David Mwendele from Dar Es Salaam grew up in an orphanage. By becoming a social entrepreneur, the 24 year old wanted to give other young struggling people the opportunity to change their lives to the better. He has created jobs in building a media centre and his own foundation.
–. David Mwendele did not have a good start in life. When his parents separated, he started living on the streets of Dar es Salaam. His luck: He found a new home in an orphanage, where he could not only get a place to sleep and food, but also education.
When he completed his studies, Mwendele felt frustrated seeing other young people experience the same adversities he had faced. Most young people in his community struggle to find jobs because they do not have an education.
“I was in that situation before I was taken in by the orphanage and offered education. I really wanted to do something to support my community.”
Watch David Mwendele introduce his foundation at the Anzisha Price:
In 2010, Mwendele started a charity called Let God Be You Foundation (LGBY) to provide quality education and life skills to youth aged 14-18. The organisation teaches young people computer literacy, English language proficiency and entrepreneurship.
To finance his project, Mwendele started a printing business in Dar es Salaam.
I taught four of my students how to do printing and how to make hard cover exercise books. We would go to churches, mosques and other places where large numbers of people frequent to sell the schoolbooks.
Mwendele had acquired skills in paper making while working in a factory during his teenage years. The venture, which now includes the production of receipt books and notebooks, led to the birth of the LGBY Social Enterprise, the profit making arm of the foundation which finances its activities.
His business got a big push in 2012, when Mwendele was named an Anzisha Prize finalist. The Anzisha Prize is the continent’s premier award for entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 years who have started and are actively running innovative social ventures or for-profit businesses with potential.
The meanwhile serial entrepreneur used the 2,000 US-Dollar cash prize money to diversify the firm’s interest to include an internet café and LGBY Media, a company that specialises in video and TV production, graphics design, photography and making documentaries. He used the money to purchase equipment for the Internet café, which offers training to local youth and services such as printing and photocopying.
The foundation which started its operations in a church has since moved to larger space and has taught more than 140 young people computer, embroidery, T-shirt printing, baking and photography skills. Some of the youth have started their own businesses now and others have gained employment or gone back to school to further their studies.
Mwendele explains that the advice, mentorship and networks he has built as an Anzisha Prize fellow have helped him to take up new opportunities to ensure sustainability and greater impact in his community. For instance, he ventured into video production after another Anzisha fellow taught him a few things and he got motivated to start.
A major challenge Mwendele faces is getting people to understand his approach to business.
I was raised in a poor family, I lived on the street begging for money and I was later taken to school by strangers who gave me food and other basic needs. That had a profound effect on my life and how I view things. I really want to do business. I want to succeed in life, but I want to make sure I use my money, my time and my skills to serve my community.