By: Bongani Mwonzora
Trueman is one of the rising young entrepreneurs who are doing disruptive things in Zimbabwe. Here is an interview that he recently had with one of our mentees Bongani Mwonzora who is currently doing pre-varsity at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA’)
B.M (Bongani Mwonzora)Please tell us about your educational journey and where you are now?
T.M (True man Mabumbo) Learnt at St. Ignatius College from 2015-18 (Form 1-4) then took a gap year taking an intensive leadership training program at the STAR Leadership Academy (2019) then proceeded to Advanced Level at St. George’s College currently studying Upper 6.
B.M: What is it that you love about your educational journey?
T.M: Having to meet different people who have impacted my life in many different ways. My educational journey has largely shaped the person I am today and who I want to be.
B.M: What are some of the challenges that you have met along?
T.M: The normal challenges I guess having to balance school stuff and extracurricular activities because I do quite a lot outside of school.
B.M: Please tell the World about your initiative.
T.M: Dzidzo Paden is an automated WhatsApp-based chatbot that distributes academic resources to students who do not have regular access to the internet. It was initiated as a way to bridge the gap and neutralize the disparities that exist in our education model. It is trying to take a step in the direction of providing an inclusive approach to our educational system through catering for the underprivileged. By leveraging the most popular social media platform in Zimbabwe it seeks to provide a low-cost alternative to the otherwise exorbitant online learning.
B.M: What made you think of that as a solution
T.M: Saw a meme with a child who was holding two water containers with a caption that read ‘we are not against online learning but what about us’ that made me realize a lot of students were unable to learn during this global pandemic and in access to educational resources was still a major challenge. That prompted me to act and think of solutions.
B.M: Are there any challenges that you faced with your initiative? Which ones
T.M: In access to financial and human resources. Essentially I didn’t have the money to cover all the expenses and I also didn’t have a team to work with. And I also didn’t have the technical skills needed to program this.
T.M: We have close to 40’000 users with about 30’000 using the system daily.
B.M: What are your plans for upscaling?
T.M: In terms of Zimbabwe we want to be able to get resources for Grade 1s to Upper 6s in our system. We also want to create a more interactive chatbot mainly for primary school kids… So that they are more engaged when they are learning. And then Dzidzo Paden as an organization will continue to find out more ways of adopting an inclusive model to our education system to continue bridging that gap and ensuring that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed.
B.M: What advice can you give to your entrepreneurs in our continent out there who are embarking on various initiatives?
T.M: The most important thing is to understand the problem you are solving and finding ways in which you can solve that problem that is contextually relevant for the audience you are creating the product or service for. Entrepreneurship especially for profit-making isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme you need to be resilient and constantly find opportunities to learn.
B.M: To whom do you attribute your success story?
T.M: Dr. Tamuka Chidyausiku, my family and friends, UNESCO, and God the Almighty who has always empowered me in my endeavors.