Wagenhallen. Stuttgart, Germany. The former train depot—the venue for the first annual beVisioneers Global Summit—looks stylishly industrial. There is an openness to the space, but the Fellows, who have come from India, South Africa and Europe to be here, have already left their mark: large boards carry project outlines, sketches, post-it notes. As they arrive for the day, they fill the venue with an instantaneous buzz.

“I’m so excited to see everyone in action. It’s going to be really interesting to see how much everyone has developed since we started out.”

Maximilian Lehmann, Fellow – Germany

A Worldwide Gathering of Fellows

The Fellows of the first Cohort of beVisioneers are speeding towards the end of their intensive 12-months hybrid learning program. For many, the Global Summit was the highlight of their journey so far.

”It’s amazing to hear everyone, listen to their stories, and realize how similar we all are”

Zainab Bie, Fellow – India

”It’s really striking to see how we’re all working on the same global problems, but with very local solutions. Seeing how the local can become the global—that’s so inspiring for me.”

Ceri Flook, Fellow – United Kingdom
Likhona Mkonto, South African Fellow

With 154 attendees over three days, and 55 Fellows from across 10 different countries, the Global Summit is a milestone for the Fellowship that equips young people with the training, support and resources to bring their planet-positive projects to life.

”Together, we are creating the largest community of eco-innovators. It’s a big task. But just think about the brainpower in this room, right now. Just think about what we can do together.”

Mariah Levin, Executive Director – beVisioneers

The Summit, which took place 26-28 February 2024, spotlighted the leadership qualities of Fellows, showcased their planet-positive solutions, and connected them with sustainability experts and leaders from around the world. At a ‘marketplace’ of projects, Fellows could present their projects and how far they have developed, while selected Fellows pitched their projects to an expert jury.

”It’s so important to lead with integrity and authenticity. Even if you fall short, you had the courage to take the first step. That’s what we’re teaching each other here: to take that first step.”

Brandon Reynolds, Cohort 1 Fellow – U.K.

Convening Fellows with Experts and Eco-preneurs

For the Fellows, who, in most cases, were meeting each other for the first time, the summit kicked off with a day dedicated peer to peer learning. beVisisoneers invited breakthrough leaders in sustainability—business leaders, impact funders, NGO representatives, policy makers—and the moment they joined the Fellows in a warm-up exercise it was clear that this convening wasn’t just intergenerational, but happening on eye level. 

Grouped into ‘Innovation Teams’ and ‘Expert Exchanges,’ the Fellows had the chance to ask questions, share their concerns, seek guidance, and be challenged. John Dutton, Head of Uplink and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, considered prototypes and asked probing questions: ‘How would you define your customer?’ Elsewhere, Fellows shared their concerns about fundraising: ‘What if my assumptions aren’t enough?’ Chinedu Agbara, Associate Partner, Sahel Consulting, guided them with care. 

‘If you scale too much, too fast, without sufficient customer feedback, you are not setting yourself up for success.”

Thorsten Mindermann, Manager Region Central Europe, H&M

Across the room, Lukas Kircher, Transformative Communication, The DO, spoke passionately on building a coherent brand identity, and why it matters, while Lawrence Brenninkmeijer, Board of Directors, COFRA Holding AG, shared his insights on building a team, especially in the beginning, ”when it’s mostly just you.”

Krithi Kranath, CEO of Centre of Wildlife Studies

Krithi Karanth, CEO and Chief Conservation Scientist, Centre for Wildlife, prepared the eco-innovators, many of which have started to implement their projects, for the long game:

”You need to build trust. Some things might happen for you in the first year; many others will only happen much further down the line. You need patience.”

As much as experts were challenging Fellows, Fellows were challenging experts:

”We cannot be leaders until we gain access!”

said Praneetha, 27, from India. When Florian Bankoley, Executive Vice President Business Solutions, Bosch Digital, advised Fellows to try and change the system from within, Saskia, 28, from the UK, shared a perfect example of how that just happened in construction, the sector she is active in. Exploring the meaning of empowerment, Ole Spies, Head of Youth Engagement, Young Global Changers, told Fellows: ”Let me throw this right back to you!”

