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Zimbabweans in Mandela Washington YALI Program Receive Grants for Projects

Three Zimbabweans are among 40 of Mandela Washington fellows who were awarded $25,000 entrepreneurship grants by the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) to start or expand their enterprises in their home countries.

The recipients are Kudakwashe Makuzwa of Anaya Investments, Farai Chizengeni of Utano Tech and Andrew Chikomba of Tomire Trading.

According to USADF, a million dollars in grant awards has been availed to the fellows as part of organization’s over $7 million commitment over three years to fund young African entrepreneurs’ who are launching and expanding their businesses and social ventures in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, this year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders’ participants are wrapping up with many going back to their countries Thursday.

Zimbabwean businessman, Augustine Mhlanga, who operates a moving company in Washington DC, on Tuesday night hosted the YALI fellows drawn from various nations at a reception held in the U.S. capital.

Speaking at the event, Mhlanga said it was important for Zimbabweans to give back to the community hence his decision to sponsor the event.

At the same time, fellows from Zimbabwe have come together with other Sub-Saharan colleagues to form a group called YALI Creatives which will share ideas on how to change Africa’s negative narratives.

Zimbabwe’s Kelvin Mutize on Tuesday held a discussion to chart the way forward for the group which puts together fellows from 2014 and 2015.

“We know it will take time for us as young African leaders to change the negative narrative on Africa and in particular Zimbabwe but we will do it step by step until the whole world hears our story from our perspective,” said Mutize.

Mutize said the main highlight for him besides meeting President Barack Obama was the visit to the Zimbabwean Embassy on Monday night where the whole group was treated to traditional food and got to share their experiences as well as how they hope to use them for the development of the country.

“After staying here for six weeks in different states eating foreign food we were glad to get a chance to network and eat traditional food with our ambassador in Washington DC as well as also share ideas on how to develop our country,” said Mutize.

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Studio 7’s Tatenda Gumbo also managed to talk to many of the YALI fellows from Zimbabwe, who expressed their excitement about their experience in America.

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