Farai Mubaiwa embodies the idea of leadership through action. She is passionate about building a better South Africa, acknowledging the youth as a crucial foundation in achieving this outcome.
Mubaiwa has dedicated herself to empowering young people through her involvement in several projects geared towards youth development, with a focus on tackling the unemployment crisis in the country.
At 27 years old, Mubaiwa has already accomplished a great deal — from obtaining her master of science degree in the political economy of emerging markets with distinction from the University of London to managing projects at The Aurum Institute, a leading African TB and HIV research and implementation organisation.
One of her main projects, Youth Health Africa, focused on limiting the spread of HIV and reducing the high levels of youth unemployment through education and skills development programmes.
In 2015, Mubaiwa founded the Africa Matters Initiative after witnessing the disparity between the public’s solidarity with France after the Charlie Hebdo attack, as well as the lack of support after the terror attack in Baga, Nigeria, a few days later.
Her goal is to change the African narrative by upskilling and educating young Africans to play their part in bettering their societies. “Young people are capable of leading. We are not the leaders of tomorrow. We are the leaders of today,” she says.
Mubaiwa is the youngest executive at Youth Employment Service (YES), a non-profit organisation that works with government and labour entities to create policies that promote job creation for young people in South Africa. As the chief partnerships officer, she works on strengthening relationships with key partners in civil society, government, youth development agencies and other collaborative stakeholders.
During her time at YES, she has taken on several strategic and operational teams, developing her teammates and sparking innovations and processes to better the organisation. She has also ensured that YES is actively involved with the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.
Mubaiwa believes that addressing the unemployment crisis in South Africa requires collaboration and structural changes, especially in education, beginning at the grassroots level.
She has taken up positions that make her an active collaborator in bringing about change, for example, attending a president-convened meeting of key stakeholders to discuss how to combat South Africa’s unemployment crisis and create opportunities for our unemployed youth at scale.
“We need to look at how we massify employment opportunities for unemployed youth, particularly for young black women, who are often excluded from the formal economy,” she says.
Despite the challenges she has faced in her career, she remains driven. Her advice to young black women is to believe in themselves.
“We need to know our worth, recognise our value and step into our power. We are powerful!”