Tsitsi Masiyiwa

African philanthropist
and social entrepreneur.

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Tsitsi Masiyiwa is an African philanthropist and social entrepreneur who has devoted much of her life to empowering the lives of young people through education and technology. Tsitsi Masiyiwa started working in philanthropy in the early 1990s through the work of her husband, Strive Masiyiwa, in the telecommunications business in Zimbabwe. During that time, the country was gripped by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and many families lost breadwinners.

The impact of the pandemic touched the heart of Tsitsi Masiyiwa and she started supporting the children of employees and community members that would have passed on due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The impact of the pandemic was so dire that the Masiyiwa family attended and supported funerals of either an employee or a community member every other month and then it became every other week and then it became every other day.

From this experience, Tsitsi Masiyiwa dedicated her life to supporting the lives of young children especially orphans with the goal of providing these children another opportunity in life. Together with her husband, Strive Masiyiwa, Tsitsi Masiyiwa founded Higherlife Foundation in 1996, a non-profit organization that has heavily invested in Africa’s future through education. Over the years, Higherlife Foundation, has directly and indirectly supported over 250,000 children to access education services. Higherlife Foundation has become one of the largest scholarship program in Africa and thousands of children have gone on to receive tertiary scholarships to study at some of the top universities in the world.

In addition to supporting education initiatives, Higherlife Foundation also supported the response to the Cholera outbreak in 2008 in Zimbabwe, resuscitation of operations of the College of Medicine in Zimbabwe in the 2008-2010 period and provision of food packs to starving families during drought periods. Recently, Higherlife Foundation streamlined its strategy and operations to focus on identifying and nurturing orphans and vulnerable children and highly talented students to fulfil their potential through education. Higherlife Foundation has expanded operations and has in-country presence in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi. Tsitsi Masiyiwa’s work through Higherlife Foundation has had massive impact on the livelihood of the African population.

Driven by her passion for technology and innovation, Tsitsi co-founded Muzinda Hub, an entrepreneurship and innovation project based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Muzinda Hub is an incubator lab for youth digital skills development and business mentorship that leverages technology to promote youth entrepreneurship. Muzinda is the fastest growing tech hub in Sub Saharan Africa with more than 1,000 coders. The scale-up of Muzinda Hub initiatives is being supported by Econet Zimbabwe.

Tsitsi’s relentless efforts in promoting the use of technology in education also led her to develop Ruzivo, an online interactive digital learning platform targeted at primary and secondary school students. The platform reinforces the use of blended learning models in class, and has been designed such that it is scalable, to ensure that the business reaches students even in the most disadvantaged schools. The Ruzivo product offering is unique in that all content, exercises and tests were developed locally, based on the Zimbabwean national curriculum. Ruzivo is being rolled out in Zimbabwe jointly by Econet Zimbabwe and Higherlife Foundation and will provide online access to high quality education content to students across Zimbabwe. Plans to roll out Ruzivo in other countries are in place.

In her philanthropic work, Tsitsi Masiyiwa has worked with many local and international organizations dedicated to improving the livelihood of children. Most notably, Tsitsi has worked with World Vision, Imbuto Foundation, Let Girls Learn, ENDFund, PATH.

Tsitsi Masiyiwa also sits on the boards of PATH and ENDFund and is also a founding member of the African Philanthropy Forum. Tsitsi Masiyiwa and her husband are members of the Giving Pledge.

A Brief History Of Tsitsi's Life

1960's | 1970's

Tsitsi Masiyiwa was born 5 January 1965, in Harare Zimbabwe and youngest of five girls.

My dad and I when I was 9 years old

Dad and I when I was 9 years old
1980's

Tsitsi Masiyiwa attended her primary and secondary school education in Zimbabwe. She completed parts of her primary education at Chishawasha primary school. The remaining part of her primary and secondary education was completed at the Dominican Convent in Harare Zimbabwe. During her studies, Tsitsi was an avid hockeyand basketball player, representing Zimbabwe schools at regional tournaments.

At the age of 15 when selected to play for Zimbabwe schools basketball in the 80′s

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At the age of 15 when selected to play for Zimbabwe schools basketball in the 80′s

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Receiving full school colours for basketball in 80′s from my headmistress and History Teacher.

Receiving full school colours for basketball in 80′s from my headmistress and History Teacher.
 

Tsitsi Masiyiwa has Business Studies (Hons) degree from the University of Zimbabwe.

1990's

Tsitsi Masiyiwa attained an MBA from the University of Zimbabwe.

In 1994 Tsitsi was appointed Executive Director and Head of Empretec Zimbabwe; a joint programme sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Zimbabwe, through the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC). The programme’s goal was to help develop indigenous entrepreneurial capabilities, encourage linkages between SME’s and larger transnational corporations, stimulate cross-border ventures within the Southern African region, and build institutional foundations to help promote SME development.

Tsitsi Masiyiwa began her philanthropic activities in Zimbabwe during the early 1990s following the HIV/AIDS epidemic that affected the country. Following the death of many family breadwinners, Masiyiwa supported thousands of children and community members who had been left parentless and orphaned. She co-Founded Higherlife Foundation in 1996

With Pastor Franz praying for the late Vice President of Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo, and his wife (Mama “Mafuyana”) in the 90s. Next to Dr Joshua Nkomo in the navy blue, is my husband Strive. Amongst those standing is Dr DaudDube (also Dr Nkomo’s personal physician), who came as a member of our church delegation.

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2000's

In 2016, Morehouse College, an all-male institution and one of America’s oldest historically black colleges, presented Tsitsi Masiyiwa with an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters for her work in continuing to support the orphaned and vulnerable African children with a focus on education, healthcare and technology.

Morehouse Collage

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Morehouse Collage

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Morehouse Collage

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In 2016, the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA) honoured Tsitsi Masiyiwa with the Chairman’s honorary award, for her contribution to charitable causes and children’s welfare.

Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA)

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Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA)

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In 2016, the ONE Campaign named Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa as one of Five African power couples working together to end extreme poverty.