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Social entrepreneur bridges literacy divide

Washington Fellowship
Social entrepreneur and human rights activist James Bayanaisays his mission is to see the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” reduced.

Social entrepreneur and human rights activist James Bayanaisays his mission is to see the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” reduced.


Through the youth foundation he established, the Zimbabwe Youth Development Foundation Trust; James is working to empower young underprivileged Zimbabweans by providing appropriate learning resources.

He is travelling to the United States as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  One of 30 Zimbabwean Washington Fellows, he will spend six weeks taking courses on civic leadership at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“As the adage goes  ‘knowledge is power,’ I hope my studies will equip me with the vital knowledge and skills necessary to lead a successful organization,” he says. He says his time as a Washington Fellow will enable him to acquire the skills to develop effective strategies, empower others, and create powerful results.

James earned a Bachelor of Law Honors Degree at the University of Zimbabwe and chose a now familiar path to the legal profession- activism.  “Having specialized in human rights and humanitarian law during my legal studies and coming from a community where women’s rights are not respected due to a patriarchal system, I felt an obligation to fight for the promotion of the rights of women, gender equality and women’s education,” he says.

Realizing that the education system in Zimbabwe has been severely affected by the country’s economic and social turmoil and the high levels of computer illiteracy, he had to take corrective action.  Upon his return to Zimbabwe, he will “spearhead a project to improve literacy and computer literacy in rural communities through the establishment of community resource centers.”

“These will be multifaceted resources comprised of computer centers and conventional libraries and will allow access to children from various communities for educational, recreational and informative purposes,” says James.

With the assistance of Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project (BBALP), he raised a scholarship fund for 25 less privileged, but exceptional rural children in Chirumanzu rural district and has also partnered with Tutu Desks (Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Foundation) for the provision of over 20,000 portable school desks to rural schools in Zimbabwe.

Through his organization, James is currently involved in a program called Zuva Rabuda/ Sunrise. The project seeks to promote literacy in marginalized rural communities of Zimbabwe through providing basic educational facilities to rural schools. “As the sun rises it enlightens the world and gives hope for the future,” he states.  Just like the rising sun project Zuva Rabuda, seeks to help Zimbabwe’s marginalized communities become part of the global village.