Ratidzo Mutizwa Njagu: I would rather become a CEO of a major company today

Ratidzo Mutizwa is a Development Economist, Life coach and Leadership Content Creator. She primarily focuses on community engagement, CSR and women’s development. She holds a masters in Political Economy from the LSE and has successfully trained in corporate governance, capacity building and monitoring & evaluation.

She is the Founder of Deeply Driven now known as the Leaders Lounge Foundation, which empowers, coaches and provides training for young leaders.

Previously she worked for BRAC, Deloitte Central Africa and the Clinton Health Access Initiative. She is a passionate change agent determined to aid the development of young leaders and to equip them with essential life skills.

Professionally, whatever I do has to have an impact that will outlast me - Ratidzo Mutizwa Njagu Click To Tweet


What are your most important values personally and professionally?

Personally, I find that whatever I do needs to feed into my purpose, cater for a healthy lifestyle and allow me to fully express myself.

Professionally, whatever I do has to have an impact that will outlast me. In other words, what I do is driven by a need to achieve generational impact and ultimately improve the future of those to come.

Ratidzo Mutizwa

If you were given unlimited resources, what women focused initiatives would you contribute towards?

I would seek to ensure that young women under the ages of 35 are able to get access to free value added personal development and basic business training. I believe that access to upskilling in Southern Africa ( which is our initial primary target region) can be a positive catalyst for change across the continent.

Ratidzo Mutizwa says her goal is to drive innovation and promote socio-entrepreneurship. Click To Tweet


What can millennials expect to get from training or advice from Leaders Lounge?

The Leaders Lounge is a place for millennials to learn from the legends, those that have gone before them. As well as a common space where millennials can meet up to share ideas and information with each other.

Trainings are given in the form of workshops, seminars and conferences. Topics are centered around redefining the leadership landscape across various sectors; and seek to inform and educate on business principles and essential life skills. The goal is to drive innovation and promote socio-entrepreneurship.


 Deeply Driven provides CSR advisory services. What social responsibility commitments do you have as an organization?

We have committed to providing free life-skills training services in high schools within Zimbabwe. A part of our mission is to encourage the development of a highly self-aware and well equipped generation of leaders.


Ratidzo Mutizwa

Leaders Lounge is tailored to impact global audiences. How do you reach out to these audiences and how do you plan on growing?

We are being purposeful about building our social media reach as we know that African millennials are increasingly active online- no matter where they are in the world.

We also understand the demand for African-driven solutions and innovations and are seeking to address this. At Present we have established a blog through which we share weekly tips, advice and inspiration.

As part of our strategy we are launching Podcasts as well as monthly YouTube videos, which will share on particular topics relevant to the African millennial.


Ratidzo Mutizwa Njagu, what things in life are still a mystery to you?

It baffles me that we often continue to want to be and to do more. For our generation, happiness in our present state is often quite illusive and without a concerted decision to choose happiness we are often left wanting

To be a CEO is to nurture and allow great leaders within the organization to thrive and to create a highly innovative environment - Ratidzo Mutizwa Click To Tweet


Would you rather suddenly be elected a senator or suddenly become a CEO of a major company. (You won’t have any more knowledge about how to do either job than you do right now.)

This is interesting!

I would certainly rather become a CEO of a major company today. At that level of leadership a lot of the real work is in identifying and bringing together the people who are good at what they do- something I already enjoy doing.

To be a CEO is to nurture and allow great leaders within the organization to thrive and to create a highly innovative environment. I think the role of a CEO is to be able to bring great ideas and great people together effectively and to instill confidence in the management teams

What have you done to up-skill yourself this year?

Tell us your story here

Sithembile Ndlovu: I’m fulfilled when I see a smile on a child’s face

Sithembile ndlovu
Life trials inspired the dream, while growing up there were always funerals at home Click To Tweet

Sithembile Ndlovu is a qualified Child and Youth Care Practitioner and a young Social Entrepreneur from Dassenhoek in Kwa-Zulu Natal. She is a co-founder of Sithuthukile PreSchool and Eliny’ithuba NPO in KwaNdengezi near Pinetown. Sithembile is future-oriented and passionate about developing, restoring, advocating for as well as educating children and youth at risk.

She hopes to make the world a place where women and children are safe from sexual violence. This is because she herself has been a victim of sexual violence and has experienced some of the darkest moments of her life. This did not break her, instead it motivated her to help others who have gone through similar situations as well as ensure that the same doesn’t happen to others. 

