Youth ‘active change-makers’ in country

Delegates engage with Brand SA representatives at the workshop at MAMA Seafood & Grill last week.

Constructive dialogue about the country’s future was the order of the day as Brand South Africa held an information workshop in the Hout Bay harbour precinct last week.

The organisation was established in 2002 to create a positive brand image for the country, and through its Play Your Part initiative is encouraging all South Africans to contribute to positive change.

The event, held at MAMA Seafood & Grill on Thursday October 18, was a collaboration between Brand SA and Hout Bay youth leaders Peter Michaels and Fidel Meter.

Delegates included representatives from the tourism industry and non-profits.

A significant emphasis was placed on the role of youth in bringing about change in the country, and Brand SA’s Imraan Christian, a former Fees Must Fall leader, explained how the movement deserved more credit for altering the status quo.

“Because of Fees Must Fall, we now have more youths accessing free tertiary education, and that should be acknowledged,” he said.

While all agreed with Mr Christian’s sentiments, there were concerns that the younger generation was too quick to ignore South Africa’s troubled past, instead choosing to focus on their own immediate challenges.

“You shouldn’t treat the past like it’s a piece of glass. It needs to be discussed,” one woman said.

Brand SA’s Toni Gumede believed people in the country needed to see the youth as “active change-makers”.

“You used to describe big transport companies as those which had big fleets, but today, the biggest transport companies have no vehicles of their own. Just look at Uber. The youth have disrupted old systems. We need to have more faith in our youth, because often they don’t have faith in themselves,” she said.

She said the intention of Brand SA was not simply to make the country sound good. “The fact is South Africa is good, so we need to share the good stories.”

An interesting presentation was made by David Shields, of the Going the Extra Mile (GEM) project, a mobile payment platform to reward social action in South Africa.

“What we have attempted to do is foster better connections between those who are more privileged and those on the other side of the tracks. When we started, we got in touch with people who
had orphanages and welfare organisations, and worked with them in establishing playing fields, for example. What we noticed,
however, was then when we returned to these organisations their resources had dried up,” Mr Shields said.

“So we thought if we are going to mobilise people around organisations, what would be the best way to do this. It struck us that if people are going to mobilise, then they will need a small incentive. The reality is that if you are a person who is struggling to put food on the table, you are not going to be thinking about other people.”

Mr Shields and his co-founders then had the idea of creating a mobile platform that allows people to access “do-good” events in their specific area.

“Basically, GEM gives people an outlet to do good in their community. When people do good, they are rewarded with gems which can be used to buy digital rewards like data or movie tickets. GEM Pay also allows users to withdraw and deposit money using only their cellphone number, which is of benefit to people who don’t have bank cards.”

The GEM project has partnered with Brand SA, and currently it has 12 000 active users.