From the 20th – 22nd of July all roads led to Celebration Centre Harare for the first ever Innovate Elevate Youth Conference powered by Higherlife Foundation. The two day conference saw young Africans from all walks of life come to participate in the life changing conference that focused on learning, exploring, building, connecting and engaging on transformative solutions to better Africa.
To kick-start the highly anticipated conference, delegates enjoyed a night of music by renowned artist Alexio Kawara; networking and a riveting panel of incredible young people who took bold steps and turned their innovative ideas into successful businesses. In his keynote address Econet Group CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni, reiterated on the importance of the youth in transforming Africa and expressed how the conference came at such a pinnacle time to usher in a new way of thinking that would get Africa’s youth to explore their role in shaping Africa’s future and make a real difference.
The night also saw critically acclaimed writer and filmmaker Uzo Iweala share his life story to being a successful entrepreneur and thought leader and his firm belief in making Africa the great continent it is. “To succeed you need to have the mental discipline & fortitude,” expressed Uzo Iweala. A dynamic African whose talent knows no bounds, Mr Iweala also spoke on the importance of collaboration and networking in establishing success and making a difference in the world. “The relationships that you form with other people help you elevate to greater heights,” stated Mr Iweala. Through his network Uzo was able to do more than he had envisioned for his career, “People around me have helped me become who I am, by elevating me rather than accumulate for themselves,” Uzo added.
The panel of the night ‘Young minds, Bright Ideas’ was also a highlight of the opening night. Comprising of Nene Mboweni (Co-Founder Luyanda & Co. and Mkweni Groundworks), Tawanda Chikosi(Founder & CEO of Road Rules Solutions ), Takunda Chingozoh (Social Entrepreneur & Founder, Tech Village) and Ruvimbo Nyangoni (Head of Strategic Initiatives, Higherlife Foundation), the panel offered attendees a diverse perspective on how businesses can start through an exploration of each panellists journey to furthering their ideas and creating success from the first bold steps they took to the key hurdles they overcame and the key moves they took to be where they are today.
Friday the 21st saw the take-off of the invigorating panel discussions with the panel on entrepreneurship & economic opportunity being the first to take centre stage. Seasoned entrepreneur Farai Mpofu whose was part of the panel emphasised the need for seeing things differently and acting. “Move away from the conventional way and surround yourself with people who can assist you,” stated Farai Mpofu. Farai Mpofu also reiterated on recognising one’s passions and focusing on the right resources to create success “Start with what you have, don’t look far beyond yourself but look within,” she added. Fellow panellist Velani Mboweni and Gerald Chirinda also highlighted the importance of taking action to realise success in entrepreneurship. “Be able to execute! Don’t wait for the perfect time because it will never come,” stated Gerald Chirinda.
“An entrepreneur is a doer,” said Velani Mboweni.
The day was jam packed with inspiring panel discussions that offered the diverse delegates great learning opportunities and inspirational direction. Many panellists’ words echoed the conference pillars of the elevation, connection, collaboration and establishment. “We should cultivate a culture of sharing ideas,” expressed Rabison Shumba | Motivational Speaker, Founder Greatness Factory Trust. You can’t just eat passion, you need to make a life out of your passion,” stated Dr Tobias Takavarasha| Agriculture and Food Security Advisor.
Break away working group discussions were also the highlight of the day as they provided the delegates with opportunities to explore even further what they had learnt from the panel discussions whilst also allowing them to explore four tracks essential to their growth and participation in making a difference in their world. The tracks comprised of a focus on Economic opportunity; Science, Technology and Innovation; Career Paths & Personal Development; and Leadership.
The last day of the conference, Saturday 22 July saw many more young people throng Celebration Centre hungry for more inspiration and enlightenment. The day saw Tommy Deuschle present on igniting creativity that makes a difference. “A great idea surrounded by negativity will not last as much as an average idea surrounded by trust and support,” shared Tommy. Tommy went on to highlight the need for the youth to use their ideas to make an impact in Zimbabwe. “If people’s dreams are centered on leaving the nation then our nation will be deprived of benefits from such ideas,” Tommy added.
The importance of young Africans being the future of Africa was centre stage in all panel discussions throughout the conference. Thato Mabudusha (Chief of Staff to the CEO for Discovery Vitality) highlighted the importance of young Africans in leveraging technology to drive change. “There is so much we can do as young Africans to share ideas using technology.” Speaking on the digital proliferation panel, Thato also expressed the importance of young people elevating themselves through learning.
“Young people need to expose themselves & learn,” stated Thato Mabudusha.
Gabriel Chipara a renowned financial expert also emphasised the need for the youths to be financially educated to be successful. “If you do not tell your money where to go when you earn it, you will not know where it’s gone when you earn it,” expressed Mr Chipara. “Lack of financial literacy has led to many dying poor and tenants”, he added.
To close off the amazing action packed conference, the founder of the Innovate Elevate Youth Conference, Ms Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa shared her vision for the conference and emphasised the importance of youths always seeking knowledge and learning opportunities that elevate. “Education is not confined to the walls of a classroom,” Tanya stated.
She went on further to stress the importance of young Africans using their education to make a difference and to leave a footprint in the world. Ms Masiyiwa celebrated the youths who came to the conference and expressed the conference being the start of an amazing journey of bigger and better Innovate Elevate Youth conferences.