Respect Rungano Musiyiwa

Mvurwi, Mashonaland CentralZimbabwe

´Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do - Nelson Mandela´ Born and bred in Chiweshe Rural area, Respect Musiyiwa has had his own share of misfortunes whilst growing up. He was born of a 15 year old mother and he lost his father to HIV/AIDS when he was only 10 years old. His uneducated peasant mother struggled to pay his school fees and provide for him. Respect managed to come out with flying in all his studies. Sadly, he lost his mother to HIV/AIDS when he was still a second year student at the University of Zimbabwe. The death of his mother marked the end of his education and he had to return to Chiweshe to face life all by himself. Social evils related to being an illegitimate child and stigma also brought its package of drawbacks for him. Nonetheless; being an orphan and a school dropout did not make Respect quit; he kept his dream alive. The negativity in his peasant farming community stimulated him to rise above what is often labelled as ‘charity cases’. He was inspired by the diversity, potential and capacity of marginalised communities such as his own and envisioned a world where there is zero hunger and poverty through community based participatory initiatives. The young man did not waste his time chasing after the wind and job hunting like he had done before. Respect opted for innovation and social entrepreneurship; he decided to create something sustainable and beneficial to his community and many other youths who were also like him. He formed a community youth group, Youth Network Club, sadly it was caught up in the political chaos and was destroyed. This set back was nothing to him for his determination was strong. He re-strategized and formed the Youth Initiative Against Marginalisation, this too succumbed to political instability. Eventually, his breakthrough came when he founded the Centre for Agro-entrepreneurship and Sustainable Livelihoods Trust (CASL). CASL´s success speaks for itself; it has changed his life and transformed his community. From a poor peasant rural young man, Respect has risen to become a successful social entrepreneur. Respect significantly participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Week Zimbabwe (2012). He scooped the prestigious National Young Social Entrepreneur Award US $5000 grant supported by the Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust to pilot test his social enterprise in 2012. Respect was also awarded a US $50 000 grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme- UNDP to launch and market validate his social enterprise in 2013. During the same year he was honoured with the Empretec Trust Scholarship for entrepreneurship development. Also, in 2015 he received the National Young Farmer Innovation Award and participated in the Boost Fellowship for entrepreneurship development. Following his participation in the US Embassy Zimbabwe Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship (2016) Respect was selected to take part in the Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) Southern Africa Fellowship. Musiyiwa represented his community in the following forums; Zimbabwe National Young Leaders Summit (2012), COMESA Youth Summit on Climate Change (2012), National Climate Change Response Strategy Consultations (2013), National Migration Policy Consultations (2015), SADC Regional Water Strategy IV Conference (2015), National Water Policy Conference (2015), Africa Youth Climate Change Conference (2015), 5th Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference (2015), Global Network for Disaster and Risk Reduction Conference East and Southern Africa (2015) among other several platforms. Furthermore; he served in the following boards as a youth representative: Zimbabwe Youth Council (Mashonaland Central Province) he was a board member responsible for facilitating projects (2012- 2015), Mvurwi Community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) steering committee (2013-2016), Mvurwi Local Environment Action Plan Committee (2014-2016) and in the Mvurwi Disaster and Risk Reduction Committee (2014-2016). Today he thrives as an Agricultural Engineering student at EARTH University (MasterCard Scholar) where he is acquiring more skills and knowledge pertaining to sustainable agriculture. Musiyiwa is indeed proving that one can rise above their circumstances and he continues to advocate for zero hunger in Zimbabwe and the world at large.