2020 Baobab Summit – Day 1


Mastercard Foundation Scholars, Sandra Kalua and Mahmoud Kanso, as well as Mastercard Foundation Scholar Alumni, Joseph Yaw Akyin, are reporting from this year’s Baobab Summit, highlights from each day. You can also follow along on our Facebook and Instagram channels where they will be sharing their thoughts and experiences at #Baobab2020.

Mahmoud Kanso from AUB reporting from #Baobab2020: The Summit kicks start with a super large group of enthusiastic #MCFScholars from all parts of the world. Ashley Collier has wonderfully started assigning #MCFScholars to different breakout rooms to start connecting with each other through enriching discussions. On the Zoom white board, participants have checked in their locations, and it seems #Baobab2020 is beautifully connecting people through the net.

On Zoom, Scholars share where they are connecting from in the first ever Virtual Baobab Summit.

Plenary Session: Resilience is a Marathon Not a Sprint

Gogontlejang Phaladi moderated a session with Foundation President and CEO, Reeta Roy, and Olympic champion and long-distance runner, Eliud Kipchoge as they discuss their journeys and #resilience.

Both Reeta and Eliud shared personal stories of growth and resilience, and answered questions about balance, fear, and advice they would give their 18-year-old selves. When asked how to go about training for a marathon, Kipchoge, arguably the world’s best long distance runner, answered, “Start by walking!”

Watch the full session.

Some additional highlights from Joseph on Twitter:



Breakout Session: Well-Being

Reporting from Mahmoud Kanso:  Fully present. Commit to networking. Listen objectively. Full participation. Reflect. Learn something new about myself.

These were the commitments attendees of breakout session on well-being and facilitated by Julie Waiganjo shared. In this beautifully given session, four Speak Your Mind winners shared their personal stories on well-being for a discussion on its role on being more resilient and moving forward in life with purpose.

Shared by Mastercard Foundation Scholar, Funwako Bakhile Dlamini

“Being in the process of challenge can contribute to emerging stronger. I see resilience as an outcome. After everything has happened we get out resilient. I won’t be resilient on my own. We need each other. As much as I build resilience, I try to get supporting systems. After challenges get, we adjust, adapt, and get more resilient.”

“Purpose is in the very small things of life, whether family or friends.”

“Being resilient does not mean we cannot be vulnerable.”

From Mastercard Foundation Scholar and Speak Your Mind winner, Shufaa Hame:

“Poetry is my therapy. Whenever I got so many things in my mind I just set down and get everything out in the form of a poem”

The shade of resilience

A hopeful sight after the tears have dried

When the gray days have clouded your vision.

When it seems like you are on a purposeless mission

When your consciousness sings back the song of your fate


You were meant to be here

This is not the end

You are just getting started

The end will make sense of the journey.

Breakout Session: Inclusivity

From session moderator, Gogontlejang Phaladi:

“Meet resistance with persistence. This is one of the important things we need to have as young people. Persistence. We may try out something and it doesn’t work out the first or second time and we give up, thinking this is a lost cause so I’m going to focus on something else, this is the biggest challenge we face when there is adversity.  If we can carry on, if we can still be persistent. This is where resilience come in.”

“It’s important that we as young people we turn every challenge that we face into an opportunity to change the narrative around us. We use every pain that we experience and turn it into power that amplifies us and use as a springboard into what we want to be.”

“As activists, we tend to just want to have a conversations with the people that agree with us and that is deeply problematic. If you want to change policy, a mindsets or a narrative in society, you need to engage with the people that don’t’ agree with you. The people who are completely against you need them to achieve what you want to realize. When we talking about ending gender based violence, ending harmful cultural practices, yes these things are often perpetuated by custodians of culture but you need these custodians to be part of that change, that transformation.”

Breakout Session: Entrepreneurship

The highs, lows, and learning from past Social Venture Challenge winners


  • Wandile Mthiyane
  • Allen Kenduga
  • Jennipher Alista Panashe

Moderator: Ashley Collier

From Allen:

“Your team will follow your tone. You set the tone for the rest of the team, by saying these are the priorities, these are the deliverables. People are incentivized by what they are accomplishing, maybe more so than money. Let people know what your expectations are, make deliverables clear and it will make them feel good that work is getting done.”

Allen’s secret to success:

“Stick around, stay alive, pivot quickly.”

When asked: How has resiliency shown up in your life? How do you consider yourself resilient?

Jennipher shared:

“Staying focused on the aim. The COVID era has taught on me to stay focused on what I want to do. The road is not perfect not straight there might be different avenues I might take, but where do I want to reach? Knowing your destination helps you get you plans aligned. Continuous learning. You have to be a person that learns continuously. You must have a growth mindset. Be prepared to adapt for uncertain situations. How are you preparing for the next COVID? We are experiencing this for us to learn to be stronger, for when this time comes again. What lessons are you learning?

From Wandile:

“The biggest advantage that I have is that I’m able to fail and go to sleep and wake up the next day and be willing to try. Failure isn’t you. You failed on something, now how can you make it better. Its one thing for others to give up on you, but the worst thing you can do is give up on yourself.”

Breakout Session: Leadership

Panelist Chika Stacy Oriuwa shares her thoughts on resilience:

#Baobab2020 Day One Round-Up

Sandra Kalua provides a summary and her thoughts from Day One.