For Anza and Nnditshene, our last Youth Global Forum in Amsterdam became a very special event. Their project Bright Young Leaders Initiative won the Youth Time Idea Grant of 10,000 Eur in funding! Through quality education and innovations, BYLI empowers young students from the marginalized African communities to become change-makers within their community. In this interview with Youth Time Magazine, Anza and Nnditsheni talk about their project, inspirations, challenges and give a piece of advice for other ‘young leaders’ who strive to make a difference.
What were your first thoughts when the Bright Young Leader Initiative was announced as the winner of the 2019 Youth Time Idea Grant?
Winning the Idea grant was a huge surprise; however, for us as BYLI members, we had so many plans in mind after that achievement, but above all the one thing that we thought of was making BYLI a global organisation by using the means that Youth Time would be providing for us.
Could you describe BYLI to someone who has never heard of it?
BYLI is a non profit organization that was established by young people to empower young people. This organisation is focused mainly on STEM (Science, Mathematics, Technology and Engineering). We are living in the 4th industrial revolution, so STEM is a focus that puts us at the center of the action.
We empower students from disadvantaged communities to realise the value of education, and we also encourage them to get involved in problem solving relative to the 4th industrial revolution that we are currently in as a country. Students are also assisted with higher education funding so as to ensure that they obtain degrees and other qualifications. BYLI is also fully focused on addressing sustainable development goals.
Describe your experience of taking part in the Youth Global Forum in 3 words.
Life changing experience. Attending the YouthTime Forum was life changing and eye opening, not only for us but for the rural community here in South Africa. We realised the need to work smart so as to prepare for a future that seems to be filled with artificial intelligence.
What was your main takeaway from the Forum?
Our main takeaway from the Forum was to look at the future differently. The world is continuously growing, and things are changing, so we have to make wise decisions today and prepare for the future.
How did the grant benefit BYLI?
The Grant benefited BYLI in a great way because we were able to increase the number of students entering our science challenge competition as well as getting a nicer venue for them as compared to the previous year. Every program that BYLI is planning to host this year will be bigger and greater because of the Idea grant funds.
What is your main focus at BYLI at the moment?
Currently, we had a Science and innovation challenge planned for this month, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were forced to cancel the events and follow all the precautionary measures to stay safe.
What was your main motivation in starting the initiative?
In South Africa we have free education, but the quality that comes free of cost is not sufficient to make students realise the absolute value of education, so this was our main motivation in starting BYLI. We want to see a difference in the quality of education received by students from marginalized communities. If rural learners are not motivated to go beyond what they see, the world will never change.
Describe the changes your project has already brought to the community in South Africa?
We have seen students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had no funds to pursue their education move from a place of where they had to means to a place where they could achieve their goals, all because of BYLI. Students from rural communities are now focused on the bigger picture because of the various programs that we host yearly. We’ve seen an increase in the matric pass rate in our province since we’ve started this organisation.
What advice would you give to young social entrepreneurs out there who are considering launching their own startup?
Our advice to anyone who wants to be a young social entrepreneur is to start now. There’s no better time to initiate a project, because community needs only get worse with time. But if we get more young social entrepreneurs now the future will be brighter. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.
Photos: Bright Young Leaders Initiative FB page