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The Pan-African tech guru: Chido Dzinotyiwei on the 4iR in Africa

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The Pan-African tech guru: Chido Dzinotyiwei on the 4iR in Africa

Chido Dzinotyiwei is a Zimbabwean-born, South Africa-based entrepreneur with a passion for venture creation.

Published 5 October 2023

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She is the co-founder of Vambo Academy, an educational technology platform that offers African language learning, translation, and knowledge services. She also co-founded Akayi, an ecosystem enabler for the Zimbabwean business ecosystem. Vambo Academy placed first at the 2022 Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education Intervarsity National Finals in the Tech Business category, and in 2023 Chido was recognised as one of 50 Rising Motherland Moguls in Africa by SheLeadsAfrica.Org.

Chido’s background is in commerce, and she completed her Master’s in development finance at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. The opportunity stood out to Chido because of its Pan-African agenda. Being in a room with scholars from all over the continent, all dedicated to improving their respective countries presented a unique opportunity for collaboration in both business and civil society. Her two main takeaways on leadership were understanding that you cannot be a successful leader if you can’t lead yourself, and understanding that you cannot be a successful leader if you don’t understand the ecosystem: businesses exist within contexts.

“I can’t just go to Gabon today and say I want to start a business without understanding how things work, even if I had the skills and passion to start with. The leadership sessions really helped me to contextualise my ambitions and to find a place to start.”

Intra-African trade has benefited from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) implemented on the 1st of January 2021. Chido says she’s excited to be living at a time when countries are leveraging each other’s strengths to work together to create new opportunities that better the lives of their citizens. She cites a Zimbabwe-Rwanda trade conference that recently took place as proof of it being a new day for African businesses: “New trade routes are being opened. New opportunities are being explored”.

Chido is acutely aware of the challenges associated with conducting business in an era of rapid technological advancement. She firmly believes that leaders on the continent must embrace a bolder approach and not shy away from emerging technologies like cryptocurrency.

“We can’t be behind forever. The fourth industrial revolution is enabling us to develop at the same pace as the developed countries, so why are we holding ourselves back? We are trying to drive ACFTA. How will we do that without the technology and the systems that can facilitate the financial side of the transaction?”

Chido hopes that as the Mandela Rhodes Foundation expands, its Pan-African focus will also grow, along with increased support for scholars from a broader range of African countries. This expansion enables even greater collaboration across diverse disciplines and nations.

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