Farai Munjoma on Empowering African Youth from Edinburgh
The Ashinaga Africa Initiative is a leadership program to empower the next generation of African leaders. Graduates of the program are encouraged to return to their home countries and lead change in their communities.
Some AAI graduates pursue advanced degrees or start their jobs abroad, intending to lay a solid foundation for their careers and gain the necessary skills and expertise. Even while they are not physically on the continent, these young leaders are constantly preoccupied and invested in ways they can contribute to the growth of their countries from afar.
During a recent summer event, the Graduates and Scholars of the AAI had the opportunity to hear and learn from the story of a young African leader, Farai Munjoma, who shared his journey to empower African youth all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Mr. Munjoma is the Founder and CEO of ShaSha network, an online career program for African youth. At ShaSha, short for “champion” in the Shona language, the mission is simple: to empower young people and train them to become the next generation of African leaders, providing them with tools to uplift their communities. ShaSha helps students develop their potential through self-leadership and mentorship, with a network of alums that includes students from the best universities in the world. ShaSha also supports students with career searches and personal branding.
Mr. Munjoma said the idea of ShaSha grew from his personal experience. In Africa, only 2 out of 10 students make it to university. Mr. Munjoma was at risk of becoming one of those students. When Zimbabwe faced hyperinflation in 2009, he had to leave school to support his family by selling chickens at the market. He was at a loss when he finally graduated high school in 2015. However, seeing his older peers being successful pushed him to work harder. Fast forward to 2017: Mr. Munjoma was in Copenhagen as an Innovation fellow at Microsoft, with a new interest in technology and how that could change the continent. With ShaSha, he now helps young Africans to cultivate their talents and discover all their possibilities.
“African culture tells you to be humble,” he says. “When you are good at something, you are taught that there is no need to tell others. But young people need to know how to own their voice. With ShaSha, we want to build an ecosystem of people and a philosophy of doing things. We believe that even if we can reach a small percentage of African youth, these people will return to their communities and be the changemakers the continent needs.”
Mr. Monjuma briefly worked at Ashinaga as a teacher in the past and is familiar with the idea of Kokorozashi. “In these past years, I have been reflecting on the idea of ‘purpose’ and why it is important to develop the mindset to go for what gives you the most joy,” he says. “I realized my Kokorozashi is unlocking human potential across Africa and around the world.”
Mr. Monjuma concluded his speech by inviting AAI Graduates and Alumni to constantly reflect on how they can be of service to others, and to think of their long-term vision. ‘’When you understand your Kokorozashi, and you understand the mission that you have, you are okay with it not achieving its fullest potential during your lifetime.’’