A project launched in 2001 to send the first African into space is exemplary for the Ravi Naidoo method. Coupled with that effort was a new brand, called Hip To Be Square, aimed at promoting maths, science and technology among youths.

‘This was particularly relevant, considering that the old Apartheid education had systematically removed those categories from the curricula,’ Naidoo said in an interview. ‘Alongside the African in space programme, Hip To Be Square was the news item of the year, and has since spawned its own merchandise, textbooks and a TV show. Proceeds from sales fund further outreach work for maths and science.’

Developing consciousness, increasing ambition among people and adding to the economy inspired the founding of Design Indaba in 1995, a three-day design conference with speakers from all corners of the world aimed at boosting creative industries in Africa. Today, the Design Indaba Festival brings its annual celebration of creativity to six Southern African cities, showcasing design across a variety of formats and empowering local creative economies. Naidoo: ‘There is a recent study from the University of Cape Town, which shows that Design Indaba has added 1.7 billion rand to the economy in the last five years.’

Naidoo started Design Indaba from his company Interactive Africa in Cape Town, which combines marketing, project management, logistic prowess and creative production to work on projects that promote South Africa. Naidoo’s aim with both organizations is to make Africa a competitor on the world stage through innovation and creativity. Naidoo sits on the juries of the WDCD Refugee Challenge, the Index Awards and the Dutch Design Awards.

This talk is made possible thanks to Het Nieuwe Instituut (The New Institute) and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.