Read about how she tirelessly works towards fighting new HIV infections, political liberty and advancing youth leadership skills by volunteering her time to a range of organisations.

Has helping the youth and children always been your dream?

While growing up I dreamed of being a psychologist, I always wanted to help people but I was not specific about the age group.

What inspired this dream?

Life trials inspired the dream while growing up there were always funerals at home. I was born in a family of six; my parents, myself and three siblings. Unfortunately, all my siblings passed away before I even turned 10 years old and from then onwards I became the only child with no brother or sister to help me through life.

In my early 20s I was sexually and violently abused and I almost lost my life. My life was falling apart and I was in and out of hospital throughout 2011. I was infected with TB and in June 2012 I lost my mother through diabetes. Life was difficult in a way that I had to be booked for counselling sessions at the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown for a while. While attending these sessions I was introduced into a group of young girls who were going through similar situations.

In my early 20s I was sexually and violently abused and I almost lost my life. My life was falling apart and I was in and out of hospital throughout 2011. I was infected with TB and in June 2012 I lost my mother through diabetes. Life was difficult in a way that I had to be booked for counselling sessions at the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown for a while. While attending these sessions I was introduced into a group of young girls who were going through similar situations.

After hearing their different stories week after week I knew I had to do something about it. It broke my heart to realise how much trauma children, youth, and women go through with all the abuse and inequality happening in South Africa. From then onwards I wanted to make a difference, to change lives and to advocate for the rights of women and children. I then decided to go back to University and study Child and Youth Development.

It broke my heart to realise how much trauma women go thru with the abuse & inequality in SA Click To Tweet

What would you like to see change in the world that would make the lives African woman better?

I would like to see a change in people’s perspective about the strength of a woman. Women are taken for granted in many spheres of life resulting in gender inequality. I would like to see female excellence rising all around the world, with no gender-based violence and cruelty against women and children. I would like to live in an Africa where the peace and the security of women is a priority for everyone.

Women are taken for granted in many spheres of life resulting in gender inequality @OwakhoNdlovu Click To Tweet

Tell me more about your involvement with Progressive Youth Africa, SADC youth network, and the Ethekwini Youth sector.

Progressive Youth Africa is championed by proactive youth in the pursuit of political liberty in Africa. it is present in all 54 countries in the African continent and each country has one ambassador who then acts as a President for their country platform. I was selected as an ambassador for South Africa in 2016 and my role is to assemble highly courageous youth capable of pioneering change for a prosperous South Africa. So far I have gathered 45 young great minds from different provinces in South Africa who are undertaking amazing initiatives in their respective communities.

We formed the SADC Youth Network during the YALI regional leadership centre program in South Africa in February 2016 with fellow YALI alumni with an aim to collaborate ideas to deal with social issues facing the youth in the Southern Africa region. We want to increase youth participation and representation at high-level meetings; to identify and bridge the gaps in policies and to allow the youth to participate in the formulation of policies, and to be a platform where we can discuss regional integration issues on both national and international levels. We have managed to influence more than 500 innovative young people in the Southern Africa region to join our network.

I joined the Ethekwini Youth Centre after the 21st International Aids conference in Durban by invitation. I am involved in the provincial youth initiative that encourages young people to work together in order to implement the resolutions of the conference to stop HIV transmission by 2030. Particularly in Kwa-Zulu Natal as we have the highest percentage of transmission of people below the age of 35.

What are your roles in these organisations?

I help youth-led organisations professionalise their work by sharing my expertise and experience. I assist in reviewing business plans, funding proposals and offer mentorship to those in need. In addition, I advise and advertise available opportunities to young people and enhance self-development, I also recommend them to potential employers.


How did you come to be part of the MSALEAD fellowship programme?

That was God’s grace upon my life. I applied for the fellowship two days before the closing date and my application went through a panel of judges along with other applications and my name was on the list of the top 10 young social entrepreneurs.

Monash South Africa selected 10 youth-led projects that were impacting their communities for their first MSALEAD Social Entrepreneurs yearlong fellowship. We are the first generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to be introduced to Monash’s first formalised business incubator. We were trained in leadership development, project management, communications, and other topics. On the 8th of December 2016, Monash South Africa hosted an awards ceremony for us in recognition of our work.

