Tendai Muneno-Manyozo has always viewed success to be measured by the number of young people she has impacted with through her life directly and indirectly.
She is a co-founder of Maphunziro265, a registered youth organisation that provides underprivileged youths with access to mentorship, career counselling and coaching; job readiness skills, academic scholarships, personal branding and training.
The 28-year-old co-founded Maphunziro265 in 2016 in partnership with her now husband, Chimwemwe Manyozo.
To date, the organisation has a network of over 150 volunteers who are spread out across different districts in the country.
It has over the years raised over $3 000 in scholarships which are supporting over 30 different needy students in government secondary schools.
“Youth and women development is my life-long passion. I would like to see all young people, especially girls in Malawi and beyond get support and access to the required knowledge and resources to enable them translate their education into viable livelihoods, reaching their fullest potential in the process and contributing to the development of the country,” Tendai says.
Since its establishment, Maphunziro 265 has reached to over 7 000 youths across Malawi through mentorship programmes, motivational talks, workshops and trainings.
In Lilongwe, the organisation has adopted three schools—Chinsapo CDSS, Kabwabwa CDSS and Nkomachi CDSS where they run their mentorship programme.
This is a year-long programme where students are provided with a safe space and are taken through life skills, career guidance, coaching and health education using methods that are participative and interactive.
The mentorship sessions are conducted once every two weeks for the entire duration of the school calendar.
Tendai prides herself with the establishment of Kabwabwa Mentorship Club, which is in its second year.
Some of her graduates include students who, with support from the club, have gone on to open their own business enterprises in cities such as Lilongwe.
“The sessions are usually facilitated by Maphunziro265 volunteers and once in a while, external facilitators are invited according to their topics of expertise,” Tendai explains.
She developed a passion for youth development following a motivational talk while in Form Two.
“We had Elizabeth Pullu, [former miss Malawi] who shared with us her journey from secondary school through university and how she got the crown. She went to Bunda College. I remember from then on, something shifted within me and I told myself that I, too, would work hard and go to university. And, eventually, I went to Chancellor College. I told myself that I, too, would devote myself to motivating and inspiring students by sharing with them my life story just as I was inspired by Pullu. From them on, I would go to secondary schools and to deliver motivations talks to students,” she says.
Through interactions with secondary school students, Tendai learnt that one-off motivational talks were not as beneficial to students.
She noted that many students required continuous coaching and career counselling to build trust in a mentor, to open up and eventually believe in themselves and work towards their dreams.
This is how the idea of Maphunziro265 came to be.
Tendai believes in the power of well designed, interactive and high-quality workshops as platforms for inspiring youths into action.
This is why in 2019, Tendai, together with three colleagues [Chimwemwe Manyozo, Tendai Banda and Charles Lipenga], designed and delivered a series of workshops titled ‘Upgrade Yourself’.
The workshops were conducted in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu and reached over 300 youths with practical knowledge, tips and exercises on how they can build their own personal brands using resources available to them.
The workshops further supported youths with skills on how to market themselves and stand out in an ever shrinking, highly competitive job market and business sector.
As a young professional woman, through her career growth and development, Tendai noticed how young women face challenges such as lack of role models and mentors in leadership positions in the workplace.
She observes that women require mentors, connectors and promoters who will give them visibility, talk about their accomplishments, put up their names when big opportunities come around and promote them for stretch opportunities.
“I remember when I completed my master’s degree, I got a job with Unicef because a colleague shared with me the advert and supported me through the application process. Had it not been for this colleague, I likely never would have come across this opportunity. It is for this reason that I designed and hosted the Young Professional Women’s Mixer,” she says.
The Young Professional Women’s Mixer is a workshop targeting young professional women designed in February 2020, through Maphunziro265.
It took the form of interactive, highly engaging and thought-provoking workshop meeting. It brought out young professional women from all professions in Lilongwe, where young women speakers shared their insights and provided examples from their life experiences.
Tendai’s journey has not been without challenges, though. Her greatest challenge was the lack of career coaches and guidance on how to make positive choices.
“While at Chanco studying for a BA Humanities degree, the perception was that the degree is useless and its holders amount to nothing further than teaching. I bought into this. I also remember once in my early career, I worked so hard on an interview which had three stages. I made it to the final round only to be dropped. I was so demotivated and crushed. It affected my confidence and productivity. I wish I had someone who would have encouraged me and challenged me by saying that there are several opportunities ahead of me and that this failure did not define me,” she adds.
Tendai did her education at Marymount Secondary School where she graduated in 2006. Thereafter, she went to Chanco.
She later followed her passion in youth development and worked in different capacities with Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Plan International and Save the Children International.
In 2015, she took a break from work, after securing the Chevening scholarship and obtained an MA in Development Studies from the University of Sussex-Institute of Development Studies (United Kingdom) where she graduated in 2018.
The same year she returned home and worked with Unicef. Tendai is a 2009 International Youth Fellowship (IYF) fellow and has recently been selected as part of the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship programme of the Young African Leaders Initiative.
She believes everyone has the ability to make something of value out of themselves, “all that is required is for someone to believe in these dreams and provide encouragement and an environment that fosters their fulfillment”.