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Empowering female leaders - Interview with Bibi Apampa, QueenMakers
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
April 23, 2010

Read Inside / Out with Bibi Apampa

Bibi Apampa is the Director of The Empowerment Centre Ltd, Founding Trustee of QueenMakers. She is also an internationally sought after Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Global Trainer, Life and Business Coach and Investor who has helped many people improve their lives financially, physically, personally, spiritually and professionally.

What issues do you feel affect girls and young women in Zimbabwe?

I think the main thing is not having a role model. Many of them seem to have lost hope. They don't seem to have a vision of what they want in life and what they want to do. I find that very painful. I see girls that have no idea of where they're going. You ask them what they want to do in the future and they say I want to be a beauty therapist. I ask them 'don't you want to go to Uni, don't you see yourself becoming a lawyer?' The girls are not aiming high. I think when we went through the challenges of the past few year, many of them saw their parents fortunes being eroded, many of them saw people they looked up to coming down and not having much. So for them they lost hope. For many of them they saw their parents not being able to afford the basic necessities of life and they asked themselves, so what's the hope for me

What do you think women themselves need to do to bring about social and political equality in Zimbabwe?

I don't think there is inequality as such. I think women are empowered; they just need to do more. They need to become role models and to teach young girls that there's a future out there for them, that if they conceive and believe it, they can achieve it.

Do you think there is a role for men in helping women achieve their goals?

Definitely. In my own life, for instance, my father was a role model for me. He always told me I could achieve anything. I think when you have a positive role model it helps a young girl to grow more fulfilled. She's very comfortable in herself, she's confident and she knows she can achieve anything.

What is the defining idea behind Queenmakers?

The idea is to raise future female leaders. We find that men have been leading us since Independence, but in the areas that women have held positions, they have been outstanding. The idea behind Queen maker is to help nurture, promote and develop young women who we have identified as having the potential to become leaders. Grooming and mentoring them and helping them to achieve their goals in life.

How do you identify potential leaders?

We go into schools, we have debates, and we hold competitions. We look for ladies who have a fighting spirit, we look for ladies who are focussed and who, and even though their academic performance may not be that high, have a goal and a vision. All they need is someone to mentor them and hold them by the hand and show them the way to the top.

What programmes will you be running?

We will have three programmes or academies. The Queenmakers Academy, in which young ladies will go through a period of personal development, acquiring life skills and where they will be trained to become leaders. Once they graduate from the Queenmakers Academy, they will be matched to a mentor in their chosen field. This will be someone they can be accountable to, whom they would submit their school reports to, someone who will show them how, they themselves, became successful in the field the young lady wants to be in. Then we will have what we call the Entrepreneurs Academy. We are thinking of raising ladies who would have their own business, they therefore need the skills to become entrepreneurs. The academy will teach skills on how to start a business, how to run and grow their business globally and not just within Zimbabwe. The last academy we are running is called the Brides Academy. This is for women of marriageable age. We want to raise ladies who will be successful at home as well as in their profession. Before the young ladies get into marriage, they will be given pre-marital counselling where they will be taught how to know and choose their life partner. Someone who has the same vision and goals; someone who would share their aspirations in life. We want young ladies who see marriage as a covenant not as a contract that you can get out of. They would go through courses in home management, home finance, child and toddler care, and relationships. Our slogan for this academy is 'warm house, warm food, warm bed'.

Do you have any words of advice?

The first thing is to have a dream, its only when you have a dream that your dream can come true. So you need to know where you are going and what you want to achieve. You have to have the desire to be successful. You need to cross over a mental line in your mind so that you can be determined in fulfilling your success. Next you need to be determined and disciplined.

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