ALA’s South African Ideas Festival 2016 – And the Winner Is…

Davi Ferreira Tavares Da Silva, 20, was announced the winner of the 4th edition of the South African Ideas Festival (SAIF) held at African Leadership Academy on Sunday the 5th of March 2016. Davi walked away with $200 towards implementing his big idea – which is to create recycled paper bags and to provide an alternative use of plastic bags in Mozambique.

The festival is organized by the Bezos Scholars at ALA, namely: Okong’o Kinyanjui, 19, from Kenya, Portia Kuivi, 18 (Ghana), Estela Naula, 19 (Mozambique), Max Broheim, 17 (US), Francis Chitawo, 18 (Malawi), and Liston Cosmas, 19 (Tanzania).

Every year, a group of our young leaders are chosen as Bezos Scholars and attend the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, United States. SAIF is a culmination of the skills and knowledge learned. The 3-day local Ideas Festival held in South Africa hosted at the Academy. It brings together innovative and passionate African youthh from around the continent to develop and showcase their BIG ideas and solutions to help eradicate some of Africa’s greatest challenges.  With eighty participants in attendance, this was ALA’s most successful SAIF event.

The theme was ‘Catalysing Your Ideas For Action’. One of the guest speakers, Neftaly Malatjie, founder of the Southern Africa Youth Project, spoke passionately about impactful community development on the African continent and the need for strategies to generate more employment opportunities to engage the youth. Neftaly’s presentation and experience were an inspiration to the aspiring entrepreneurs at SAIF 2016.

In his address to the participants, Okong’o Kinyanjui spoke about emotional intelligence, encouraging participants to be receptive to criticism and constructive feedback. He encouraged participants to be open to failure as they were expected to come up with revolutionary ideas. He reiterated that failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. Furthermore, he encouraged them to take advantage of the powerful minds around them in order to build great networks.

A highlight of SAIF was the presentations of different ideas and projects by participants. The topics addressed included: education of the African girl child; unemployment on the continent; and animal poaching. With unemployment being rife in most on the continent, Promise Mangwela from Tetelo (South Africa), a guest speaker; stated that finding solutions to youth unemployment is of utmost importance. Proclaiming that if we want to increase the absorption and retention of African youths into the economy, we need to create employment, through which people will be empowered.

Proposals regarding the implementation of peer tutoring in schools were also brought to the limelight. According to Lethabo Gabriella Seopa (South Africa), peer tutoring will help those who think they cannot succeed due to a failure they may have encountered. Peer-to-peer tutoring will help develop skills in organizing and planning learning activities. This will instill a culture of working collaboratively among youth and in the process, giving and receiving feedback and evaluating their own learning which will help develop the potential of learners and increase pass rates in schools.

The creation of recycled paper bags to help solve the problem of waste disposal in Mozambique, which has been a major challenge in that country, presented by Davi Ferreira Tavares Da Silva was the winning idea. The judges deemed it strong on all three of their award criteria: innovation; implementation; and the ability to make a big difference. Special awards were also given to those participants who had been the most active (Promise Mangwela, South Africa), most outgoing (Amanda Goba, South Africa), strongest all-rounder (Tabelo Mabe, South Africa), and the most active in the education sector (Zinzile Ramatsiba, South Africa).


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