I’ve been wanting to write about communities for ages, but have lacked the discipline to prioritise time to do so – even though this is one of my favourite passions in the world, and is a key driver around my own life.

And after receiving an unexpected mail from Sandbox-network; a community of amazing individuals around the world which I had been wanting to join for several years, it really made me reflect back and urged me to write something.

Why did receiving an email from a community I had only just joined evoke such a strong emotion? I feel it is because Sandbox-nework was a community I had aspired to be part of for a long time, and that it was a truly amazing community to be part of..or at least that was my perception of the community from the outside. And having now been part of it and seeing such a great sefl-organizer group of amazing minds work together as we transition into it\’s next phase reinforces those strong and positive attributes I associated with the community.

My communities

I’ve written before around the TEDx community and a couple of years later, I feel the exact same.

Below are my thoughts around the communities I’m involved with, and why I am part of them. Although, there seems to be a great overlap between members of each community, each is unique and has it’s own purpose and culture.

 

TEDx

Since: 2011
Why:

There is something truly magical about TEDx and I love it!

Many know TEDx for the events we host and the amazing ideas shared from the stage. But to me that is just one component of it’s true value. For me the most important aspect is the community of TEDx – the speakers, audience and my fellow TEDx organizers.

TED/TEDx has done something incredibly well, they’ve been able to distil and scale a brand and community that is focused on ideas that can positively impact the world. It is the neutral stance, openness and diversity of TEDx that creates this amazing space and culture. It successfully creates a space of vulnerability for open idea sharing..and this has resulted in a brand a community that has flourished around the globe.

It’s no wonder I dedicate so much time and energy to TEDxCapeTown, even though it puts serious pressure on my businesses and focus on other projects outside of TEDx.

It’s through TEDx that I have met the most amazing and interesting people I know. Whom I highly respect and learn greatly from (not sure most of them even know), so I\’ve listed some of them here..I think you could learn from them too!

James McBennet, Harald Katzenschlager, Bernelle Verster, Mike Markovina – I had written how and why these names are mentioned here, but this post got very long, very fast..so will keep that for another post 🙂

WEF Global Shapers, Cape Town Hub

Since: 2013
Why?

I am less interested in it’s association with the Wolrd Economic Forum WEF, as I have had my reservations around them..With time I have learnt more about WEF and see how it is a platform that can lead to impact, and can offer us, the youth, a loudspeaker to have our thoughts heard…but need to learn more to completely change my mind here.

As for the community, I value it’s diversity of the individuals within the hub. It’s also different to the others. It has a strong link to the World Economic Forum, and this was an exclusive network community launched by WEF and so their agenda continues onto the Global Shapers community. It is also unlike the absolute openness of TEDx, or the bottom-up approach and brand that is Sandbox-network HQ.

Beyond that, we were fortunate to have Rapelang Rabana as the curator, who did a truly phenomenal job at leading the Cape Town Hub as we got off the ground.

Young African Leaders Initiative , Washington Fellowship

Since: 2014
Why?

As with the WEF Global Shapers, I am less excited about a major brand or personality draw card they offer. In this instance, it is the opportunity to meet President Barrack Obama.

Rather, I am more keen on meeting, learning and engaging with fellow entrepreneurs and active individuals from across the African continent. An opportunity we seldom get to experience. Unlike the US and Europe it is exceedingly expensive to move around the African continent. And regardless of how many Google Hangouts and virtual meetings one has, nothing beats face time, and in-person relationship building – and this is the main driver behind why I applied to the YALI Washington Fellowship and why I am glad to be involved with the community. I now have the opportunity to meet, learn from and engage with phenomenal entrepreneurs from across the continent. And in doing so, developing strong personal relationships with my fellow community members, which will assist us as we start trading amongst each other and collaborating on projects in the future. How exciting!

The Sandbox-network HQ (we’re still working on this next phase)

Since: 2014
Why?

I first learnt about the Sandbox-network (SN) through the Swiss Venture Capitalist Camille Therre, back in 2010. A really smart and wonderful lady who had come out to South Africa to run a Bioentrepreneurship (entrepreneurship in Biotech sector) program I was selected into. After noting my passion for communities and helping others she suggested that I checkout SN. (Thanks Camille!)

*Note: just checked my mails again to check I never left out any details, and see that Camille once again connected me with other amazing minds, this time SN’er Kyra Maya Phillips..I really need to figure out how to better record and acknowledge these super-connectors!

On her wise words I reached out to the SN, but was told that they were not expanding into hubs in Africa yet, and rather focusing on Europe and the US and that they would be opening up to South Africa sometime in the future. Although this wasn\’t the answer I was wanting, it was great to see that SN had put some thought behind their growth plans and things were being done for a reason, rather than just trying to build a massive community. I liked that!

After that initial contact with SN I met some other amazing minds in the UK, Europe and US. I also attended one of my favourite community gatherings yet, the TEDx Summit in Doha. And I soon realised that a common connection between these amazing people was the Sandbox-Network. A consistent trait, which reinforced my interest in the network and aspirations to join the community. The founders and community behind the SN had clearly done something right here. Many people had been trying to replicate communities targeting similar groups, but somehow they got it right. That appealed to me!

To conclude. It’s the essence of what I’ve described above that made me love SN. A community of amazing individuals, part of something that began and grew from the ground up with the community. No set agenda, no clear deliverables..but rather a strong focus on the members within the community. The relationships and friendships between each other. Creating a space for vulnerability and learning and helping each other as each person goes on their own personal journey and fascinating path in life. To me that’s what a community should be about..that’s where the value lies!

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