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Nine Young Leaders Reflect on 2015 Skoll World Forum

The MasterCard Foundation and Skoll Foundation brought nine young leaders from nine countries to Oxford for the 2015 Skoll World Forum. They came to share their experiences, present their ideas on panel discussions, network with other social entrepreneurs and further develop their leadership skills. In this series they reflect on their experiences at the Forum. Also: watch a video about the young leaders. 


“As Global Citizens We Have To Take Action Now Rather Than Wait”

“As Global Citizens We Have To Take Action Now Rather Than Wait”

Isaac Jonas

Co-Founder Executive Director , Impact Africa Trust

June 10, 2015 | 3933 views

This past year, I went to England to attend the Skoll World Forum. My experience at the Forum can be summed up as a rare, life changing experience. The first day I arrived, together with my fellow young leaders, we were taken around Oxford University. I couldn’t have been inspired more as I saw the rooms where famous economists like Adam Smith studied and lived.

As though that was not enough, there I was, in one of the Forum workshops, when I looked to the right and saw a managing director of a very large, global organization I had never dreamt of ever meeting. To my left, I noticed more executives from organizations that I had been excited to know more about. They were all around me!

I quickly realized this was a serious place, where high profile people come to exchange ideas. This challenged me to embrace the fear and reality of introducing myself to them. Needless to say, I did my best and I look forward to the impact those meetings will make going forward!

The open-heart of every delegate I met challenged me, and I realized that my contribution to global development is meaningful. I learned so much during the conversations I had with nearly everyone I met. We discussed wide-ranging issues from water problems, climate change and the difficulty of access to education. I realized that throughout the world, many people are doing something positive to contribute to these global problems.

During the Plenary sessions, there were renowned global leaders like Jeff Skoll, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Graça Machel. The message I received from them included the profound notion that we are all living on one earth. As global citizens we have to take action now rather than wait. The aspect of never giving up in life was reiterated by Mama Graça Machel, who said she won’t give up until every girl child goes to school. Such energy is what I wanted. I told myself, “Yes! I am going to accelerate my resolve to make a positive change.”

The Forum also afforded me an opportunity to meet up with staff for The MasterCard Foundation Scholarship program and I received further inspiration from the people who are empowering the next generation of young leaders for Africa.

In Zimbabwe, where I come from, the challenge for young people is the disconnect between opportunities and talent and in some cases, the lack of any economic opportunities for young people at all. The Forum enabled me to connect and accelerate my learning about how to solve these problems. I learned problems are the same from one continent to the next. How we work on them may be different, but pollution is the same whether in New Delhi or Harare.

Going forward, I believe I will tap into the connections I made at the Forum. I will use my contacts to accelerate positive change on the ground, on an ongoing basis.

I couldn’t ask for any better experience and any more inspiration than this experience. Thanks to the Skoll Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation. To be able to meet and connect with so many change makers from across the globe is a rare, lifetime opportunity I will forever cherish!


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