Mandela Washington fellowship recipient, Zambu Lambu feels inspired after the US Secretary of State, John Kerry mentioned her name during opening remarks of the Presidential Summit in Washington recently.
By John Mokwetsi
“It was definitely a surprise to me. I did not know he would call out my name and cite me as one of the young leaders in Zimbabwe who had done well in their field of work,” Lambu said.
Lambu was part of 30 young Zimbabwean leaders who were selected to participate in the inaugural Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali), an initiative of US President Barak Obama announced in 2013.
Obama first launched Yali in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance, and strengthen civil society structures.
Lambu, beaming with pride, told The Standard: “It was interesting to hear such a powerful man rephrase my biography. I was glad he acknowledged Econet as well. That is where I have done most of my work.”
The remarks were heard at her offices in Harare as colleagues had communally watched through live streaming the address in Washington.
Kerry in paying tribute to her said: “I’m inspired by Zandile Lambu from Zimbabwe. She is leading the charge to promote inclusive economic growth. And Zandile hasn’t just spoken words about shared prosperity; she’s walked the talk.
“She’s used her position at Econet Services to create new trade opportunities for mobile money products in Africa. She’s partnered with businesses to provide mobile money services to local communities.
“You know how hard it is to get money into people’s hands or move it or control it. Well, there’s a way to do that now in this mobile technological world that we all live in. And she’s being creative and grabbing the best of that, and she’s volunteered to teach other young women how to design and develop mobile apps.”
But how was this taken by colleagues and friends back home?
“You will not be able to start to imagine the amount of phone calls and text messages I received when the world was shone on me,” Lambu said.
During her six weeks in the US as a Fellow, she took business and entrepreneurship courses at the prestigious Yale University.
Lambu said she has had valuable lessons in her bid to keep on improving and honing her business skills and spoke on the need for Africa to take ownership and build meaningful partnership that grow the continent.
Lambu recalls the wisdom: “In my time here, I learnt that collaboration is key. No organisation or country can solve complex problems on its own. Everyone sees opportunity in Africa except Africa.”