mokopanela and Jessie Mart sent the group to separate breakaway masterclass sessions, facilitated by various stakeholders. The breakaway sessions were titled Compliance (Facilitated by Sicelo Mbonani), Tech for the Social Entrepreneur (Facilitated by Sithembiso Xakaza and Pritchard Sibanda), as well as World Café (Facilitated by Claire Gemmill)
Ntsikelelo Zikalala of Digify Africa gave a spectacular presentation about Facebook, their features and tools and how social entrepreneurs can utilize the platform to maximise their reach and better connect with their customers.
Kwandile Chili from Ntuzuma in KZN says that the presentation by the Start-Up Safari winners stood out for him and he found the information shared by Hendrick and Liyabona very insightful and gave an interesting look into how things work in India.
Activator Kholofelo Maribe says that the session by Digify Africa gave her much-needed information about the complexities of social media marketing and she intends to implement what she learnt in her own business.
Themba Reggy Ndala, an Activator and Switcher from Zola in Soweto emphasised the importance of inclusivity in his reflection of day one; urging his fellow Activators to remember to work together as much as is possible.