Ngoni Takawira, Class of 2006, is living proof of the powerful impact that scholarships can make, not just on the students who receive them, but on the communities these students (and alumni) serve. Ngoni is the managing director of GEM Investments Ltd, which aims to provide education and health services to young people in Zimbabwe. Recently his non-profit, GEM Investments, has funded two cleft surgeries for The Operation of Hope Mission in Zimbabwe. Read on to learn more about Ngoni’s work in Zimbabwe and his perspective as an international alumnus.
Tell me about your career – what do you do on a day to day basis?
I am managing director of GEM Investments Ltd which is engaged in diversified agriculture/horticulture in Zimbabwe.
Tell me about the non-profit you are starting in your home country? Why are you passionate about this particular issue?
Through our day to day work, I have come to appreciate the need as Africans, to expand our agriculture and agri-business in order to adequately feed our people and to allow Africa to compete globally. I believe that we need more young people interested in agriculture as a career but firstly, they need access to adequate education and health services to realize their full potential. We have thus, decided to invest in the education and health of our youth through the GEM Fund. The GEM Fund is the non-profit arm of our business which has started off providing tuition fees for two promising high school students in Zimbabwe. The GEM Fund will, in addition, cover health care costs for the students in question. It is still early days but long term, we plan to expand into other African countries with an aim to assist in providing academic opportunity to promising young Africans.
From your time at Chapman, which faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and why?
I would say that President Doti and Dr. Lynne (Pierson) Doti had the greatest impact on me while I was at Chapman. I say this because they went out of their way to make international students feel comfortable in a different environment. The Albert Schweitzer Scholarships available to students at Chapman have influenced and inspired me greatly in creating our non-profit as I got to witness firsthand how a young person’s life can change for the better if given the opportunity to excel. Circumstance is not and must not become a limitation.
What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?
I would say the cafeteria was always interesting as that was where I got to meet the most people. I got to talk in depth with people from different cultures so I learned a great deal from such conversations.
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