In this section:

Stories

Farai Mubaiwa: Strategic planning

Farai Mubaiwa: Strategic planning

Turning ambition into action

How do you move from local or regional, to expanding across a whole continent? Queen’s Young Leader, Farai Mubaiwa, tells Leading Change how her organisation, Africa Matters, is scaling up its work across Africa.

“In the first two years of us running we didn’t have a strategic plan. We would just meet at the end of the year to decide what we wanted to do and then share those minutes with everyone.”

Farai Mubaiwa is describing how the project she co-founded with Reanne Oliver in 2015, used to operate.

Africa Matters is a youth-led organisation committed to empowering young Africans to change the narrative through leadership skills, capacity building, and community-impact projects.  It creates opportunities for Africans to talk about issues and works to get fairer reporting in the global media.

So how does an organisation like that expand across thousands of miles?

Reaching your target audience

Farai got her answer in a skype session with Andy Young, on the Leading Change course during her Queen’s Young Leaders year.

“It was fantastic,” she says. “We devised that the best way to reach our audience is to empower young people.”

Over an hour on Skype, Farai and Andy drew up a plan for an ambassadors’ programme.

“Then I took it back to the team and we put a timeline to it.”

Africa Matters activist with sign saying "For how long will African lives be cast aside? #Africamatters"

The programme was launched in January 2018 and is key to helping Africa Matters scale up its operations.

“After we launched it,” says Farai, “We had so many people saying, ‘What about Ghana? What about Nigeria? We need this here! And that’s so great for us because we can see this interest.”

Ambassadors represent Africa Matters in their own country. There are nine in total – three in Kenya, two in Rwanda, two in Namibia and two in Zimbabwe.  

“All Ambassadors are under 35,” says Farai, “with the youngest being 16. They have diverse interests in youth development from women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), to social justice training centres.”

Ambassadors organise workshops and school talks, connect with other organisations and experts, and so contribute to the growth of the wider organisation as well as benefitting their communities.

To do this, they receive online training in:

  • the Africa Matters culture and operations
  • basic skills and leadership development,
  • women's empowerment
  • and social entrepreneurship.

“We want to get the young people to form their own Africa Matters using our mentorship and our skills to impact their communities,” Farai explains.

Participant's notes from an Africa Matters workshop on feminism

Participant's notes from an Africa Matters feminism workshop

Formulating a strategy

During her Queen’s Young Leaders year, Farai was paired up with mentor, Bill Downing, through the Queen’s Young Leaders Mentoring Programme. Bill helped her to devise strategy for Africa Matters over the next three years, looking at four areas of work:

  • social media
  • talks in schools
  • workshops
  • and the annual summit.

Social media

In 2017 Africa Matters published articles on its social media platforms commenting on African issues, every three days, written in English.

But there are many languages spoken across Africa – not just English. The new plan aims to increase the number of writers, publish pieces more frequently and in more languages, starting with Swahili, Portuguese and French as well as English.

“By end of 2020, we want to ensure we have writers who use all those different languages who can write thought pieces around the Continent and diaspora.”

Talks in schools

Africa Matters had only just started doing school talks and had only done four by June 2017. By the end of January they had upped that to 60 talks – that were either planned or had already taken place.

The key to increasing the number of talks in schools was getting the right number of speakers.

“One of the guys in the team said we need about six speakers who do ten school talks each – not just in South Africa but in Zimbabwe, and Namibia,” says Farai.

She adds that it’s easy to get schools to welcome you as a motivational speaker. “I don’t think schools have enough young people speaking to their young students.”

Four girls following an Africa Matters school talk

Girls following an Africa Matters school talk

Workshops

The Ambassadors Programme has also helped Africa Matters to increase the of number workshops it runs on:

  • women in leadership and African feminism
  • and leadership for modern Africa.

“We said we want to increase the amount of workshops we do,” says Farai, adding that with the Ambassadors’ programme, “we can do more workshops in different parts of the continent”.

African Feminisms Workshop with Code4CT

Lauren Hess, Head of Media, facilitating the African Feminisms Workshop with Code4CT

Towards a Better Africa

“We want to have an even larger summit,” says Farai. “We usually have a summit in October. It’s called Towards a Better Africa.”

She adds that this year it will take place in Johannesburg and it will the last year it is held in South Africa. “Then we need to take it to Namibia or to Zimbabwe.”

Panellists and speakers at the 2017 Towards a Better Africa Summit

Panellists and speakers at the 2017 Towards a Better Africa Summit

The future

Farai is studying for a masters at Kings College, University of London at the moment, and isn’t sure what the future holds – just that she wants to continue making change.

“Africa Matters will continue to be a huge part of my life, and ideally, I’d like that one day I work for Africa Matters full time but – until we get there – that I find some role where I can make tangible change.”

Towards a Better Africa conference flyer

Africa Matters is a youth-led organisation committed to empowering young Africans to change the narrative through leadership skills, capacity building, and community-impact projects.  It creates opportunities for Africans to talk about issues and works to get fairer reporting in the global media.