Anza Tshipetane is the founder and chief executive of the Bright Young Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit organisation founded to empower young people from disadvantaged communities. Its aim is to help them to realise their qualities and their ability to become changemakers in their communities.
Tshipetane’s organisation also aims to expose young people to different areas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem). Winners of the initiative’s Science and Innovation Challenge receive sponsorships to attend the London International Youth Science Forum, as well as the BYLI Rural School Innovation Camp, which is run in collaboration with the University of Venda.
“When I started my journey as a ‘stempreneur’ I did not expect the level of enthusiasm that I received from my students. I started a small science club that would help a few students,” Tshipetane says. “Two years later, I still receive messages from students saying that BYLI’s camps and science competitions have opened their eyes to a world of possibilities.”
For most people, focusing solely on medical studies would be a sufficient step to enacting change in the future, but Tshipetane is not one to wait, saying, “I want to see minorities represented in science across its spectrum.
“I am not only fighting to secure spaces for people like me, but to build scientists of an international calibre; individuals with the strength and skills to shut the mouths of those who speculate that Africans are not the best scientists and do not deserve a seat at the table.”
As for her message to young people, Tshipetane is all about paying it forward. “If you want to be a pioneer, a first-generation something, once you have made it look back and show others how you did it,” she says. “Let your successes, no matter how small, ripple to those around you. Because the greatest people are not remembered for how much they received and accumulated, but how many lives they touched by giving both tangible and intangible treasures.”