How was your experience with the YALI leadership programme?

YALI was amazing, it is surprising a year has already passed since it happened. I learned a lot about myself through the programme and I learned so many things regarding Africa and its people. I met 130 young leaders from the SADC region together with the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership staff who gave us the warmest hospitality. We were given lessons on Responsible Leadership, Gender and HIV/AIDS.

I was in the Civic Leadership track for four weeks being lectured by different TMALI’s Professors and Doctors on topics such as the Millennium development goals, Sustainable developmental goals, Feminism, Philanthropy and the role of the youth in civic society just to mention a few. We had site visits to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Gender Links, Southern Africa Trust and many other important places. I had a chance to network with a large number of substantial people and formed long-lasting partnerships and friendships. I really had a great experience at YALI I would do it again if given a chance.

How do you think your work with all these organisations has shaped you as a person?

I have grown intellectually and developed my people skills. I can think more rationally now as well as act in an ethical manner in any given situation. Finally, I’m able to appreciate diversity and I have gained emotional intelligence, entrepreneurship skills, and leadership skills.

What do you hope to achieve through your work in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, I’m hoping to have made an impact on children accessing education from Early Childhood Development to tertiary education while also encouraging entrepreneurship and scarce skills to eradicate poverty in our communities.

My passion lies in Early Childhood Development because the first seven years in an individual’s life are of paramount importance in sharpening the mind. My goal is to implement Sustainable Development Goal no.4 –Quality education on the highest level possible. One goal of the NDP states that “South Africa should have access to education and training of the highest quality” and it begins with a child.

What motivates you?

Working with young people motivates me on its own, I get unexplainable fulfillment when I see a smile on a child or young person’s face.

Plus seeing young people creating innovative solutions to our daily struggles in the hope to make this world a better place motivates and inspires me to continue doing social good.

No dream is too small or too big, just believe in yourself @OwakhoNdlovu Click To Tweet

Do you have any words of inspiration to young women that would like to get involved in social entrepreneurship?

Do not allow anybody to tell you that your dream is impossible; if you put your mind to it you can do it. No dream is too small or too big, you just need to believe in yourself then everything is possible. A successful Social Entrepreneur never stops learning.

You know what they say about being all work and no play, what do you do for fun?

I’m a big fan of poetry so for fun I attend poetry sessions. I also love nature so a good walk at the beach, park or a camp site is my kind of fun.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Who run the world?: How African women are changing the way we see Africa

In the last few days of June 2015, a hashtag, #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou was trending on Twitter. Within a week, it had been used 54,000 times. Fed up, and in an effort to defy the negative and monoculture stereotypes of Africa, Africans at home and in the diaspora started tweeting vibrant pictures of African landscapes, architecture, food, fashion, and art.

These tweets tell a different story of Africa – one told by Africans themselves.


The campaign was reportedly started by  @WestAfricanne, a 17-year-old “aspiring journalist and photographer” and “proud African”. Diana Salah, known by her followers as @lunarnomad, is a 22-year-old American-Somali student and early supporter of the campaign told Fusion: “I got involved because growing up I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent. I used to get questions ranging from ‘were you born in a hut’ to hurtful comments about disease and poverty.”

Poverty, conflict, and marginalization are certainly deep-rooted problems across the continent, but showcasing only these aspects has resulted in what Chimamanda Adichie calls “the danger of the single story”. Here are some of the many ways in which African women are combating stereotypes and prospering against all odds.

We’re blowing up runways

Iman and Alek Wek, hailing from Somalia and South Sudan respectively, are two supermodels who, with their dark and lovely complexions, disrupted the accepted standard of beauty. By sheer example, they paved the way for other dark-skinned women to feel beautiful and comfortable in their skin. Iman is now famous for creating cosmetics for her dark-skinned sisters and Alek Wek has her own handbag line.


Since their come up, models like Liya Kebede of Ethiopia, Ajak Deng and Ataui Deng of South Sudan, Yasmin Warseme and Fatima Said of Somalia, Betty Adewole of Nigeria, Hereith Paul of Tanzania, Maria Borges and Roberta Narciso of Angola, Malaika Firth of Kenya,  and Anai Mali of Chad have all made advances on the runway scene.

