First Chevening Global Forum leads to launch of alumni fund

More than 50 Chevening alumni flew in from all over the world last month to attend the Chevening Alumni Alliance’s first global forum at Christ’s College, Cambridge on 1st September 2017.

From Algeria to Zambia, former scholars came to hear finance experts, entrepreneurs and influencers speak about their knowledge and experience of an industry which is rallying from a turbulent decade.

The alumni form part of the Chevening Finance Network (CFN), one of four networks launched by the alliance over the past 12 months to encourage alumni to network by industry.

The CFN connects alumni working in finance, banking, capital markets, infrastructure funds, central banks, financial regulators, private equity and fintech startups among others.

This year’s event, held at the University of Cambridge on September 2, gave alumni the opportunity to network across borders and make meaningful connections over a day of presentations by leaders in the field.

CFN chair Gui Silva said the crowning moment came with the launch of an alumni fund. The idea behind the fund is to encourage established alumni to pledge time and money by providing funding, mentoring and promotion to assist fellow alumni who are trying to get start-ups off the ground.

“It is very ambitious but I believe we can do it. The size of our network is challenging but it is also our strength, as we have close to 48,000 enthusiastic, highly talented and skilled people who are looking for a way to pay it forward. I am also really glad to see alumni interacting across countries; it brings a new cross-border perspective to our activities and I am hoping to see some real partnerships forming in the coming months.”

Among the many speakers at the event were Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, an Indian entrepreneur and chairman of Cobra Beer; Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism at the African Union Commission (AUC) and Lord Michael Hastings CBE, Global Head of Citizenship at KPMG International.

Lord Bilimoria said: “Success in life is really down to one thing, and that is attitude. If you have the right attitude, if you have the boldness and the guts, that’s what is going to make you and enable you to achieve things in life. To have the Chevening brand behind you, to be a Chevening scholar gives you a huge head start.”

Dr Abou-Zeid focused on diversity. “What makes our world beautiful is diversity. And with diversity comes wealth,” she said.

“If you think of the 48,000 Chevening scholars across the world coming together, you can imagine the power of the group. I know that, as individuals, we are all contributing to our societies and communities, but as collectively, this network has to potential to contribute even more.”

Lord Hastings’s words at the forum also resonated with many. He said: “I am convinced that the most highly-engaged, intelligent, well-connected people in the world have got to have a vividly important purpose…

“Given that Chevening scholars come from some of the most troubled countries on the planet, where the destitution needs are still very real, that purpose sits within the power of generosity.

“It is not just about giving to foundations, but in maximising investments, creating jobs, and putting your resourcing dollars where they going to make the biggest difference to the widest number of people.”

And Lensational co-founder Bonnie Chiu, named in Forbes’ 2017 list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs said: “With the scale of the challenges we see now, and especially with the sustainable development goals that we need to accomplish by 2030, we are really at a point when we need to rethink what profit means. Profit can be aligned with purpose, and we need more people creating market opportunities while also solving social issues, so that we create more sustainable businesses that ensure an inclusive world for all.”

Chevening Alumni Alliance (CAA) chair Laura Vanessa Munoz said: “Four years ago, we had a simple idea, to come together as a global community, and the CAA was born. Today we are making history by attending the first global forum organised by alumni for alumni, and launching the Chevening Alumni Fund.

“We live in times where change is the norm, so we must adapt fast and find ways of collaboration to innovate and positively influence our communities. Our social capital is our most valuable asset and this event clearly shows that the Chevening community has a strong social capital based on mutual support, a sense of belonging and trust.

“We are grateful for the continued support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Chevening Secretariat, Christ College Cambridge and all our inspirational speakers.”


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