Welcome to the African Young Warriors Fight COVID-19(AYWFC-19) series. In this series I’ll be featuring African youth that are doing their part to keep their communities safe and informed. As the rest of the world is doing their best to win the battle against Coronavirus, it’s no secret that a lot of African governments were not equipped for this kind of pandemic. Nonetheless some young African people are stepping up to the challenge, from making and distributing hand sanitisers to giving masks to the vulnerable in society. The African youth are really inspiring and have shown that they are movers and shakers in their countries.
I hope this series will inspire you to make a difference in your community, as we join hands to make the world safe again.
The Journey of entrepreneurship is one that is less travelled, but for those bold enough to start their own businesses, they can create opportunities and become wealthy. At the Youth Global Forum I met Rakesh Biswas and Suhas Gopinath who became entrepreneurs at a young age.
Rakesh is the Founder and Chairman of International Youth Society of Eco-Friendly and Renewable Technologies(IYSERT), which has operations in eight countries. He is the youngest person to have applied for 7 patents in India. Rakesh won Best Suggested Project Award(Social and Quality Improvements in India) at the Rhodes Youth Forum in 2012 and the SAM Global Youth Award in 2014.
Rakesh told me the importance of protecting my work through patents and giving back to my community even after I’ve become successful. We also had a good chat about his home state Rajasthan,where I had previously gone to for a friend’s wedding in the ‘Pink City’ Jaipur.
Suhas Gopinath is the founder of Globals and HappyEMI.Globals is a Web Solutions company that grew to become one of the biggest analytics company for the Education and Public sector.HappyEMI is a digital lending platform based in India. Suhas was honoured as a young global leader at the World Economic Forum. His other honours include being a Member of France’s Young Leaders Club, being a Winner of the New York Mayor’s Venture Fellow and being a Former Advisory Board Member of World Bank. At the age of 14, he was the world’s youngest CEO and BBC did a documentary about him.Check the link below for the documentary: https://youtu.be/BZ3MrxuqYd8
Suhas explained to me the importance of mentorship and knowing what mentor I need for the level that I find myself. He also encouraged me to take risks, and I found out that he followed Bill Gates to the bathroom to pitch himself(speak of being bold!). Interestingly, Suhas has been to my country Zimbabwe, where he did some youth projects with our former deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara.
If you a young person and you want to be an entrepreneur, go ahead and start your journey. You can never be too young.
Mental Health is an essential part of one’s wellbeing. The youth like everyone else can be having depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mental health challenges. While at the Youth Global Forum, I met Shinelle Bayrd, whose passionate about addressing mental health in her home country Guyana. A World Health Organisation report in 2014 stated that Guyana had the highest suicide rate at 44.2 per 100 000. That’s alarming for a country with a population of under 1 million people. After becoming aware of these statistics, I could now understand why Shinelle is passionate about addressing mental health in her country.
In 2018, Shinelle was the winner of the Youth Global Forum Idea Grant, and this resulted in her creating a Wellness Centre. The Centre helps those with mental health illness by improving their mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
The youth can definitely be at the forefront of providing support to those with mental health challenges as Shinelle has done in Guyana. You can check out the Wellness Centre website: https://thewellnesscentergy.com/.
On Saturday 22 February, I had an opportunity to attend a Young Women’s Empowerment Conference in my hometown Harare. This event was put together by an organisation called SHE ROARS. SHE ROARS is an organisation that empowers young girls and women to break gender stereotypes and help them find opportunities. One thing that stood out at this conference was, there was someone who was translating the presentations into sign language for the deaf. This is really important as no one should be left behind because of a disability or special needs.
Among the presenters, we had Honourable Minister Monica Mutsvangwa (Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services) and media personality Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa.
Some of the valuable lesson I learnt from the conference:
1. Its crucial to build your self-esteem
2. It’s important to take care of our mental health
3. It is essential to be financially literate. How many financial books have I read?
4. I learned to be distinct, as distinction makes you different from another person
5. Don’t leave another sister behind. Carry other women along when opportunities come