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Exploring the possibilities - Interview with Gamuchirai Chituri, Paruware Trust
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
January 28, 2011

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Gamuchira Moyo Inspired by the growing need of young people to acquire the skills needed to start their own businesses Gamuchirai Chituri founded Paruware Trust in 2007. The Trust runs several programmes including a business incubation programme as well as Summer Entrepreneurship Camps. An Acumen Fund Fellow, Gamuchira has travelled to Kenya to work first hand on one of Acumen's projects, UHEAL.

How and why was Paruware Trust formed?
It stared a long time ago. In 2005 when I was at the University of Zimbabwe, there were many challenges and problems that I had seen. I loved film and scripting so I wrote a story for my community. We did rehearsals, I mobilised the community to act, and when it came to the filming, I came to Harare to look for a production house or any body who could help me and it was very difficult. I didn't have the exposure that it took to get people to do it. Years later I joined Students Partnership Worldwide, a volunteer peer education organisation. I was sent to Chimanimani in the rural areas and I saw so many young people who were just like me with ideas. They wanted to do things but they couldn't. They didn't know who to talk to or where to go. When I went to university the idea at first was that young people needed a platform where they could develop ideas and get ideas, even just moral support. From that point the idea evolved. Paruware was registered in 2007, and our mission is to promote sustainable development by supporting young people through trainings. So we do entrepreneurship summer camps and we do business incubation services. If somebody has an idea we then take it through and support them, give them the finances and help them become a real business.

Your website describes Paruware as a social enterprise. What role do you see for yourselves in the development of Zimbabwe?
I worked with NGOs for four years after University. We all know that NGOs are a nice place to be. But it doesn't really change the situation. We gave people buckets during the Cholera response; we gave people food handouts in Guruve. There is a place for charity but I don't think its development. It's just helping people especially when they are in a crisis. They need the help but it doesn't develop them. Then there is business on the other side which is profit making. They are not concerned about poor people they want to do business. If they find that they can't do business in the rural areas because people don't have the money for their products they just don't go there. Social enterprise is trying to take the best of both worlds and be in the middle. We are saying we want to help poor people, we want to help people who are suffering, but we can't do it for free, because it's not sustainable and in the long run we can't help develop them. We want them to pay so we borrow from the private sector. We are saying we want them to be accountable; we want them to pay for it.

We take young people who are poor or who are students, and we tell them we are going to support them. If they have an idea then we want to help you develop it. But we expect you to pay for this service. It's really patient capital. The money will come back to us and we will use it to help someone else. That's where we see ourselves. I think in terms of Zimbabwe's development that's what the country needs. It needs things that are sustainable, and it needs the people themselves helping themselves. Listen

Much has been made of the development potential of the Zimbabwean Diaspora community. Will they become a force for development in Zimbabwe?
I think they can be though I'm not optimistic that they'll come back. It's difficult to come back after you've settled especially if you are doing something proper.

At Paruware we have what we call a Wisdom Board. We take the knowledge and expertise of people who act as mentors and so on. Right now we have many Zimbabweans who are helping us. For instance a Zimbabwean who is living in America developed the Business incubation programme. I've never met him. We have a lot of people who are willing to do that. We have had so many Zimbabweans helping, like designing our adverts - we have a Zimbabwean in India doing that. I think they can contribute their knowledge in those ways and they can use their skills to help you do what you want. I think even if they are not there we can get that technology transfer. Listen

I understand that you are an Acumen Fund Fellow. What knowledge did you gain from that opportunity?
That's where I learnt first hand about social enterprise. I had ideas of what I wanted to do but the Acumen Fund programme gave me first hand experience of what that is. It's a year-long programme with three months of training in New York, which is the best part of it. They expose you to so many leaders, and teach what they call moral imagination. It's about social skills. They take people who are graduates, with Masters, but that alone does not make you succeed. It's those other social skills, it's how you network, empathise and talk to people. They try to show you what innovation is, who is innovating, what they're doing. For the operational experience I was in Kenya. What that experience showed me was the possibilities out there. The entrepreneurial spirit in Kenya is a lot more than here. There were a lot more young people doing real business not just buying and selling.

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