We have come a long way with our young democracy and if you are a sceptic, there would be more than enough around you to convince you that our nation is on a downward spiral. It's in times like these that sceptics either flee or desperately start searching across the oceans for answers to our complex situation.
The In Good Company Conference 2017 was nothing like that. It was a conference of hope with deep and honest reflection, robust conversations and a unified and passionate search for answers from within. We actually don't have to look abroad as we have learnt many lessons of our own - in fact, on such a scale that we can guide and inspire others on the same journey moving from a broken past to a hopeful future.
For once I attended a conference that was courageous, to say the least. There was a wide spectrum of excellent speakers with opposing perspectives who held nothing back. Shaping a hopeful future requires an inclusive approach and the conference succeeded in convening speakers from a wide spectrum of socio-economic, age, race and political backgrounds. The conversations were robust, thought provoking and challenging.
The one big take-out from this conference was that we need more of these honest and robust conversations. We can build a future when we learn to listen to one another and when we realise that even when we differ, we can still build together. We need all the different perspectives to build hope in a complex context - we each carry a strategic piece of the truth and it all becomes beautiful when we are able to share our piece of the truth to complete the picture. It is a challenging and messy process, but extremely powerful and inspiring when we realise that we are all focused on one goal.
This process is impossible without collaboration, and the conference underlined the desperate need for strategic collaboration between government, the non-profit/faith community and business. When civil alliance and government become partners in building a future for all in a nation and keep one another accountable without feeling threatened, that nation can only excel and provide a bright future for all, especially those on the fringes of society.
In this regard the conference was underpinned by a golden thread: Hope is about connecting people to opportunities. Inspiring testimonies from those who benefitted from opportunities that were created underlined the fact that there is enough potential on all levels of our society to build a better life for all. Apart from the entrepreneurial spirit there is an amazing level of positivity and resilience in our nation. If government and civil alliances can co-create opportunities and focus on long term investments rather than quick-fix solutions, we WILL see a different SA in the next 23 years of democracy.
The In Good Company Conference 2017 set the standard for future engagement on building a great SA for all. I'm inspired and committed to lay down personal agendas and ideas for the greater good, to have an open eye for partnerships and to strive to create opportunities. Yes, this nation has it all and the world can indeed learn from us.
Piek, the South African regional manager of the Mergon foundation, attended the 2017 In Good Company Conference hosted by Nation Builder in Pretoria.