Growing up in rural Zimbabwe, Unotida Nyoni and his friends enjoyed the simple pleasures of handmade toys and time spent together.
“Toys were whatever we had at our disposal,” Unotida says. “We would use abandoned bricks as toy cars, paper and strings as soccer balls, and clay as utensils. Everything we needed was right there.”
Unotida, a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, an author, a consultant and an award-winning speaker, is working today to provide his peers with the financial literacy skills they need to rise above his country’s challenges.
“In 2007, Zimbabwe was going through its worst economic recession,” Unotida says. “I could see the adverse effects of extreme poverty. I thought to myself: Zimbabwe and the rest of the continent need someone to teach others financial principles and help pull the region out of poverty.”
In his current role, Unotida is helping others to understand and attain financial security.
“I help individuals and organizations discover and maximize their earning potential,” Unotida says. “Using speeches, training, coaching, consulting and learning materials, we are equipping people with the skills they need to create real wealth for themselves and for future generations.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Unotida began hosting Zoom training sessions, both on slowing the spread of the virus and on financial literacy skills participants could learn in their downtime.
“As a way to encourage young people to stay at home, we introduced online classes to keep people occupied during the lockdown, both in Zimbabwe and around the world,” Unotida says.
Chief among Unotida’s concerns in past years has been providing for his family as he works to grow his business. To address this, he reached out to peers and mentors for guidance.
“I overcame my fear by talking to other people who followed a similar path,” Unotida says. “The Mandela Washington Fellowship provided me with the mentorship I needed to take a leap of faith. It’s a support system that’s still working for me.”
Unotida also encourages young adults to join clubs or associations in areas of interest.
“Start with your passion and work to meet a human need in that area,” Unotida says. “Then surround yourself with others going in the same direction. Learn from them.”
“I want to lift people out of poverty across the continent,” Unotida says. “I want to be the brother, the son, the father who empowers others to grow and to be the best they can be.”
Interested in Unotida’s work? Learn how you can build your financial literacy skills on our YALIEntrepreneurs page.
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