Meet Lisa Chiriseri, Jack of many trades and master of them all! Lisa was placed among the Top 10 African Youth in Philanthropy Awards (2015) officiated by the prestigious African Grant Makers Network. She was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow for US President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), named among Zimbabwe’s Top 40 under 30 Emerging Leaders 2015 and also appointed as Zimbabwe Global Youth Ambassador for Education for the UN Secretariat initiative #AWorldAtSchool. Find out how Lisa managed to qualify for all these achievements and nominations, and what makes her a young leader below…
Full name: Lisa Tendai Tafadzwa Chiriseri
Current title/company: Women in Energy Group
Position: Founder and Director, Women In Energy Group
Educational background: Lisa completes her diploma in Christian Ministry in 2017. She holds a certificate in Technical Training in Agriculture, a certificate in Mineral Resource Evaluation and an Honours degree in International Business. She completes her MBA in 2018.
Current city: Harare
Lisa, you are an Established Corporate Social Responsibility consultant and founder of the Women in Energy Group project, Fund A Child’s Education Zimbabwe Education Fund and the African Women Association and Awards. You are involved at different levels in all these initiatives. How do you find the time to do all this?
There’s a very specific common factor in all the work I am involved in and that’s improving the lives of women and children. It is not as hectic as it sounds because in each project I generally apply the same set of skills which I have developed and refined over years of practice; and that includes analysing a need or existing problem, researching a wide range of solutions through which to solve it, identifying and amalgamating the necessary people and resources required to implement the intervention and setting up the structures and systems that will be used following our chosen implementation strategy. More often than not, I work at a strategic level. I apply this in all my endeavours. Do as much as you can, with whatever you have available, the rest will come to you once the work begins.
You were placed among the Top Ten African Youth in Philanthropy for the pan-African Youth in Philanthropy Awards (2015) officiated by the prestigious African Grant Makers Network. You had the privilege of being selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow for US President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. You were were named among Zimbabwe’s Top 40 under 30 Emerging Leaders 2015 and then appointed as Zimbabwe Global Youth Ambassador for Education for UN Secretariat initiative #AWorldAtSchool. What do you think made you qualify for all these nominations and what do you owe it to?
One can never be absolutely sure which of your attributes if any, qualify you for recognition on any level. There are many women doing phenomenal work in their spheres all over the continent. I do however believe I owe it to God, who has enabled me to be consistent over the years in everything I set my hands to do. Starting is hard – yes – but continuing, I have found, is an even bigger challenge when one considers the socio-economic terrains of most African countries. It also isn’t always the magnitude of your work but sometimes the impact it makes over time. People eventually notice the person that has made a decision to never give up and keep going against any and all odds.
You are involved in CSR Consultancy, The Women’s Energy Group, FACEZ Education Fund and AFRICAN Women Association and Awards. Please give us more detail on these projects.
CSR Consultancy, – I work with private companies and groups, and certain individuals in establishing Corporate Social Responsibly strategies, portfolios and projects either in partnership with my initiatives below or with other suited local causes. I have also launched bi-annual capacity building seminars for grassroots organisations to equip them in the areas of accounting and reporting, online and industry networking, organisational identity, structure, growth and sustainability, resource mobilization and volunteer management: areas that will enable even the most obscure initiatives in the most impoverished and remote areas to source, receive and maintain support from beyond the limitations of their capacities. www.lisachiriseri.org.
The Women in Energy Group (WEG) –this project, started in June 2016 and currently provides alternative energy products to over 6000 Zimbabwean households providing access to sustainable, safe, more affordable and clean alternative energy like LPG and solar. WEG empowers women economically by employing a women’s only selling and marketing system and contracting women only for the retail of replenishment products in all communities. WEG ensures that products and replenishments are available right in the communities where our beneficiaries live, saving them the cost of travel or the time and effort of walking long distances to access their energy – www.womenenergygroup.org.
