Yvonne Marimo

Country: Zimbabwe/United Kingdom

Current Organization: Global African Business Women Network (GAWN)

Organization at the time you received Katie Fleming Award from Coady: Self-Employed Women’s Association of Zimbabwe (SEWAZ)

How did receiving the Katie Fleming award inspire you?

Receiving the award was a confirmation and affirmation that the work I was doing was needed. Whilst working for SEWAZ, we realized that women did not necessarily want aid or handouts. Women want more. Women want to work on projects or something that empowers them economically such as starting their own small businesses so that they can break themselves away from the shackles of poverty, ill health, violence, and discrimination. Women want to be ‘masters of their own destiny.’

The award inspired me to dream big. To reach out beyond the limitations of my own country or continent. I have been able to do this through the Global African Business Women Network, a digital platform that brings together African women entrepreneurs on the continent and those in the diaspora so that they can connect, share experiences and learn from each other.

What does your organization do, how does it help develop your community?

When SEWAZ ceased operations, I found myself at a very low point and discouraged. The women we worked with were left without any organizational support. Women need knowledge, training, information, and small grants to start their businesses. The hostile political environment exacerbated the situation so I had to find ways to continue my work.

Thank goodness for the internet, digital platforms, and social media. I began to realize that I did not necessarily need a physical office to do the work I loved. Using the power of the internet and social media, I founded the Global African Business Women’s Network, an international platform and forum for women who identify as African whether by citizenship, culture, or birth.

It is a network for African women who desire to transform their lives through personal empowerment and economic development. Brought together through digital and social media platforms, empowerment workshops and seminars, conferences, mentoring, coaching, and transformational retreats, we enable African women to connect and support each other to move their lives forward.

How did your studies at Coady improve your ability to be a change leader?

Studying at Coady gave me the knowledge, skills, and confidence I needed to complete my work within evidence-based frameworks and methodologies. I was empowered and driven to continue my work.  The Diploma in Development Leadership as well as the other training that I received enabled me to gain validity and credibility. Being at Coady gave me a sense of purpose. Purpose provides motivation and direction on a daily basis. Purpose is about finding meaning in what one does even in the face of struggles or challenges. The purpose to do my work gave me the power to push on and keep going on no matter how hard things become.

Women want to be ‘masters of their own destiny.’
The award inspired me to dream big. To reach out beyond the limitations of my own country or continent.

Yvonne Marimo

2011 Katherine Fleming International Development Award recipient