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South Africa’s top 20 millennials shine at the 9th Serious Social Investing Conference

20 of South Africa’s top youth leaders  took to the stage at this year’s Serious Social Investing Conference held on 29 May, held at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, to share their insights on how to tackle social development issues in South Africa. Each speaker captivated the audience by delivering  a 20 minute presentation on what they were doing to resolve issues in the country ranging from renewable energy, to unemployment to early childhood development and even shortfalls in leadership.

Hosted by Tshikululu Social Investments and the FirstRand Foundation, the conference sought to look at how the youth were addressing social challenges in South Africa.

“Tshikululu Social Investments has been delivering on social investment for the past 20 years. Building on solid experience through fresh approaches and strategic innovation has been one of Tshikululu’s strengths since inception. It has been a profound experience today to see how the youth are mobilising to address persistent issues in our society using unconventional solutions.“ said Tracey Henry, CEO of Tshikululu.

Some of the speakers included:

Zulaikha Patel: The 15-year-old who led the protest against hair policies at Pretoria Girls’ High School just over 2 years ago, and has since become a global icon advocating for women’s rights and African identity. Zulaikha’s talk focused on what changes needed to be made in education to break down cultural perceptions held by teachers.

Dr Sandile Kubheka: A practising doctor at the age of 20,, the gifted Kubheka is the youngest doctor in South Africa. He discussed the gap that exists between private and public healthcare, and the challenges of providing healthcare to South Africa’s geographically dispersed populations. Earlier this year, Sandile was voted the 4thmost influential South African of 2018.

18-year Trevor Lwere: A Ugandan student from the African Leadership Academy, Trevor presented on African democracy being undermined by world financial bodies and multinational corporations. Trevor also talked about the urgent need to groom the next generation of African leaders, noting that “Only 6% of African students have access to post-secondary education. It’s a scary reality given that the average age in Africa is 17-18 years. Will future leaders be educated to deal with the problems at hand?”

Research Professor at the University of Stellenbosh, Dr Nic Spaull focused on early childhood schooling, stressing that the system is failing children at the first hurdle and that all subsequent problems in a child’s school life is a direct result of leapfrogging early childhood literacy. Spaull identifies the fact that “78% of students cannot read with meaning by grade 4 and this is the key binding constraint in South Africa’s education.”

Other notable speakers include academic and author, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, researcher Ayanda Charlie and digital entrepreneur, Allan van der Mullen.


“Learning about how respective young people and organizations are taking it upon themselves to take social investment seriously in their daily activities has been a remarkable experience. This is one the best conferences I have been too. The content was energising, impactful and authentic.  All 20 of today’s speakers were absolutely brilliant!” says Beth van Heerden, Executive of Arts & Culture at FirstRand Foundation.


The Serious Social Investing Conference was organised by content giants Creative Space Media and brought to you by Tshikululu Social Investments in partnership with FirstRand Foundation.


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