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Celebrating women in leadership: Natalie Jabangwe

With over 11 years of experience in FinTech, Natalie Payidamwoyo Jabangwe is the youngest chief executive to run a mobile money business in Africa. Jabangwe is a computer engineer by profession who attained an Executive MBA at the world-renowned Imperial College London in the United Kingdom. Her technology background and business acumen set the stage for her career.

Natalie Payidamwoyo Jabangwe

Natalie Payidamwoyo Jabangwe

She is the general manager and executive head of EcoCash — Zimbabwe’s leading and second fastest growing mobile money service in Africa of telecoms giant, Econet Wireless. She is married and has one daughter, Makatendeka (affectionately known as Popina).

By the time she was in her second year in 2004 at Middlesex University, UK, Jabangwe received the Mayor of London’s Leadership Exchange scholarship after coming as the top excelling female student, a scholarship which earned her a place at Spelman College in Atlanta, one of the best female African American institutions in the United States. The scholarship came with an opportunity to intern in the mayor of Atlanta’s office, serving directly in Shirley Franklins office — Atlanta’s first female mayor. At the age of 21, Jabangwe was responsible for developing the city of Atlanta’s first information technology security policies.

During this time of her career development, within the recent five-year period, Jabangwe balanced the demands of studying for that rigorous world class MBA programme and developing National Cash Register’s digital payments strategy. She also made an acute career move after being head-hunted by Econet Wireless, which prompted her to relocate to Zimbabwe in January 2014. She said she has never been more humbled and grateful to be serving in what is arguably Zimbabwe’s most innovative firm — EcoCash.

“Having worked in different parts of the world, a common challenge faced by female professionals, especially in male-dominated industries, is prejudice,” she said.

“If you push very hard, it can be easily construed as aggression; our male colleagues hardly ever face that challenge. There is often a conflict between the societal expectations around women and that of our individual ambitions. There will always be some prejudice and it’s important to learn how to overcome it and move on, just as I did early on in my life and career.”

Jabangwe said a good leader or manager, has the ability to coach, mentor and transfer their skills to the people watching, serving and following them.

“It’s important to be a leader who takes others along with them. Intuition is a woman’s most powerful asset. Intuition combined with logic, makes for some of the most rewarding and accurate line of judgement,” she said.
“I believe I’m still a work in progress, but thus far, being a mother and the youngest chief executive to run the fastest growing mobile money service in Africa has been a blessing and an honour. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.”

She said her greatest source of inspiration was chairman and CEO of Xerox, Ursula M Burns who is the first black American woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

“I resonate with her journey, as a woman in technology which is a largely male-dominated industry. What inspires me the most is her courage to rise above prejudice of being female, black and of being raised poor. Not only has Burns done well for herself, she has brought others along with her,” she said.

“To the next generation I leave these words of encouragement. ‘Don’t think twice when it comes to following your dreams and ambitions, just do it, diligently! Get a support network; you will need it along the journey. Most importantly, be authentic, your intuition is an asset, use it to guide your decisions. Above all, reflect and connect with God, as you go through life – that has been my greatest source of strength and direction’.”

I want to be remembered as a great contributor to the economic development of nations and a champion in developing the potential of others.

Woman Excel is an exciting forum created by women for women with the purpose of empowering women in every sphere of their lives. Woman Excel embraces women from all walks of life and can help you break out of mediocrity to greatness!

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