This past summer, the International Office hosted 25 outstanding young African leaders as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
In addition to participating in a six-week intensive business and entrepreneurship institute, the fellows also partnered with business community members in Austin through the Community Collaborators program. The program allows both fellows and Austin-area professionals to internationalize their networks and gives them the opportunity to collaborate on a project.
Such is the case for 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow Tadziripa Madzima, founder of Zimbabwean nonprofit IGNITE Youth, which focuses on building entrepreneurial, innovative, leadership and creative skills of Zimbabwean youth. The child of a single mother, Madzima was inspired to start IGNITE Youth after realizing that she and many young people in her nation do not receive adequate mentorship to reach their full potential. Her nonprofit provides young people with mentorship programs that empower them to contribute solutions to problems in their communities.
Through the Community Collaborators program, Madzima was paired up with Layla Fry, the director of operations for Southwest Key Programs, which is one of the largest Hispanic nonprofits in the United States. Through numerous half-day site visits to Southwest Key Programs, Madzima received mentorship and professional coaching across a number of areas such as finance, fundraising, human resources and program development.
Madzima was most impressed by Southwest Key’s Youth Justice Program, which provides alternatives to children involved in the court system. She is exploring ways to implement a similar program in IGNITE Youth.
“The amount of support and help that I received from Mrs. Fry during the fellowship was incredible,” Madzima said.
But Madzima’s partnership with her mentor continues even after returning to Zimbabwe, and IGNITE Youth has recently appointed Fry to its board of directors.
“We are thrilled to have Mrs. Fry joining our board of directors,” Madzima said. “The knowledge and expertise that she brings will be of great benefit to IGNITE Youth Organization and will enrich the experiences of the African youth that we support.”
On top of sharing her expertise with Madzima, Fry also had valuable takeaways from the partnership.
“It was so energizing to sit in the presence of a visionary and hear how she is mobilizing a team of youth leaders to drive all the work of her organization,” she said.
Fry also expressed how she found the experience to be a mutually beneficial collaboration and that she would like to see it continue beyond the life of the Fellowship.
“Since she returned to Zimbabwe, Tadzi and I have already reconnected and started some joint projects to benefit both of our organizations,” she described. “Specifically, we are working together to build financial sustainability and administrative systems for IGNITE Youth, and to improve Southwest Key’s capacity to have youth lead our work in the juvenile justice system.”
As a member of IGNITE Youth’s board of directors, Fry will continue working alongside Madzima to strengthen the organization’s core activities, including helping young Zimbabweans to unleash their innovative power to shape development, gain entrepreneurship skills, develop businesses and build their creative skills.