But that’s not really the point. It’s the bigger story of all these beautiful people in the shot that matters.
The larger picture tells a better story. A story of collaboration. Of passion. Of a call to service. Of integrity. And of commitment.
From diverse backgrounds, these six change-makers have just spent a week in Geneva, essentially learning how to be better and more impactful leaders. But they weren’t alone.
Over 450 people like them from 169 countries were there as the World Economic Forum hosted the 2015 edition of the Annual Curators Meeting.
“It’s been an incredible experience on a personal and group level. And these experiences always leave me feeling a bit more determined to make my locale a better place,” said Yawa Hansen-Quao, one of the Ghanaians there.
“My time at the Annual Curators Meeting for the Global Shapers has restored my faith in what is possible for this world when we come together for a higher purpose and a bigger cause with shared common values,” noted Bradley Morris, from the Victoria-BC Hub in Canada.
So, what (or who) is a Global Shaper?
Ciprian Stanescu from Bucharest, tries to explain. “I realize, every day, that it is what we do that makes us who we are, not definitions. It is in our DNA to fight, build, connect and inspire. I’ve seen cities rebuilt, countries breathing the air of freedom and improbable technological innovation created by Shapers.”
In summary, Shapers are changemakers who – because of their academic and experiential backgrounds – will very likely become the leaders of the various fields.
The Global Shapers initiative works like this: young people in a geographical area (usually a city or town) come together and form a hub. They are led by a curator, whose tenure of office is one year.
Every year, the newly-elected curators attend a week-long boot camp in the Swiss city to strategize for the coming 12 months. And that’s why the six Ghanaians were there.
Here’s who they are:
- Abdul-Latif Issahaku, Curator of the Tamale Hub. A man fascinated about innovations in the technology space, he’s worked with Huawei and now with MTN, primarily on services. His pride and joy is the recognised MTN Apps Challenge, which started in 2013.
- Daniel Owusu, Curator of the Cape Coast Hub. Author of five books, his background is in Mathematics and Economics with computing, but his areas of interest are youth and community development, education, leadership, social entrepreneurship and women empowerment. Daniel’s mission statement is to transform lives and inspire change in Africa.
- Gary Al-Smith, Curator of the Accra Hub. A broadcaster with considerable presence in African sport on the global news scene. He’s focused on social change through media work, as evidenced in his output for the New York Times, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, SuperSport, among others. His involvement with the Global Shapers and World Economic Forum goes back four years.
- Rosalin Kyere-Nartey, Curator of the Kumasi Hub. With over five years experience in the hospitality and the tourism sector, she produces, presents and manages the implementation of innovative hospitality and tourism business solutions and services. On Twitter: @rosalinkyere
- Tsonam Cleanse Akpaloo, Curator of the Ho Hub. CEO of Techcom Visions, the young man has his hands in many pies across Africa, including ECOWAS E-commerce, Africa 2.0 and social entrepreneurship activities.
- Yawa Hansen-Quao, an Accra Hub member who was there also in her capacity as a member of the Global Shapers Foundation Board. She heads the Leading Ladies’ Network, a fast-rising group that supports women through programs and resources that enhance their development as leaders.
Throughout the week, these six ambitious Ghanaians made contributions to the wider Shaper community. And, along the way, the world renowned thinker Professor Klaus Schwab gave them tips on how maximize their obvious potential and existing change works.
“World leaders, business schools and prestigious groups pay top dollar for the good professor’s time. And here he was, speaking to us multiple times for free! Simply humbling,” said Accra Hub’s Al-Smith.
Professor Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, is a man of many things and many subjects, and his lectures showcased a range of thought leadership topics.
Youth unemployment. Climate change. The future of the internet. Gender parity. Development economics. He touched on all these.
And for the five Ghanaians, it was the last one – development economics – that was particularly intesting, given the peculiar developmental challanges Ghana faces at the moment.
Rosalin of the Kumasi Hub picked up valuable lessons: “The sessions were very informative and my personal bars have been raised by the quality of interaction I got in Geneva. I am comforted in the knowledge that in wanting to change my surroundings, there are many people out there like me.”
Tsonam of the Ho Hub said: “It is fantastic that we have this oppurtunity to be exposed. I know I’m returning to Ghana with a lot of ideas for the Ho township.”
He will not be the only one.
The hundreds of Global Shapers who attended the Swiss retreat are aged between 20 and 30, and – in addition to soaking in top professional advice – they presented the projects run in their local communities as well. The meeting offered an opportunity for feedback and advice on these projects by a global community of peers as well as Forum experts.
“You must understand that for me this was a bit new,” said Abdul-Latif, of the newly founded Tamale Hub. “I needed to know how others had mobilized youth to do some of the stuff I was seeing so that I could adapt a model for Tamale and its environs.”
The six days of workshops, from August 12-18, helped curators like Abdul-Latif kick-start their dreams.
Young people are greatly under-represented in global affairs, even though they make up 50% of the world’s population. As innovators, digital natives and those most impacted by today’s policy decisions, they deserve a seat at the table.
The Global Shapers embody the “community of the future”, bringing together young people in a diverse, decentralized and digitally hyperconnected way.
“It’s easy to see going to Switzerland for this boot camp from the glitzy point of view. But it was serious business and the real work is in your various communties and locales,” summed up Chidiogo Akunyili, Community Manager for Africa.
The Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and is independent, neutral, non-political and not for profit.
But most important for all the six Shapers is one fact: in seeking change, we are not alone.