The second Global Impact Summit organised by YPO, a global community of chief executives, concluded in Kigali on Saturday, 3 February, with participants committing to taking critical action to change the world into a better place. The summit, attended by more than 230 chief executives of companies from all over the world, was the first held in Africa, a continent the participants view as the future due to its young population and the abundance of socio-economic potential. Held under the theme, “From Imagination to Action,” the summit focused on the participants’ role in finding solutions to global issues, including climate change, hunger, conflict, job creation and access to education. YPO has more than 35,000 members from 150 countries, representing companies that employ nearly 22 million people worldwide. “We want to become better leaders. It's an easy thing to say, and it's a tough thing to do,” said YPO Global Chairman Raymond Watt, adding that the members of the organisation can help make a positive change in the world by making the right personal choices. “Rwanda is the true teacher of when one person makes the right decision, they influence someone else to do the same, which is why we wanted the Global Impact Summit held here,” Watt says. “It was not one man’s decision that changed Rwanda from 1994 to today. It was the decision of millions of individual people to make a choice to forgive, to make a choice to live in harmony.” Watt said the companies and countries represented at the summit have a role to play in shaping the future of the world. YPO also has a youth wing, called YPO Next Generation, which seeks to nurture future leaders and members of the global organisation. For Asheesh Advani, CEO of JA Worldwide, an entrepreneurship development company, helping young people participate in the type of impactful actions YPO members are implementing is one of the best ways to ensure the desired changes are realised. “The action happens if you create jobs. How do you create jobs? When you have a local project, hire local people, partner with somebody local,” says Advani, whose company is set to open a branch in Rwanda. “Another way to impact youth is to train them to become entrepreneurs, job creators, and hopefully future YPO members,” Watt adds. “When you reach people at a young age, you make them realise that they can create a job for themselves.” Measuring YPO’s impact One way YPO measures its impact is through surveys that track the activities of member-led companies. YPO’s inaugural 2023 Global Impact Report, conducted by data intelligence firm Proof, is one of the largest datasets of impact metrics of private companies and was presented during the summit. Up to 700 companies from 12 industries and 80 countries took part in the survey, which focused on equality, employment, gender pay gap, and water, energy and carbon footprint. “We captured that YPO-led companies are quite good at managing the diversity quality and inclusion of our businesses,” says Proof CEO Fleur Heyns. They found that YPO-run companies tend to hire more people from diverse backgrounds than the global benchmark. They pay men and women almost the same, which is also much better than the global benchmark. “Where we see an opportunity is with carbon measurement,” Fleur says. “Most companies could not report on their carbon emissions nor do they have the support and tools to measure how destructive or clean they are for the planet.” “What we believe makes a company successful when it comes to global impact also makes them successful from a financial perspective,” she notes. Why Rwanda? The first YPO Global Impact Summit took place in 2023 in Costa Rica. The organisers chose Rwanda for the second summit because, they say, the country has lessons to teach other countries. “YPO Global Impact Summit is a premier gathering of global chief executives designed to provide a platform for the business leaders to meet and exchange ideas to become better leaders,” says YPO member and Rwandan businessman Emery Rubagenga, the event co-chair. Rwanda has a lot to share, he adds, by hosting this event in Kigali, our objective was to humbly share our experience, especially our reconciliation journey since the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, but also showcase the business/investment opportunities that Rwanda & Africa has to offer whilst deep-dive into the impact responsibilities we have, as global business leaders.