As we enter an era named the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", the technology sector in Africa is on the rise. And at the forefront of this is one of Zimbabwe's most influential entrepreneurs, Heather Tinotenda Mavunga
As a software consultant, tech entrepreneur, writer, and coach, Heather Tinotenda Mavunga holds many diverse skills.
WorldRemit has strong links to Africa, and so Heather is of particular interest to us. During the interview, we touched on many subjects - from utilising skills to make an impact, to rehabilitation centres for the youth.
Hi Heather. Talk us through your journey to where you are today?
When I was young, we moved around a lot for my father’s work. We settled in Marondera when I was 11.
I loved books since I was a kid. Reading was my free passport into other cultures, countries, and worlds. Books sharpened my critical thinking skills and taught me to think for myself. After completing my Advanced Levels, I enrolled for a psychology degree with Monash University.
What were the challenges of living in the diaspora? What kept you going?
For a long time, I felt like an impostor. I kept on thinking; one day, they will find out that I don’t know anything. My fear grew as I was going up the ladder.
At times, I was self-sabotaging myself, so to overcome this, I had to find and listen to my inner voice.
I learned to run towards my fears and deal with them. This way, I found my balance.
I have been privileged to have strong mentors who have stood beside me as I took different steps in my career. They encouraged me to reflect on my character while opening up career opportunities for me. As a result, I highly encourage active mentorship.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell her that all her dreams are valid. I am a woman of many creative pursuits, so my mind loves to connect the dots and see patterns.
Now that I have a career that allows me to work on different things at the same time, I would tell my young self that it’s okay that you were into anthropology last week, but this week you want to know all about NASA and its mission in space. It is all going to make sense later.
Tell us a bit more about the highs, lows and key experiences of your career.
I am a software consultant at July 28 Consulting in Harare. As the Founder of Signature Rising Technologies, I have consulted for start-ups across Africa in the fields of digital marketing and product development in the past. I'm currently transitioning out of this role.
"If you have a business challenge, we can start a conversation as I enjoy building products and coming up with a strategy. I really get a kick out of the buzz of starting something new."
Today I consult start-ups in product development, investment and due diligence, PR and communications, software, business analysis, and product psychology.I used to doubt myself in the past, especially because I didn’t follow the traditional consulting pathway. I owe my consulting career to my curiosity, hard work and tenacity.
The highs of my career are interviewing Africa’s talented software entrepreneurs. Without an ounce of doubt, Africa is overflowing with talent.
Over the last two years, I spoke with CEOs who have built fin-tech products - now used by millions of people!
Do you have any other business ventures in the pipeline?
While embracing possibilities in technology, we have a digital-first approach. 2020 is a year that we turn ten years old, so it is extra special for us.
Over the last four years, we have partnered with Kofax International to automate business flow in Southern Africa for the audit confirmation process.
CaseWare Working Papers is another of our leading tech products. It’s used by over 25,000 users across Africa, and it automates financial statements that are IFRS and JSE compliant.
What advice would you give to Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs?
Stay focused and keep measuring the quality of your results.
African entrepreneurs have great potential. They can compete with the world. Take these companies as an example!
Nigerian Paystack is on its way to becoming a billion-dollar fin-tech company that helps merchants get paid on their websites.
CowTribe in Ghana is assisting farmers in receiving vaccinations for their cattle.
Investiv in Ivory Coast is helping farmers with precision in agriculture. This company uses drones to go over the fields and diagnose diseases.
The term #AfricaRising is not just a hashtag but an actual movement. We have the timing and strategic location on our side. African heritage, powerful and dignified, is our most significant advantage. Our DNA is royal; let's carry ourselves as who we truly are.
What is your message to people who are looking to invest in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is a hotbed of knowledge and talent that is crying out for investment. I would urge every investor interested in Zimbabwe to put an impact before profits.
In Zimbabwe, we are losing talented youth to drugs. The situation is hopeless - youth unemployment is almost 80%!
In my experience, digital skills-based initiatives are the fastest way for us to give youth a sense of purpose while unlocking opportunity. Innovation centres such as Impact Hub Harare already run tech-based initiatives that upskill youth. But we can do more.
We need to build rehabilitation centres for the youth. Prison is not the answer; opportunities are. Let's invest in the future generation, as we cannot afford to lose them to drugs and alcohol. Their future can still be improved!
Areas such as software development, design, user experience, digital marketing, and illustration are the best areas for investment.
Everyone can get involved - from buying and donating laptops or volunteering time to running a class.
WorldRemit’s role in #AfricaRising
The sustained economic growth of #AfricaRising is powered by many things – not least incoming remittances to the continent. That’s where we at WorldRemit come in. We offer a fast, secure and low-cost online way to send money into Africa.
We help the African diaspora send money home – to support families, friends and the wider community.
Using the latest technology, we deliver our services through our website and mobile apps and offer bank-beating exchange rates and low-cost fees. If you need to send money home to Africa, you’ll find it hard to find a better way.