In June 2017, UCT Mastercard Scholars Willie Machaira and Chido Hunda were invited to attend the 2017 Baobab Summit. The summit exposed the students to career preparedness coaching, collaborative workgroups and skill development lessons as well as creating a space for global MasterCard Scholars to network and connect with like-minded changemakers.
Getting to the summit was no easy feat and required some creativity in time management for the students. Chido, a 3rd year Social Work Student, was Initially hesitant to attend to the summit because she was writing exams that week, but after she came back she “realized that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. So I decided to look at it as an opportunity and just enjoy my time there as well as keep studying.”
While at the summit Chido, Willie and all other attendees I learned a lot about the inclusion of marginalized groups in education and the economy. Something which aligns closely with her Social Work studies. “In my mind, I always thought women, poor people were the only disadvantaged, but the conference opened up my mind about how disabled people are also marginalized and that has actually now become my focus and passion in my social work. So I was happy that when I went to the summit that I was able to meet other transformative people who had the same passions as me and who have started to do something in that arena and motivated me to start doing more as well.”
"At the Boabab Summit I was selected to go and represent the Ccholars' Council from UCT. And now I am also part of the Gobal Scholars Council of MCF which is something big for me!"
Willie, on the other hand, had a slightly different experience. Having been to 3 summits already. He found the Baobab application process the most competitive but he and his team managed to get in. “We interacted with a lot of people from all over the world. From Universities in Ghana, Canada, Mastercard Foundation staff. It was a great opportunity.”
Willie Machiara, 1st year BCom Computer Science Student (Nyeri, Kenya)
His group at the summit focuses on the issue of capital in social enterprise, which is something of a passion for him as he shared that “during the summit, I was chosen to be part of the social entrepreneurship group and in this group, we talked about a lot of things. We talked about capital, goals and so many other things. We looked at creating an effective team. We looked at managing capital and how it can be best used in social enterprise. Most significantly we found that the biggest challenge is not necessarily capital new businesses, but forming good, creative and motivated teams. People are the most important factor in a business, and we often forget about that.”
Watch the Baobab Summit Highlights video below
By 2023, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program aims to have enabled 30,000 talented students to study in Africa or around the globe as secondary or tertiary Scholars. This community of Scholars is committed to using their education to benefit others and intends to make a difference in the world. They are a generation of leaders with a lifelong commitment to social responsibility.