Environmental activist and award winning innovation entrepreneur, Verengai Mabika, says programs such as the Washington Fellowship generate the confidence youth need to attain greater heights.
“It turns theory into practice and that’s what we need to deal with the complex challenges facing Africa in the 21st century.”
Verengai is one of the 30 young Zimbabweans selected to participate in President Obama’s 2014 Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI). He wants to use the opportunity to sharpen his skills to develop Zimbabwe’s capacity to maximize Africa’s untapped opportunities.
“My dream is to help create the next breed of social entrepreneurs, who are conscious of the natural environment and can effectively tackle climate change,” he says.
During the Fellowship, Verengai will complete six weeks of academic coursework in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin.
An Ashoka Global Fellow and member of the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Forum, Verengai is a young leader in climate change, social innovation and sustainable development, with a keen interest in empowering youth. In 2009, he founded the Development Reality Institute (DRI) which manages the first Climate Change Virtual School in Africa. The school has an annual enrollment of about 2,000 students from 30 countries across Africa.
DRI’s mission is to build our ability to deal with the effects of climate change; this is achieved through capacity strengthening, policy analysis, knowledge management and program interventions using cutting edge information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.
Says Verengai: “Upon my return, I plan to expand my program, the Climate Change Virtual School in Africa and across Zimbabwe. I hope to reach 10,000 participants per month and to expand the social innovation fund for exceptional new ideas to US $1 million each year. I am very much interested in working with more Zimbabwean schools, especially in hard to reach communities.”
Verengai holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy (Social Development) and pursued undergraduate studies in Rural and Urban Planning as well as Water and Sanitation. He holds several prominent positions in professional organizations and leads both the Internet Society (Zimbabwe Chapter) and the Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planners (ZIRUP).
He also sits on the technical advisory board of the Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV and AIDS and is a member of the Zimbabwe National Manpower Advisory Council advisory board.