Inspiring Africa: Vimbainashe Masiyiwa ’17 drives change using skills learned at Bryant
Vimbainashe Masiyiwa ’17 is a believer. In the power of people to inspire, to create paths to success, and to ﬁnd brave solutions to big problems.
That belief led Masiyiwa, who was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa, to help develop the inaugural Innovate Elevate Youth Conference (IEYC). Sponsored by her family’s Higherlife Foundation, which seeks to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa, the conference inspired the more than 350 young Africans who attended and provide them with a venue to learn from some of the continent’s leading business people and innovators.
“I always tell people Africa doesn’t lack the skill; all it needs is opportunities and people who can drive innovation to create something beneﬁcial, sustainable and practical,” Masiyiwa says.
Foundation of innovation
Speakers at the conference ranged from artists to CEOs and included luminaries such as ﬁlmmaker and Beasts of No Nation author Uzo Iweala; Prince Abudu, Co-Founder and Operations Lead of the e-mentoring organization Emergination Africa; and Douglas Mboweni, CEO of the telecommunications company Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
"Africa doesn’t lack the skill; all it needs is opportunities and people who can drive innovation to create something beneﬁcial, sustainable and practical."
As a Project and Event Manager for the conference, Masiyiwa worked to ensure that everything was on track. She helped to make sure the conference stayed on budget, managed workers and volunteers, and handled logistics.
Learning from experience
Masiyiwa credits her time as a Bryant Computer Information Systems major with teaching her how to manage resources, and the University’s signature IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) design-thinking program with introducing her to iterative thinking and problem-solving. Her double-minor in International Affairs and Sociology-Service Learning helped her learn how to make a difference.
“For some things, you have to teach from experience, you can’t go back to the textbook,” she says, “and for me my experience was Bryant. I thought back to what I did at Bryant that was different, that made a difference. What did I learn that inspired me?
“I have a duty when it comes to giving back to the African continent,” Masiyiwa says. “As you grow up you begin to understand the problems and social issues people face and the impact that they have on Africans my own age.”
“I am in a position to help drive change,” says Masiyiwa, who is now pursuing a master's degree in international business with a specialization in management and innovation at Business School Lausanne, one of Europe’s leading business schools. “We have to ﬁnd ways that people can help each other, and that’s what we tried to do with this conference.”
Thanks, in part, to her efforts, that passion has been passed on to the young people who left the conference driven to make an impact in their home communities and build a stronger Africa.