Higherlife Foundation is excited to share that our Co-Founders – Mr. and Mrs Masiyiwa — have pledged $100 million over the next five years to fund rural entrepreneurs across Zimbabwe. This initiative seeks to re-invigorate the rural sector in Zimbabwe and will fund projects started by rural entrepreneurs, or those entrepreneurs willing to focus on rural areas.
Though kicking off in Zimbabwe, the intention is to expand this initiative across Africa over time, realizing our co-founders’ vision of a thriving Africa in which our rural sectors boost economic productivity, strengthen entrepreneurship, and enhance livelihoods for all.
The pledged funds will scale up an existing programme that has been going on for the last three years and has already seen Steward Bank disburse $3 million in rural finance projects through a USAID guarantee facility, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as technical partner. Small businesses and cooperatives have received loans throughout the country to start ventures such as poultry production, with most of the money directed to projects run by women.
The $100 million grant, which comes from the Masiyiwas’ personal money and financial resources (not from the Econet business), will be administered by Steward Bank as an agent to assess, review and disburse the loans. The Masiyiwas have called on philanthropists around the world to match their grant and help rural areas in Africa generate income and jobs.
For several months now, Mr. Masiyiwa, who has almost 4 million followers on Facebook, has been talking about what he refers to as “ReImagineRural”, in which he calls on young people to focus their entrepreneurship energy on rural areas in Africa.
Steward Bank CEO Dr. Lance Mambondiani said the bank was already equipped with most of the infrastructure to lend the money and would soon call on interested beneficiaries to submit their projects.
Stay tuned to learn more about this exciting initiative.