Mai Khidir’s One Young World Experience
I represented Sudan at the One Young World Summit 2018, The Hague. My work as Founder of the Al Sudaniya Mentoring (ASM) Programme, an initiative established in 2013 that develops the personal and professional skills of young Sudanese women to become pioneering leaders of the future, was the reason for my selection as a delegate in this exceptional leadership development opportunity. In August 2018, I was selected to participate through the Enterprise for Peace Scholarship supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Summit connects over 1800 delegates from over 190 countries who are young change agents to develop solutions to challenging issues. Influential world leaders included Professor Muhammad Yunus, Mo Ibrahim, Bob Geldof, Tawakkol Karman, and Thuli Madonsela.
The Sessions/ Networking
Professor Muhammad Yunus’s words at the opening ceremony about being a “job creator rather than a job seeker” was incredibly powerful, and an interesting way of thinking about solving problems. As a social entrepreneur, you work to identify problems in your community and work to implement innovative solutions that can make a real impact and change lives. It made me realise the power of entrepreneurship, and how vital it is for people to challenge themselves to think outside the box in order to tackle real challenges. It was inspiring to hear from delegates that have overcome a multitude of struggles to become dynamic leaders and accomplish great things and at such a young age. The words of Kofi Annan have never been more true “you are never too young to lead, and never too old to learn”.
We heard from various projects that have changed the world such as initiatives to advocate for the rights of children, improving the livelihoods of women, promoting environmental sustainability through education and conservation. The work of these remarkable delegates opened my eyes to the impact that young leaders are having across the globe and it inspired me to drive more change through the ASM programme.
On the last day of the Summit, OYW Ambassador Olu Odubajo spoke about his experience and launching the KPMG Black Entrepreneur Awards, which is a key initiative to propel black entrepreneurs forward in an environment that isn’t always conducive to their development. I reflected on his moving speech, and how important self-belief is to achieving anything, as without it we cannot move forward in any facet of our lives.
“One young world believed in me, KPMG believed in me, my parents believed in me, so there was only one person left to believe in me, and that was myself” (Olu Odubajo, KPMG). Networking with a diverse range of individuals working on their own initiatives, in civil society, NGOs, and the corporate sector was something I had never experienced. I was able to make some great friends, that I am still in touch with and made some great contacts for ASM that are working on women’s empowerment, and education. The invaluable connections that I have made at the OYW summit are crucial to scaling up and developing ASM.
If there is one thing I have learnt during my time at OYW, it is that everyone has something to offer, and we all have a purpose. We must find out what we are passionate about and work hard to make our dreams a reality. You should never feel that you are being too ambitious with your ideas, and should not hold yourself back from what you feel is possible.
Being connected to world leaders and delegates from across the globe all working tirelessly in making the world a better place, one project at a time, was truly inspiring and a once in a lifetime experience that I will forever treasure.
I would encourage any young, driven individual, working on an impactful initiative, to apply for the 2019 OYW Summit in London.