Kenyan representatives join Future Leaders Connect for unforgettable experience

Future Leaders Connect Richard Branson
Richard Branson photo-bombs the Future Leaders Connect group shot. Photo: Twitter

This month, 50 representatives from 11 countries around the world selected by the British Council, including Kenyans Tim Kipchumba (Affordable housing), Lucy Radoli (Tackling global insecurity), Simon Ndirangu (Youth unemployment), Victoria Mwirichia (Education for marginalised communities), Simon Wanda (Quality higher education) and Christine Mwangi (Early childhood education), arrived in England to participate in this year’s ‘Future Leaders Connect’ programme.

Over ten intensive days, the programme took attendees from Cambridge University to London where they explored leadership, policy development, politics and more.

Future Leaders Connect
The Future Leaders Connect attendees outside Number 10 Downing Street. Photo: Twitter/BritishCouncilKenya

When the British Council launched this year’s Future Leaders Connect programme, they asked the 11,000 applicants, aged 18-34, what they thought were important leadership skills and what they saw as the most difficult and urgent problems facing the world.

Applicants from very different countries showed a striking level of agreement on the key policy challenges facing the world.

Across all applications, education, environmental sustainability and climate change, and youth opportunities ranked first, second and third place respectively after priorities were grouped into 29 themes.

Education and the environment were among the top three priorities of all but one of the nation’s taking part.

In Kenya, along with Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia, Youth opportunities were a top priority, reflecting of the demographics of these nations where the median population age is between 18 and 21 and where youth unemployment is proportionately higher than in other global regions.

Meeting The Elders

One of the highlights for participants was taking part in a unique event with The Elders, a group of world leaders who have formed a non-political, independent group to tackle pressing global issues.

Formed by Nelson Mandela, The Elders today includes Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-Moon and Graca Machel. A panel discussion was attended by five hundred people, including Richard Branson, and live streamed to a global audience of over 50,000.

Discussions included ways of achieving peace and harmony in the world by tackling issues such as climate change, corruption and job insecurity.

The following day, the attendees visited Parliament for a conference with politicians and New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, who shared his vision for the future and new book, Thank You For Being Late. Later that evening they were the guests of John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, at his residence in Westminster.

The programme culminated in a final morning at Ten Downing Street, where attendees shared their policy ideas with the Rt. Hon. Mark Fields, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

Speaking about the participants in this year’s programme in the Huffington Post, Cairan Devane, the Chief Executive of the British Council said: “I’ve met them and can only say how impressive they are. They give me hope that the world will be inherited by safe hands, cool heads and open hearts.”

Future Leaders Connect

Future Leaders Connect is where exceptional individuals (aged 18-35) from around the world join a long-term network of emerging policy leaders. Attendees develop their policy making expertise, make valuable connections and gain the skills to have real impact.

Together they discuss major global policy issues in the Houses of Parliament, engage with inspiring leaders, visit some of the UK’s leading global institutions and collaborate to produce innovative policy recommendations. In 2017 the British Council accepted applications from individuals based in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, UK and USA.

If you would like to take part in next year’s Future Leaders Connect, applications open in February and you can find out more by visiting the website.