But it doesn’t stop there. African designers are also starting to take the world by storm. Nigerian Deola Sagoe uses traditional prints and fabric in her designs, elevating African cloth with a modern twist. A stylistic trademark, Sagoe’s creations are often layered outfits. She has received nods of approval from the likes of Oprah and Will Smith.

deola sagoe

Folake Folarin Coker is another Nigerian designer and founder of the international brand Tiffany Amber. Coker’s cultural duality is visible in her designs. Twin sisters, Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, hail from Somalia. Together they founded their brand Mataano (which means twins in Somali) and their debut collection launched in 2009 getting them an interview via Skype on Oprah. Since then, they’ve received attention from Vogue Italia, Essence Magazine, and CNN International.

We’re rebuilding countries

If you’re into architecture, you might have heard of Olajumoke Adenowo. This Motherland Mogul found herself at the University of Ife at just 14 years old, got her first architectural degree by 19, was working and designing her very first building by 23, and three years later endeavoured to start her own firm.

Olajumoke Adenowo

Twenty years later, the 46 year old has worked on the design and construction of over 70 buildings. Her resume spans institutional buildings, estates, offices, auditoriums, and homes. Adenowo’s firm, AD Consulting Limited is internationally known and she even has her own radio show dedicated to mentoring women. One of the most successful Nigerian architects, Adenowo continues to rebuild Nigeria’s landscape with her vision.

We run countries now

As of June 2015, the Motherland has had four female heads of state. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a biodiversity scientist, was sworn in as the 6th president of the island nation of Mauritius. Dr. Gurib-Fakim now joins the ranks of Joyce Banda of Malawi (2012-14), Catherine Samba-Panza of Central African Republic (2014-), and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or “Ma Ellen” of Liberia (2006-).

joyce banda

Banda became president of Malawi after the death of its then president Bingu wa Mutharika. During her presidency, Banda sold the presidential jet to feed over 1 million people starving from food shortages. As an interim president, Samba-Panza was selected to govern her country during a nearly year-long power struggle between Christians and Muslims that has displaced about a quarter of the population.

Sirleaf, the first elected African female head of state and an inspiration to Samba-Panza, inherited a post-conflict Liberia. Her efforts to rebuild the country and her advocacy for women’s rights made her one of the three people to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

What about you? What makes you a part of #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou?

4 simple things you can do every day to upgrade your leadership skills

beyonce upgrade you

Leadership is one of those concepts that everyone loves to talk about but can’t quite define. You know what it is when you see it. As a young woman entering the workforce, you will have opportunities to lead over the course of your career. When that time comes, we want you to be ready.

Here are four tips that will help you to become an effective leader.

1. Listen to others’ ideas

Great listeners make outstanding leaders. Listening will help you understand the pains and opportunities in your company. The people that you work with are there for a reason. They have expertise and talents that are valuable. Listen to and value their perspectives. Having open conversations with them will spark invaluable ideas and teach you a thing or two.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss their recommendations. Yes, you are the boss, but that doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on positive contributions. Listen to advice from other leaders even if they are not in the same industry that you are in. This Forbes read provides even more insight on effective listening and leadership. 

2. Hold yourself accountable

As a leader, you are accountable not just to yourself but to your team and client base. The decisions you make have consequences that don’t just affect you.

If you fail to communicate effectively with your team, for example, business operations are negatively impacted. When you stop being accountable, inefficiencies arise. This will greatly hinder the fulfillment of the company’s vision.

3. Respect those who work with you

This is a basic concept that we all learned as children. Treat others exactly how you would want to be treated. Talk to your team members like the smart adults that they are. There is absolutely no need to be condescending, dismissive and rude to them.

Trust me, being an aggressive leader doesn’t scare employees into respecting you. It certainly doesn’t do their morale any favors. If you want them to do their best work, then you simply have to respect them. Remember that arrogance has never looked attractive on anyone. It only prevents people from helping you. This read on How to Earn Respect as a Leader provides more insight. 

4. Get your hands dirty

Working with your team is important. You can’t build a brand by eating, sleeping, and breathing delegation. Monitor the company’s social media channels. Respond to inquiries. Do the work that your team typically does on a daily basis. This will provide you with an opportunity to experience firsthand the challenges that they deal with.

Understanding this will give you valuable insight and inform your strategic decisions. It will also show your team that you are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get the work done. Try these 5 Tips For New Team Leaders.

Your personal leadership style will undoubtedly evolve over time. However, having strong principles and knowing the type of leader you’d like to be can help get you started on the right path.