Zimbabwe’s telecoms entrepreneurs (yeah they are kind of a tag team) Tsitsi and Strive Masiyiwa have been recognised by the British Prime Minister Theresa May for their work in the education of underprivileged children through the Higher Life Foundation, the non profit they started way back in 1996, even before Econet became operational.
Their work in education
The Higherlife Foundation pays school fees for 20 000 students annually in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, who they call “history makers”.
In 2013, Tsitsi and Strive established a $6.4 million scholarship fund that sends students to Morehouse College in the United States. They have developed an online platform, ‘Ruzivo Digital Learning’, which provides curriculum-based digital learning resources and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students every month.
The couple also co-founded ‘Muzinda Hub’ in 2014, which is tackling unemployment in Zimbabwe by training over 2 500 young people in digital skills and IT programming.
What is the award
They have received the ‘Points of Light‘ recognition by the prime minister. This is a daily recognition given by the British Prime Minister to someone in the UK who is volunteering in some capacity to make a difference in the life of others/the community and inspiring others in the process. Each day the prime minister reads out the name of the recipient for that day. Tsitsi and Strive are the 925th and 926th winners of the award.
The Points of Light award in the UK has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Anyone who knows someone who is volunteering somewhere in the UK can write to the prime minister nominating that person to be awarded. It can be a doctor volunteering to restore monuments in their spare time or a musician giving a voice to lonely people, the idea behind the award is to celebrate and encourage volunteerism.
The Prime Minister’s thoughts
In a personal letter to the winning couple, Theresa May wrote:
By founding the ‘Higherlife Foundation’ you have demonstrated your shared commitment to improving the learning opportunities of children across Africa. You should be enormously proud of your tireless work supporting hundreds of thousands of children to improve their life chances by accessing quality education and training
In response the Masiyiwa’s said:
(We) are greatly honoured to receive the daily Points of Light award from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mrs Theresa May. It is with great humility that we receive this award on behalf of our children, our group of companies and Higherlife Foundation. We are just the face of the incredible work done by the Higherlife Foundation team and all our partners, whom we consider the true heroes in spearheading this work.
Helping the orphans and the socially and economically distressed in our communities is anchored in our faith which reminds us that it is a blessing to give and that to whom much is given much is required. Through Higherlife Foundation we have managed to directly and indirectly impact over 250 000 children in Africa we plan to do much more. We envision an Africa in which young people find their vocation and are positioned to develop their communities for global impact and we believe this can be achieved in our lifetime.
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