4 June 2015
A tangible outcome of the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa was an agreement that the National Youth Development Agency would partner with the Mara Foundation to run the online mentorship scheme, Mara Mentor.
The WEF on Africa is taking place in Cape Town. It ends on 5 June.
The agreement was made with the founder and chairperson of the Mara Foundation, Ashish Thakkar, who spoke to President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of the WEF on Africa about the innovative Mara Mentor online Mentoring Platform. It will provide mentorships to young South African entrepreneurs.
The mentoring platform is an initiative of Brand South Africa, which initially linked up the foundation with The Presidency at the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, in January. It will be officially launched on 16 June, Youth Day, and will offer mentorships over a web platform as well as on mobile applications.
Young people will be able to ask business leaders questions and seek advice on business issues.
“Top business leaders in South Africa, including chairpersons and chief executives of companies, are already being asked to sign up as mentors for the South African youth to be able to provide them with support. The youth will be able to register as mentees at one of [the National Youth Development Agency’s] 14 offices countrywide,” said The Presidency.
Mara Mentor has been successfully launched in six African countries to date. The e- platform has over 600 000 active entrepreneurs across 30 African countries with whom young people can interact.
Brand South Africa chairperson Chichi Maponya said the programme was part of the agency’s initiative of not only promoting South Africa as an attractive business destination but also finding opportunities for socio-economic development for the country abroad.
“We believe that it has the potential to empower thousands of young people who want to start up businesses or who are already in business. It also provides an opportunity for business leaders in the country to plough back by supporting youth development and empowerment.”
South Africa is participating in a range of programmes at the WEF on Africa today, the second day of gathering.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane is participating in a session on The Future of Water, while Tourism Minister Derick Hanekom is taking part in a session on Unlocking Africa. Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi is participating in a session focusing on mining in Africa. The 25th WEF on Africa opened yesterday, with the theme “Then and now: reimagining Africa’s future”.
Team South Africa was well represented on the first day of WEF Africa and emphasised that South Africa was open for business on all platforms, according to acting cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams. The day began with Minister in the Presidency Minister Radebe participating, together with Ghanaian minister of foreign affairs Hanna Tetteh, in an interactive discussion on how competitive African nation brands could contribute to advancing the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
“Both ministers and the participants at large concluded the discussions saying that the time has come for African countries to implement policies which will contribute to changing the socio-economic conditions on our continent. There was also a resounding call that Agenda 2063 must be brought to life through the implementation of national policies that support the pillars for growth and development,” said Williams.
These included social issues like health, education and food security as well as infrastructure development. South Africa was committed to infrastructure development on the continent, and the country held the chairmanship of the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa.
It was focused on facilitating road, rail and air connectivity between countries on the continent, which would contribute to Africa’s integration, ease movement of people, goods and services throughout the continent as well as the continent’s ability to attract inward flows of investment.
South Africa also hosted a welcome reception for WEF delegates, at which Hanekom reiterated that the country was open to all visitors and investors, while offering a range of diverse experiences that would cater for all visitors.
President Jacob Zuma hosted a meeting of the Business Interaction Group, at which he said his government was committed to creating an enabling legislative and policy environment for business to create jobs and grow the economy.
“As with similar engagements in the run up to WEF Africa 2015, there has been a willingness of both government and the private sector to work together to drive South Africa’s growth and development,” Williams said.