Guidance and Expertise from Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz took an active role in proceedings on Day 3, when Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG for Integrity, Governance & Sustainability, opened the morning session with appreciation for the Fellows:

”It’s great to see how engaged you all are, and that you’re prepared to pitch to move your projects forward.”

”This is just overwhelming. Your creativity, your courage, your readiness to go out of your comfort zone. All of us have seen the problems of the world, right? But you make a difference—because you step out, and you take it up.”

Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG for Marketing & Sales
Renata Jungo Brüngger, Board of Directors for Integrity, Governance & Sustainability at Mercedes-Benz

The participation of Mercedes-Benz began on the opening afternoon with a lively fireside chat between the Fellows and Sabine Kohleisen, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Human Relations & Labour. The Fellows had plenty of questions up their sleeves, and the wide-ranging Q&A, moderated by Katherin Kirschenmann, Founder at The DO, touched on topics that included upskilling, work-life balance, burnout and retaining the best talent. Sabine Kohleisen, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Human Relations & Labour, shared:

”Building a great team is about choosing the right leaders—people who act with purpose and ignite passion in the people you want to unite.”

The Pitches

One of the most stirring moments of the summit was the pitching competition.

”There’s a wide range of projects on show here,” said Patrick Knodel, CEO, Knodel Foundation, who was one of the judges.

“People have very different and innovative approaches—and they come from different backgrounds. I think that creates value.”

Josephine Katumba, South African Fellow delivering pitch

Another judge, Emma Benameur, Head of Programming, Villars Institute, took particular note of how the young ecopreneurs got to where they are with their projects:

”Behind each of these projects, there is a human story.”

As the pitching session got underway, and the first Fellows stepped onto the stage to present their projects, they received a celebrity welcome from their co-Fellows. Each presentation—word-perfect, delivered with confidence—got roaring applause from the audience. It was a powerful demonstration of just how much Fellows are placing collaboration and cooperation ahead of competition. Then it was time for Florian Hoffmann, Founder and CEO of The DO, and Katherin Kirschenmann, Founder, The DO, to take the stage and announce the winners of the Pioneer Grants and Catalyst Grants respectively. 

 There were a total of 15 pitch winners which were evaluated by an expert jury.

Katrin Kreidel, German Fellow delivering pitch

Celebrating Accomplishments and the Journey So Far

Celebrating each other, the Fellows made it clear that funding was only a small part of what happened for them at the summit. As they reflected on the experience, they foregrounded the overwhelming sense of community, the spirit of open exchange, the deep connections made.

”It was beautiful. It was inspiring. It was emotional. It was moving. It was reflective. It was celebratory. I’m just so grateful to have witnessed all the Fellows being recognized for their hard work.”

Babalwa Mni, Fellow – South Africa
Fellows celebrating the end of a successful Summit

”This Fellowship gives me the reassurance that I’m not alone. We are a growing community, and I’m super passionate about working with people from across the world to create solutions that are more resilient and make sense to the communities they are being deployed in.”

Vamsi Tadisetti, Fellow – India

”I feel I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people,” said Vlad, 27, from Poland. ”The experts I’ve had the chance to talk to have given me such great feedback—it’s really inspired me to continue to work on my project.”

Vlad Borovskii, Fellow – Poland

”I’m taking lots of inspiration and energy from this. Seeing how fast people are moving encourages me to keep up the same pace and strive for even more impact. You cannot move fast enough in this race against climate change!”

Adrian Bösl, Fellow – Germany

”I made a lot of friends here—and I don’t think that connection is going to end any time soon.”

Likhona Mkonto, Fellow – South Africa

As they came together in a final circle of appreciation, all the energy, inspiration, and uplift that happened over the last three days, erupted, spontaneously, and with beautiful ease—into dancing.

Do you want to get involved in helping us shape the biggest global fellowship for young eco-innovators? Contact comms@bevisioneers.world

Leave a Comment


  1. Mercy okelI love the friendship,support and togetherness from the fellow and the bevisioneers community at large. The bond they made was so strong
  2. Brian Ashens MugaboWow ... this is so phenomenal ...i love how people from different nations share developmental ideals to help the world and the future at large .... i cant wait joining you guys ... i pray i become one of the great community of bevisioner

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