ALA’s Bezos Scholars Host the 8th South African Ideas Festival

During the month of February, African Leadership Academy hosted the eight annual South African Ideas Festival (SAIF), bringing together 35 scholars from high schools and universities around South Africa, working on the theme: “Self-Taught Leadership”. 

SAIF is a culmination of a year-long leadership development program, which enables a select group of ALA students to acquire skills and knowledge, firstly through participating at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, USA, and secondly through the Student Enterprise Program at ALA. With the support of the Bezos Family Foundation, five first-year ALA students are selected each year for the program, and are subsequently challenged to host a local ideas festival at ALA in their second year. The three-day local Ideas Festival held in South Africa brings together innovative and passionate students from around the country to develop and showcase their BIG ideas and solutions to help eradicate some of Africa’s greatest challenges.  

This year’s five SAIF ALA student hosts – Mpiwa Gwindi ’18 of Zimbabwe, Thaksheel Alleck ’18 of Mauritius, Mike Remezo ’18 of Burundi, Abigail Abuga ’18 of Kenya, and Nicolus Mositi ’18 of Lesotho, as well as their Entrepreneurial and Leadership educator, Nkembo Kiala, worked for nine months to design an impactful three-day ideas festival from February 21st-23rd.

Activities over the three-days included team-building activities aimed at teaching the scholars the importance of teamwork. They also brought forward brainstorming sessions where the scholars learned conflict management, the importance of the fourth industrial revolution in the development of an organization, and how to manage a business.

“This year, SAIF took a different approach; the scholars came from different schools like Waterford Kamhlaba United World College, Roedean School, University of Pretoria, The University of Witwatersrand, and The University of Western Cape. As a team, we wanted to be able to engage the scholars meaningfully. This enabled high school students to mingle and collaborate with University students,” said ALA Entrepreneurial and Leadership Educator, and 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival chaperone, Nkembo Kiala. 

This year, SAIF also partnered with The Anzisha Prize, and welcomed an external expert, Daniel Jacobs, CEO of Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, to share insights on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Anzisha Program is a partnership between ALA and the Mastercard Foundation that seeks to significantly increase the number of job generative entrepreneurs in Africa. As a program, they believe that a key to doing so is to test, implement and then share models for identifying, training and connecting high potential, very young entrepreneurs who are between the ages of 15 to 22-year-olds so that many more organizations have better collective success in creating a pipeline of entrepreneurs with the capabilities for scale.

If you know of a young South Africa scholar who has innovative ideas that they would like to use to create a business or organization that would improve their community or the continent as a whole, encourage them to enter the South African Ideas Festival for 2021.