HARARE, May 17, 2016 – Often referred to as a “dormitory-town” in Zimbabwe, Chitungwiza or Chi-town as it is affectionately called, is a hive of activity. Set 30 kilometers from the capital city, many people make the trip daily to Harare for work and school. But one young resident made it all the way from Chi-town to the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, DC and back.
The day was a perfect setting for the Youth Entrepreneurship Network Zone, brainchild of Chiedza Mufunde, a proud product of Chitungwiza, whose day job is with the Global Partnership for Education in DC. With a grant from Youth Innovation Fund, sponsored by the World Bank’s Youth-to-Youth (Y2Y) Community, Chiedza and her hard working local team recently launched Stepping It Up: Building and Igniting Entrepreneurship Capacity among Youth in Zimbabwe.
The program seeks to “address primary causes of limited access to opportunities for self-employment by providing skills training, mentoring and networking opportunities for youths between the ages of 15-35.” It will sponsor 15 participants in an intensive five-week training project called Accelerated Incubation and Mentorship (AIM). AIM focuses on Leadership Skills, 21st Century Non-Cognitive Soft Skills and Entrepreneurship and Education Incubator.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Network Zone was a full day event to introduce Stepping It Up to the young entrepreneurs of Chitungwiza. Nearly 150 youth, including some from as far as Bindura and Chinhoyi, attended the free sessions in business skills, leadership and entrepreneurship on the campus of Young Africa Chitungwiza.
“I have had a good day and learnt a lot about business,” said Tanyaradzwa Rukwa. I learnt about moving from idea to capital, as well as how to conduct and present myself so that I can be an effective leader in business.”
The Zone was an interactive, fun and energizing way for these youth to learn from facilitators and from each other through the various activities. The day included performances from home-grown Chitungwiza musicians and lots of opportunity for the young entrepreneurs to mingle and exchange experiences. After the event, 15 participants who have active business projects were selected to be sponsored for AIM.
“I am hopeful that my project will be selected for AIM so that I can expand my business,” said Melody Madziwa, a 25-year-old entrepreneur. “I am a tailor who mostly sews and sells work suits. I also make other items of clothing on order basis. I am looking to learn how to make my business more sustainable so that I can expand, purchase new machines and even employ people.”
The 15 participants will also be matched with seasoned business leaders over the course of the project as a platform for them to learn best practices. The project is being implemented in partnership with Young Africa Zimbabwe, paNhari and Investor Saint P/L.