As we commemorate the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, 263Chat will profile 16 most influential women in Zimbabwe. The focus will be on their achievements and the contribution they have or are making to uplift society and the country at large.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa is an African philanthropist and social entrepreneur who has devoted much of her life to empowering the lives of young people through education and technology.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa started working in philanthropy in the early 1990s through the work of her husband, Strive Masiyiwa, in the telecommunications business in Zimbabwe. During that time, the country was gripped by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and many families lost breadwinners.
The impact of the pandemic touched the heart of Tsitsi who started supporting the children of employees and community members that would have passed on due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The impact of the pandemic was so dire that the Masiyiwa family attended and supported funerals of either an employee or a community member every other month and then it became every other week and then it became every other day.
From this experience, Tsitsi Masiyiwa dedicated her life to supporting the lives of young children especially orphans with the goal of providing these children another opportunity in life. Together with her husband, Strive, Tsitsi Masiyiwa founded Higherlife Foundation in 1996, a non-profit organization that has heavily invested in Africa’s future through education.
Over the years, Higherlife Foundation, has directly and indirectly supported over 250,000 children to access education services. Higherlife Foundation has become one of the largest scholarship program in Africa and thousands of children have gone on to receive tertiary scholarships to study at some of the top universities in the world.
In addition to supporting education initiatives, Higherlife Foundation also supported the response to the Cholera outbreak in 2008 in Zimbabwe, resuscitation of operations of the College of Medicine in Zimbabwe in the 2008-2010 period and provision of food packs to starving families during drought periods.
Recently, Higherlife Foundation streamlined its strategy and operations to focus on identifying and nurturing orphans and vulnerable children and highly talented students to fulfill their potential through education.
Higherlife Foundation has expanded operations and has in-country presence in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi. Tsitsi Masiyiwa’s work through Higherlife Foundation has had massive impact on the livelihood of the African population.
Driven by her passion for technology and innovation, Tsitsi co-founded Muzinda Hub, an entrepreneurship and innovation project based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Muzinda Hub is an incubator lab for youth digital skills development and business mentor ship that leverages technology to promote youth entrepreneurship. Muzinda is the fastest growing tech hub in Sub Saharan Africa with more than 1,000 coders. The scale-up of Muzinda Hub initiatives is being supported by Econet Zimbabwe.
Tsitsi’s relentless efforts in promoting the use of technology in education also led her to develop Ruzivo, an online interactive digital learning platform targeted at primary and secondary school students. The platform reinforces the use of blended learning models in class, and has been designed such that it is scalable, to ensure that the business reaches students even in the most disadvantaged schools.
The Ruzivo product offering is unique in that all content, exercises and tests were developed locally, based on the Zimbabwean national curriculum. Ruzivo is being rolled out in Zimbabwe jointly by Econet Zimbabwe and Higherlife Foundation and will provide online access to high quality education content to students across Zimbabwe. Plans to roll out Ruzivo in other countries are in place.
In her philanthropic work, Tsitsi Masiyiwa has worked with many local and international organizations dedicated to improving the livelihood of children. Most notably, Tsitsi has worked with World Vision, Imbuto Foundation, Let Girls Learn, ENDFund, PATH.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa also sits on the boards of PATH and ENDFund and is also a founding member of the African Philanthropy Forum. Tsitsi Masiyiwa and her husband are members of the Giving Pledge.
Her hard work and soft spot is what should inspire other women to work hard and always look out for others.
Despite having a wealthy husband that does not stop her from working and reaching out for her goals.
Econet ZimbabweHigher Life FoundationMuzinda HubStrive MasiyiwaTsitsi Masiyiwa