We were all privy to GauTv and Studio Independent’s live streaming of the annual “Mzansi’s Top 100 Leaders of 2017” awards ceremony, held at the exclusive Houghton Golf club in Johannesburg.

The excitement was palpable as the 15 category winners of 2017 were announced.

Congratulations again, to the Top 100 of 2017.

Keep on inspiring!

The winners of The Young Independents Top 100 Award were recognised in five categories namely; the disruptors, the healers, the influencers, the innovators and the trailblazers.

The disruptors: Recognising young people challenging the status quo or traditional thinking with their unconventional ideas and actions.

The healers: Young medical practitioners and educators, involved with environmental work such as recycling, and NGO workers.

The influencers: Recognising young people who are influencing the actions and behaviours of brands, policies and people, and this includes government leaders, trendsetters, social media gurus, and critics.

The innovators: Celebrates young people inventing new products, and business ideas or services that are changing the way we live, work and play; this includes young people driving business or technology, scientists, architects, and chefs.

The trailblazers: Recognises young people leading their field at local, national, and international levels. These include top sports stars, academics, scientists, and business leaders.

Here’s a compilation of inspiring quotes from our Top 100 of 2017 to keep you going this week:

1. Disruptor, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer

“If I weren’t doing this, I’d likely be dead, on heroine or homeless. I couldn’t survive any other way. Imagining up worlds is all I’m good for.”

Sibs Shongwe-La Mer lives by the words “give it all, no drop spared”.

Words that also account for this 25-year-old’s daily pursuit to make his entire life about art. His creative pilgrimage meandered through prep school plays and dreams of becoming a stage director.

His 2015 film, Necktie Youth – an uncomfortably honest glimpse at the lives of the (mostly overlooked) affluent, born-free generation – won the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Amsterdam Film Festival, 2015).

It also won Best Director and Best SA Feature Film (Durban International Film Festival, 2015) and the TV5 Award (Carthage Film Festival, 2015).

2. Disruptor, Dr Anastacia Tomson

“The hardest lesson I have learnt is that life isn’t always fair or just.”

Anastacia Tomson, 31, embarked on four journeys to get to where she is today. The first was to study medicine, the
second to transition from male to female, the third to write about it, and the fourth to fight for it.

Today, these four journeys are perfectly interwoven in the daily fabric of Tomson’s life as a medical doctor, author, and transgender activist.

3. Disruptor, Naadiya Moosajee

“When life is not fair, get over it.”

As a female engineer, Naadiya Moosajee often encountered discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and was even cyber-stalked by a colleague.

Determined to turn things around, she and her friend, fellow engineer Hema Vallabh, hosted a conference showcasing the technical excellence of women under the banner, SA WomEng.

More than a decade later, the group is a global force, instrumental in developing strong female engineering talent pipelines.

4. Innovator, Paseka Lesolang 

“The best advice I’ve ever been given was take care of your business and the business will take care of you.”

Lesolang’s company is at the centre of South Africa’s green economy. Among other achievements, his product was endorsed as a smart solution by Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal in 2009. In 2010, Lesolang was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Pretoria, and WHC was selected as one of 15 delegate companies at the 2010 Shanghai EXPO.

Lesolang also won first prize in the City of Johannesburg’s Green City Startup Awards in 2015, winning R1-million for his innovation – Leak-Less Valve™.

5. Innovator, Nthabeleng Likotsi 

“I live by the words: God will never give me what I can’t handle.”

In 2009, Likotsi founded the Young Women in Business Network Holdings (YWBN), a broad-based investment company owned, controlled and managed by women.

Seven years later, YWBN has 271 members and R2 million capital – a solid grounding for building a financial empire.

6. Innovator, Dave Blakey 

“If you want to succeed, you need to adapt, see what’s happening, and adapt.”

From a young age, Blakey has been all about business. He received his A+ computer technician certification at age 11, and became a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert by 13, all the while learning about business from his father.

Snapt was initially aimed at SMEs, but that soon changed when NASA phoned to place an order.

Today he is the founder of Snapt- a software load balancer, web accelerator and application firewall. This company competes against the giants in the world of computer science.

7. Trailblazer, Wayde van Niekerk 

“If you want to succeed you need to believe in yourself and love what you do.”

At 24, Wayde van Niekerk is living up to the hype he created at the 2016 Olympic Games when he clinched gold in the men’s 400m, smashing Michael Johnson’s 1999 world record in the process.

His Olympic success was preceded by his 400m gold at the 2015 World Championships.

It’s no wonder he won the award for Best Male Athlete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. It’s not just the medals that make van Niekerk a darling of the press.

He’s well known for being a gentleman, on and off the track, and always takes the time to sign autographs for his growing number of fans.

8. Trailblazer, Seabelo Senatla 

“I live by the words: Be you, all the other characters are already taken.”

The concorde on the field. This 25 year old has been tearing rugby field apart, leaving his opponents confused as he soars past them with easy.

He claim bronze at the Olympic games in Rio last year, gold in both Cali World Games in 201 and the Commonwealth Games 2014.

To top this all off he helped the Bliztbokke claim the World Series Title for the second time since 2008.

9. Healer, Jessica Dewhurst 

“If you have privilege, you have an immediate responsibility to use it to change the lives of others.”

She displayed a heart of gold from the the tender age of 14.

During her high school years, Jessica spent most of her time addressing social inequalities.

In 2013, while still a student, Dewhurst co-founded the Edmund Rice Justice Desk in Cape Town. The organisation operates in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It focuses on educating, advocating for, and equipping youth, vulnerable groups, civil society and governments across South-Central Africa in human rights, justice and advocacy.

It works primarily in township areas and vulnerable communities, empowering and equipping communities to lead their own change.

As the director of the organisation, it’s Dewhurst’s task to develop a yearly formation programme that will educate and skill ERNSA members, as well as the general public around Social Justice and Advocacy issues. For her work, Dewhurst received recognition from President Jacob Zuma, and Prince Edward, and was honoured with a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2016.

10. Influencer, Katlego Maboe 

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

His debut was on the lifestyle magazine show, De Kat, before he moved onto investigative journalism on 50/50. Six years ago, Maboe landed an audition for the live morning show, Expresso, and he hasn’t looked back.

His work on Expresso earned him the South African Film and Television Award for Best Presenter in 2015, and a second one in 2016.

– Compiled by Leland Edwards

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