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SA’s economic future is in professional hands

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JORDAN MOSHE

With this in mind, 50 young professionals got together for the Youth Economic Crowdstorming (YEC) Summit at the ORT centre in Houghton last Thursday to discuss ways to improve our economy.

They brought fresh perspectives and ideas to the forum, each with their own vision of a country with opportunities for people at every level of society.

Entrepreneurial maven Wandile Zulu guided the participants – from many different sectors of society – in identifying key economic problems and possible solutions.

Among the solutions discussed were: the exposure of students to a needs-based education system; formalising taxi transportation services; and moderating the rate of urbanisation in South Africa. The recurring theme was the need to challenge the status quo by championing ideas that are perhaps considered beyond the pale in order to make a difference. Only in this way, the participants stressed, could real change be effected in the future.

By the end of the afternoon, a stable foundation had been laid for future action. Said Zulu, “It is clear that issues surrounding education, government policy, and entrepreneurial opportunities have emerged as our areas of focus. But, this is not enough. Our aim is to be action-oriented, and we need input from young professionals across South Africa to turn this country around.”

“Laying blame on government will not help,” he said. “We all have the contacts we need to help us make a difference instead of apportioning blame. We need to do whatever we can in our areas of expertise.

“Mere discussion gets us nowhere. Young people want action fast, but need to understand that there is a process to follow. If we do this properly, change is certain.

“We need to ask ourselves the difficult questions, but commit ourselves to answering with solutions. Something is very wrong in our country, because we seem unable to suggest solutions despite constantly seeing problems. This needs to change.”

Ariellah Rosenberg, the Chief Executive of ORT SA, said, “Frequently, we find ourselves complaining and criticising our economy, crime levels, unemployment, and corruption. Being a leader is also about being proactive and finding solutions to the challenges in our environment. So often we work in silos, but this is a wonderful opportunity to work together.”

Hosted by ORT SA and held in association with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), the event included organisations such as Investec, Telkom, Africa VR, MIG Capital, the Black Management Forum, Unemployed Graduates, and Fedusa. Representatives of these organisations presented papers throughout the day, each of them devoted to a detailed analysis of a particular problem, and including the outline of a potential solution.

Through the SAJBD, Jewish entrepreneurs were also involved in the summit, proposing papers of their own, and discussing the various solutions proposed during the course of the day. Dan Brotman, Antony Seeff, and Amanda Blankfield-Koseff presented papers on their areas of expertise, showing how inroads can be made to areas such as education, immigration, and start-up ecosystems.

Participants agreed to meet again to put their solutions into practice.

“The goal is to take suggestions from the youth to government. We now leave it to the participants themselves to take this process forward. We look forward to holding more of these types of events to get young people talking about their future,” said Rosenberg.

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