FACEZ Education Fund – FACEZ is supporting over 360 beneficiaries nationwide with education (tuition fees, uniforms and stationery, extra-curricular skills transfer), full psychosocial support (mentorship, Christian counselling, community mapping, food and medical support), and Livelihoods (vocational skills training for guardians and adult siblings, a capital start-up funding) in 3provinces www.facez.co.zw.
African Women Association and Awards (AWA) – Awa is a Pan-African women’s network connecting African women globally and rebranding the image of African women to market Africa’s strength in diversity, culture and collective potential through media with the most popular platform being the African Women Awards, most recently held in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 3rd of December 2016. AWA aims to create a fresh brand of female African role models with relevant, inspiring and educational stories worthy of celebrating on a global scale to which the next generation of African youth home and abroad and can look up to, learn from and aspire to be like. AWA is currently represented in 13 African countries and has been featured on platforms like BET Africa, Huffington Post, CCTV, MTV Africa and many more. www.africanwomenawards.com
In all these projects my work involves strategic planning and operational management of the schemes, structures and CSR implements.
You hold an annual awards show that celebrates the success of iconic African women with accomplishments and impact worth celebrating on a global scale. AWA 2016 saw women from different African countries being recognized as role models of our time, whom the younger generation can look up to for guidance and inspiration on how to navigate the terrains of various industries and sectors. How did this idea of celebrating women’s success come about and how easy or difficult has it been to identify these women?
AWA was born in my bedroom several years ago during a slumber catch up night where my friend Carol Nyazika and I discussed our concerns and ideas over the lack of female African role models, or the lack of their exposure, especially outside Africa. Having completed my Honors degree in Malaysia, I knew very well just how glaring the need was for Africans to begin to tell and promote their own stories as I had always felt frustrated by the way media portrayed us on the very few occasions where we were featured. We formed African Women Association to begin to address this disparity.
The selection process for the African Women Awards comprises of the public nomination stage which opens for three months – usually April to June. Numerous African women are nominated via the AWA website and social media pages. This is mainly because we target youth to nominate the people that they find inspirational. Once the nominations are closed the names are submitted to a select esteemed panel comprising of academics, professionals and industry leaders who make decisions based on the profiles submitted for each woman nominated. The official nominees list is made public around August each year and the winners are announced at the much-anticipated African Women Awards ceremony each year. AWA deliberately avoids a voting system to ensure that nominees and honorees are selected based on their work portfolios and impact rather than on their popularity and public pull access.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Because my day usually ends no earlier than 2am, it usually starts with a struggling 6am or comfortable 7am hour-long prayer appointment with my Creator. Then comes a quick exercise session, meetings and consultations from 9am to 12noon, lunch meetings, office work between projects until 6pm, depending on the day and the project schedule. I am committed to having a table dinner with my wonderful family of God-driven workaholics between 8.30 and 9.30pm after which we catch up or all slip away into our respective homes. I have a bad habit of working in bed, writing, planning, communicating or catching up on emails way into the early hours of the morning during which time I plan the next day’s activities and have my bible reading and devotional time too.
Advice for young women?
Be assertive and be confident and be consistent in every interaction; always remembering that peoples’ responses to you do not determine your value or the value of your work and knowing that it takes not many but just one– one meeting, one call or one person to change your life overnight. And when that change comes, take the next woman with you.
Morning or night? Night- I am a meticulous planner with a perfectionism complex, I love the seclusion and serenity night time provides for pure focus and uninterrupted meditation
Which woman would you lunch with and what would you order?
I’d order water at lunch with H.E Ameenah Gurib – President Elect, Mauritius.
I wish I knew how to… Navigate the political terrain without selling my soul or getting it dirty. I’m not sure that’s even possible- It has to be!
African women are… Emerging as the newest thing on the African block right now- the focus on black and African empowerment is right now; the tidal turn towards embracing women is finally becoming certain in its establishment and the drive to empower, involve and capacitate youth has just began to gather momentum – if ever there was a best time to be a woman, black and young, that time is now.
Worst spending habit… My family, I spend on them without a second thought.
Best investment… The 360 beneficiaries of my education fund FACEZ (Fund A Child’s Education Zimbabwe).
Motivation in 3 words… Supernatural Vision. Persistence.