Originally published on Creative Associates
A Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellow will spend six weeks working closely with Creative’s Economic Growth Division, learning from its experts and sharing his unique perspective as a young leader in Zambia.
At 22, Njavwa Mutambo is among the youngest of the 1,000 YALI fellows, selected for their positive contributions and innovations in their communities and countries. Mutambo is co-founder of Musanga Logistics, an on-demand delivery app that seeks to transform the transportation of goods, promoting efficiency and economic growth.
Earl Gast, Creative’s Senior Vice President and Senior Director of the Education for Development and Economic Growth Divisions, says the team is honored to have Mutambo spend part of his summer with Creative.
“YALI is empowering the next generation of African leaders who will shape the future of the continent.” says Gast, who has been involved in YALI since its inception in 2010. “We hope that Njavwa’s time at Creative will give him new tools and knowledge to help him succeed. We’re also excited for the opportunity to gain valuable insights from a young person who has already made such an impact on his community.”
AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH A DREAM OF “AFRICAPITALISM”
“In Africa right now, we desperately need to create jobs, and by creating jobs you’re increasing the social welfare of our people.”
A self-taught entrepreneur, Mutambo launched his company in 2016 in the Zambian capital of Lusaka. Musanga Logistics’ website and app connects users who want to send packages – such as restaurants, small retailers and individuals – through independent couriers, similar to U.S. services like Uber.
Mutambo says the service, which already uses more than 100 registered couriers, is helping other small businesses by significantly lowering the cost of shipping to buyers. He hopes the next big step will be to spread out into the more rural provinces and connect small-holder farmers with truck drivers who can bring products into the city for sale.
Ultimately, he dreams of being in 25 major African cities in the next 10 years.
Mutambo says he sees his business success as a driver for positive change in his community, a philosophy known as “Africapitalism.” The concept was coined by his mentor and renowned entrepreneur and investor Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Nigeria-based investment firm Heirs Holdings.
“In Africa right now, we desperately need to create jobs, and by creating jobs you’re increasing the social welfare of our people,” says Mutambo. “The best thing we can do for these people is find them employment.”
Mutambo says he feels blessed to have been selected as a fellow out of tens of thousands of applicants. Further, only 100 of the 1,000 fellows were selected to participate in a professional internship after completing a six-week academic and leadership component at American colleges and universities.
His internship at Creative will not only help Mutambo make valuable connections, it will also give him a close-up look at how Creative is using data and working to strengthen small businesses and markets around the world.
Mutambo says that based on his experience as an entrepreneur, he would encourage other young African entrepreneurs to strive for more.
“Why are we settling for what we have? Why should African people not ask for something better?” he says. “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”