Our Motimagz online correspondent Keegan Chipato for a one on one interview with Tadzie Madzima to talk more about her journey and life in building one of the most formidable and influential youth organization in the country. Below is the extract from the interview:
Tadzie you are profoundly multifaceted! To start off with, you are an award winning Life & Career Coach, Speaker, Youth-Led Innovation specialist and Social Change Advocate among many other things. Your vast credentials are clearly indicative of a highly gifted and determined woman. How much credit would you apportion to your upbringing for your success today?
My life and the lives of my siblings were shaped by my mother, a courageous and wonderful woman, and by my grandmother, who helped raise us. Inspiring in her tenacity and hard work ethic, my mom has always been my role model. To make ends meet and accommodate everyone’s schedules, she put in double the effort. She inspired me and proved to me that women can accomplish what they set their minds to. My community, support system or tribe have also helped me to push boundaries. My grandmother, mother, pastor, and friends are all women, and each has been a strong pillar of support for me throughout my life. My success is also due to the values that I live by. These values serve as my north star, keeping me focused and determined even when the going gets tough. To achieve this goal, I have had to put in a lot of time and effort, work hard, and persevere, all of which are qualities I believe I received from my mom. I’ve never been one to give up easily.
Over the years, you managed to establish an award winning organisation that happens to be one of the best Youth organisations in the entirety of Zimbabwe. Could you kindly explain to us what exactly pushed you to create this organisation?
My mother is most certainly a superwoman having raised 3 children on her own, but it was most certainly not easy for her. For most single parents, their priority is on making sure the needs of their children are met and their time is usually stretched. The economic situation in the country is forcing many parents to concentrate mainly on making sure their children are fed and sheltered. One can only imagine the difficulty of juggling work, child care, and personal time. Her hectic schedule did not always allow her to provide me and my siblings the emotional and professional support she might have desired. The fact that I could see how many hours my mom was putting in as she juggled two roles made me not want to add to her workload or burden her.
Furthermore, the public school I attended did not provide me with career or mental health counseling. After-school programs, mental health assistance, and career guidance are extremely uncommon in Zimbabwe’s public schools. There aren’t very many public schools that offer career counseling, and the ones that do tend to offer conventional career counseling to all their students. To be successful, [you] need to enter either the arts, the sciences, or the commercials sector. There is a lack of personalized coaching for young people that takes into consideration their interests, passions, talents, personality and strengths.
My life experiences led me to believe that there were many more young people in similar or worse situations. I chose to provide young people including those from low-income communities with access to purpose-driven career counseling, mentorship, and mental health services so that they may improve their overall well-being, realize their full potential, and grow into influential adults. This is how IGNITE Youth Organisation was created.
I have chosen to a purposeful path, one that empowers and guides young minds on their career journey in life to find their purpose, and live life with passion.
When you live your life with a purpose, you are much more in control of your long-term happiness. You won’t have the feeling like you’re just drifting, working towards some vague goal that doesn’t make you happy.
Your reputation truly precedes you! You have quite a remarkable track record of serving both young and old people alike. Over 22.500 Zimbabweans have benefited from your workshops, seminars, coaching, and other programs. How does it make you feel knowing that you have positively impacted a multitude of people?
I am really honored and proud of how far we have gone as an organization. Yet, I believe there is so much more work that still needs to be done. My vision is to see an inclusive and equitable society that gives every young person, irrespective of socioeconomic status, an equal opportunity and chance to thrive and succeed in life. In the next 5 years, our goals are to have reached and impacted more than half a million youth across the country and to have expanded to more than 15 cities across Zimbabwe.
We also plan to expand to other African countries namely Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi. In addition to this, we believe that as a youth organisation, we have an important role to play when it comes to contributing to the shaping of youth-focused policies in the country. We have already started participating in various forums which shape and contribute to the policy-making processes that affect youth in the country and plan to continue participating and lending our voice to those. We also plan to continue engaging relevant government ministries on a number of projects that support well-rounded youth development in the country.
