This is the story of how I started Impact Africa Trust, a not-for-profit organization that partners with young people who have ideas for business ventures but may lack the requirements to obtain capital. Impact Africa Trust connects this missing link between young people with sustainable ideas and funding opportunities by financially capacitating and supporting the registered organizations through project management, mentorship and connections to potential sponsors.
When I thought of the idea of starting Impact Africa Trust, my university friend Emmanuel Magara quickly came to my mind because I thought it was important to have Zimbabweans with diverse experience at the helm of the organization. Although we are now based in North America, Emmanuel and I have remained connected to our roots in Zimbabwe and we both share the vision of a better Africa: an Africa that creates opportunities for all.
I obtained a life changing opportunity in 2014 thanks to the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. I was given the opportunity to study for a masters degree in food and resource economics at the University of British Columbia, Canada. I completed the program in August of 2015.
Reflecting on the development gap between Canada and Zimbabwe, I noticed how hard working rural farmers were and how little return they received from their efforts. I always wondered: why? I also saw first-hand how many academically talented young people like me struggled to raise school fees, and even when they completed their secondary education with flying colors, they ended up working in fields that were available to them – not because they loved it, but because it was the only option available.
The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program removed that financial obstacle and made me realize how much I could contribute to global development. I came to the University of British Columbia and I learned, I connected, got inspired and trained myself to see the world in a global view. And that’s when I came up with Impact Africa Trust.
Many young people across Africa have viable business ideas that could transform the continent’s development. However, needless to say, the major limitations they face include lack of capital and other above-mentioned factors to jumpstart and accelerate their business ideas.
To access capital from banks and other financial institutions like banks, there is need for borrowers to provide collateral security and capital in the first place. The borrowers, as in most cases need to match up the loan with some capital injection to have a shared risk. Banks who are potential financiers also need young people to meet the credit conditions that are meeting up the principal and interest payments for their loans. The stringent checklist is just not an exception for young people. This is where Impact Africa steps in with the wealth of experience in taking through the selected ventures to pass these stringent test. The targeted beneficiaries for Impact Africa Trust are the youth led ventures in agribusiness, education and healthcare.
Going forward, I believe I am part of the larger story to change the face of Africa. The future is not so far away from us: it is ultimately the sum total of those small, selfless decisions we make today. I chose to be among those young people who champion the positive story of development in Africa. Impact Africa Trust revives hope to the next generation of young social innovators- by walking them towards their vision- a vision of hope and community transformation!
Isaac is a MasterCard Foundation scholar and recent Master of Food and Resource Economics graduate from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Isaac is also the Co-Founder CEO for Impact Africa Trust and Strategic Business Advisor of the flagship UBC African Business Forum. First published on the MasterCard Foundation Website on November 3, 2015