Godfrey Mureriwa

Ashoka Fellow
Zimbabwe,
Fellow Since 1993
ZUBF

Citation

This profile was prepared when Godfrey Mureriwa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Godfrey Mureriwa is building a national rural youth self-employment movement to redress the dramatic lack of job opportunities for Zimbabwe's dropouts. Of the approximately 300,000 youth leaving school each year, the formal economy is absorbing less than ten percent, most of these from among urban youth. Forty percent of the Zimbabwean population, which is mostly made up of educated young people, is unemployed. In the near total absence of government education or training programs, the overwhelming majority of rural youth are completely neglected and constitute a political time bomb quietly ticking toward detonation.
Godfrey's response to this growing crisis is the Zimbabwe Unemployment Youth Benefit Fund, the first private nonprofit rural youth employment program in the country. The Fund empowers young people by training them in job creation strategies, small enterprise management and job search skills. It also provides start-up loans below market rates using a variation on the Grameen Bank's peer collateral methodology.
The key to Godfrey's approach is that it reaches out to the youth while they are still in school and organizes them into local Fund chapters. It is the chapters that take responsibility for hosting training programs. While the Fund provides the curriculum and the trainers, the local chapters organize training venues and follow-up activities. Club members guarantee one another's start-up loans. "Because the young people own and manage their own chapters," says Godfrey, "the whole process of livelihood training and business start up depends upon youth initiative. The first lesson of the Fund is that you must take responsibility for your own livelihood."
In preparing the youth to start ventures, Godfrey orients them to consider the needs and opportunities within their own communities. What might they do in the way of a livelihood-creating venture that simultaneously addresses their community's social and economic problems? Starting a community nutrition garden will create employment and improve nutritional health. A small furniture carpentry shop in a village might meet local furniture needs while at the same time creating employment and thus reducing migration
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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