A little over a year ago in 2021, you received the highly touted “Junior Chamber International” (JCI) Award in the Children’s Rights category. Just how significant was this pristine achievement to you and your team?
The Award came at a time in my life when I was experiencing a particularly difficult emotional period, and it served as a reminder to keep going no matter what. It was a great boost to my morale and a confirmation that my own efforts, and those of my organisation, are having a positive effect and impact. Receiving praise for your efforts is always a morale booster. It’s motivating, so you keep going.
Your brainchild “Ignite Youth” predominantly focuses on empowering the youths through various programs. What exactly was the creative process behind establishing your illustrious organisation?
We offer two main services to youth. We offer an intensive purpose-centered curriculum, as well as 9 programs that offer a 360° holistic approach to youth development.
Our Purpose Curriculum asks pertinent questions such as, “Why am I here?” What kind of legacy will I leave behind? What will people remember me for? What difference will I make in the world?” The curriculum’s ultimate goal is to assist youth in becoming active, engaged citizens in their country, as well as to assist them in launching their own initiatives that will make a difference in the world, thus pursuing their purpose with passion.
Our programs provide a unique combination of experiences that assist a young person on their purpose and career journey. Our integral approach to youth empowerment recognizes the multidimensional nature of young people’s development needs; thus, we seek to address young people’s personal, social, physical, psychosocial, mental, and economic needs in a highly synchronized manner.
Aside from all the achievements, what would you outline as the best moment(s) of your career as a coach and a mentor?
My experience as a mentor and coach for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship was unforgettable. I spent six weeks as a Mandela Washington Fellow at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched in 2010 as a signature initiative by then-President Barack Obama to increase U.S. engagement with the continent’s youth through programs like the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) backs up the efforts of the continent’s future leaders to increase economic development, consolidate democratic rule, and fortify security.
While we are still on the subject of coaching and mentoring, it is important to highlight that in addition to your individual coaching and mentoring services, you also provide the same services to businesses and organisations alike. This must be quite time consuming. How do you balance it all?
The best way to keep on track is to keep a timetable and stick to it. I make sure to arrange any crucial meetings and plan out my day the night before. In addition, I purposefully plan time for sleep. But, rest does not come easily, especially for hardworking women. I have to approach this with deliberate aim.
I ask for help. Asking for help does not come across as weak or incompetent. It helps me to have more energy to spend with my loved ones.
I have assembled a highly efficient team of young people to assist me. These youth back me up 100% in making sure things get done, and they do it all with a smile and a ton of efficiency and hard work. Without their assistance, I could not have come this far.
I prioritize my health. In order to keep up with life’s demands, I need to get a good night’s sleep and eat regularly otherwise I will put unnecessary strain on my mind and body if I don’t take care of this first. As a result, I won’t be able to excel in anything I put my mind to.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to reward myself with little retreats. I won’t be as productive if I try to work without stopping, and breaks are necessary. I take some time for myself and do something nice, like a nice meal, a manicure, some meditation, or doing something I love doing. This will refresh my mind and body.
Setting limits helps me strike a healthy balance between work and family life. Even if I have pressing work, I try not to put in extra hours at the office or when caring for my family. Establishing limits requires a community that is willing to do the same.
Could you kindly fill us in on some of the life challenges and hurdles you encountered prior to your success?
Two of my biggest challenges, which continue to a lesser extent, are acquiring funding and keeping up with my many obligations. As a proactive measure toward acquiring financial backing, we have expanded our network of partners, developed proposals, and submitted them for funding consideration. We have made it to the final round for a few grants so far this year. Time management-wise, I assembled a group of interns and volunteers to assist with the influx of work.
Tadzie Madzima it has been such a pleasure to have this interview with you. In closing, would you mind sharing with us about some of your future aspirations for this year.
Our goals for this year are to strengthen our operations in all the cities we operate in, reach more youth in remote communities and build more partnerships as well as gain more recognition for our work.