MEET RESPECT

The Mastercard Foundation - EARTH University Fellowship Program

Respect Rungano Musiyiwa

Country: Zimbabwe
Track: Entreprenuership
Project: Murerwa Agribusiness Innovation Center
Host company/organization: Udugu Institute
About position: Respect offers innovative agribusiness skills to farmers and facilitates the creation of collaborative, efficient and commercially viable enterprises. This will include a horticultural production system and online incubation platform.

Respect grew up in a rural environment in the northwest of Zimbabwe. His mom was 15 years old when she delivered him. “My mom had to leave school to have me and so did my dad. I grew up with my grandparents. I was born in a place of agriculture, which is the best economy of creativity.” His graduation project, Training School Platform for Rural Development in Murewa, Zimbabwe: Agricultural and Enterprise Skills for Smallholder Farmers, is an online agribusiness innovation and incubation hub meant to empower smallholder farmers with skills, markets, financial literacy, and co-working facilities towards establishing sustainable and viable agribusinesses. Over the course of his project, Respect had to interact with many different fields such as agriculture, business, technology, and entrepreneurship.

“I did my internship at the University of Florida in the Department of Plant Physiology. My professional objective was to study the effect of soil salinity on different varieties of citrus plants, mainly oranges.” Respect’s personal objective was to understand large-scale agricultural production in a developed country and then compare this system to food production systems in developing countries. “I selected this internship so that I could gain more experience and knowledge on crop production systems as well as in scientific research that will help me work with smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe after graduation.”

During his time at EARTH, Respect has gained more confidence in his ability to build a business. EARTH gave him the opportunity to become a global student.

It has been a good experience to meet people in Africa, Latin America, and learn new languages. At first, it was difficult to open my mind. I will always remember learning by doing at EARTH. – Respect

Respect is appreciative of the fact that he was able to work with those at EARTH who gave him opportunities, connections, and above all, the experience of working with a larger community. Though he struggled with his health and with learning Spanish over the years, the last four years have exposed him to the real world and equipped him well with business skills and agricultural knowledge to start a venture on his own.

Respect has exciting plans after graduation. He was selected to participate in the Business Incubator track of the Fellowship Program, a novel initiative that has been created in partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and EARTH University to facilitate recent African graduates’ transition from university to launch purposeful careers in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors in their countries of origin. As a Fellow, Respect will gain professional experience and receive mentorship at the Udugu Institute in Zimbabwe, his home country.

To his donors at the Mastercard Foundation, Respect wants to say, “Thank you so much for the great support towards my academic and professional development for the past four years. It has been four years of great transformation; I have developed into a complete person as I gained a lot of skills that range from agricultural scientific skills, entrepreneurship competences, rural innovation skills, communication skills, global citizenship, and multi-culturalism amongst a host of other life skills. I am very grateful.”

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