Final year B.com student, Kwanele Mkhwanazi will be one of the facilitators and speakers at an international conference on cooperatives – youth forum, which gets underway next week. Mkhwanazi, who holds a Diploma in Management of Co-operatives also from UNIZULU, will be jetting off to Turkey on Sunday to attend the week-long International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) conference starting on Tuesday. This will be his second participation at the ICA International Conference. He said he aims to continue flying the UNIZULU flag high by making meaningful contributions at the conference. Speaking this week, Mkhwanazi said given the space co-operatives could play a very important role in growing the country’s economy. “We have seen it in countries like Canada and Kenya, the cooperatives there play a very big role,” he said. He was adamant that in South Africa too, co-operatives could be an answer to problems like the question of youth unemployment. “Already there are many success stories of co-ops especially here in KwaZulu-Natal. We have recorded successes especially in the Financial Services coops. This can be attributed to a collaborative approach between community, government and private sector”. He said his dream was to see more young people getting involved in co-operatives. This is the reason why last year he founded the South African Youth Co-operative Network (SAYCON). Amongst other things, the NPO advocates for change through social entrepreneurship and also empowering young people through knowledge. He pleaded with the youth to join the network to help grow youth participation in co-ops thereby tackling issues of youth underdevelopment. “We find that most co-operatives fail because people are not exposed to the right information, we strive to provide information and also to link people who are starting up in co-ops with other entrepreneurs” he said. Apart from his work at the NPO, Mkhwanazi also works closely with some local co-operatives through his recent role as President of Enactus UNIZULU. Enactus UNIZULU projects has been involved in many projects which centre on assisting small businesses and struggling co-operatives. Through the intervention of Enactus UNIZULU under his leadership, some of these have been turned into profitable business ventures. The work of the UNIZULU chapter of Enactus earned the organisation the number one spot in the country which also saw it reaching the semi-finals of the Enactus World Cup where it represented the country. Included in Mkhwanazi’s long list of accolades, is the title as 100 Brightest Young Mind (SA 2014) and an award for being the best Enactus President in the country, an award he got this year.