ALA alumna from 2008, and co-founder and Executive Director of Reekworth in Harare, Zimbabwe. Since its founding in 2010, the school stood out from other schools in the country thanks to its focus on entrepreneurship training from early childhood, and its philosophy of developing the whole child from academics and sports, to art and travel.
Zimbabwean entrepreneur Belinda Munemo founded Reekworth Schools ten years ago in her mother’s living room soon after leaving school. Her earliest experiences of entrepreneurship date back to selling cakes at school and setting up a salon during her time at African Leadership Academy. She now has her energy focused on building 5 more Reekworth Schools campuses in 5 different countries on the continent in the next 5 years. She has built her business despite being young and a woman.
“As a [very young] female entrepreneur on the continent, you are faced with two main barriers. First of all, you are young, and in our culture, the older you are, the more people take you seriously. Second, you are a woman and [somehow there is a misconception] women are not as valuable as men. It is difficult to see very successful female entrepreneurs but now it is changing,” says Belinda of her experience and journey.
Belinda co-founded her school with her mom (the first investor) who automatically assumed a role as the face of the school. It helped her deal with the social barrier of age. However, she reckons that as she has grown her business, it has been built on the strength of her team and getting the right people around her that help the business deliver on its promise to its clients.
“You need to have thick skin and you need to be smart. I am not saying hire a person to be the face of your company, but look at your context and see. You do not need to do all the work by yourself, your team really matters, that brings credibility,”
she said of navigating social stereotypes and perceptions of inexperience.