Shalisha Samuel at Day 1 of the OYW Plenary Sessions
By Caribbean News Now contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- Vincentian Shalisha Samuel represented St Vincent and the Grenadines at the fourth One Young World Youth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, from October 2 to 6 through the All Bar None Scholarship and on her return shared her experience with regional youth, especially young entrepreneurs.
The summit offered entrepreneurs and social movers ages 18 to 30 a platform to share solutions and to network.
The pioneering young leaders made presentations and engaged in discussions on various themes ranging from education to social business, human rights and sustainable development.
Every Caribbean country was represented, which added to the 190 countries in attendance, with approximately 1300 delegates and returning ambassadors.
Past counsellors included former US president Bill Clinton and, this year, the calibre remained high with Kofi Annan, Arianna Huffington, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Sir Richard Branson, Anthony Jenkins (chief executive of Barclays Bank) Paul Polman (Global CEO of Unilever) and 36 other prominent business and social leaders.
The counsellors made speeches, served as mentors to assigned delegate speakers and answered delegates’ questions from the floor.
“The most impactful delegate presentation for me was made by James Eder, who found a solution to youth unemployment,” Shalisha said.
At 22, James co-founded studentbeans.com with his brother. The site now boasts over 1.3 million users, 2.5 million visitors per month, a staff of almost 40 and 20 new vacancies.
How does one grow from their small beginnings to burgeoning and ever growing success? Through failure! Eder advised delegates to redefine success to include failure.
He credited The Naked Leader
as the book that gave him the courage to welcome mistakes.
According to Eder, ideas never turn into business or capital due to our fear of failing.
“Life is not a rehearsal!” he said.
There were breakout sessions on special topics both at the convention centre and in the Johannesburg area.
Shalisha said that the summit was inspiring but also instilled a call for action. An oath was made between the delegates and business leaders at the summit for more responsible, responsive and inclusive business, in other words, moving beyond business as usual.
In a recent interview with Caribbean News Now
following her return from Johannesburg, Shalisha explained that the summit emphasised that we live in a global community and that things that happen in other countries also affect us in the Caribbean.
"Unfortunately, we frequently operate in a myopic manner, especially in a business setting," she said.
When asked about the negative connotation that is often attached to the concept of globalisation, she said that it was not necessarily a negative word.
“For us in the Caribbean, globalisation means more markets and more customers,” she explained.
However, to benefit from those increased market opportunities, Shalisha encouraged Caribbean businesses to build global relationships and rapport.
Too often, she suggested, regional entrepreneurs are afraid of failure in dealing with unfamiliar languages and culture.
“We can minimise those risks by building relationships and trust,” she said.
Shalisha reported that one intriguing feature of the One Young World Summit was the concept of social business or social entrepreneurship, which she described as people-focused, utilising principles that uplift employees.
“I encourage you to visit www.oneyoungworld.com
to read the oath and view speeches including the opening and closing ceremonies from the summit. You will find the closing speech by the summit’s surprise guest Winnie Mandela,” she said.
If you own a business or run a social enterprise, expand your network by connecting with the ambassadors on the One Young World website,” Shalisha added.
“Representation from our country and the wider region must increase for us to gain opportunities to sit at the decision making table. Being a decision maker allows us each to have a greater global impact,” Shalisha said.
She pointed out that too many delegates said it was the first time they had either heard of St Vincent and the Grenadines or met someone from the country, while two delegates asked if it was a country.
“There is no limit to the number of Vincentian delegates. Start planning now to be a Vincentian representative in Dublin, Ireland, from October 15 to 19, 2014,” Shalisha continued.
Funding is available through the All Bar None Scholarship, competitions and corporate sponsorship.
“I look forward to being part of the Vincentian delegation with you in Dublin next year!” she said.
In the meantime, Shalisha is continuing her law studies with the University of London and is also working on funding for a new programme to provide bursaries for young people in service to the global community.
Pictures from the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg: