The late Kelvin Tinashe Mutize was a 35-year-old Youth Community Programmer, Gender Equality Advocate, Digital Content Creator, and Photographer. He was the Co-Founder of various award-winning African youth organizations and networks including The Usawa Institute, a non-profit organization in Southern Africa promoting gender equality in and through education in the region, the YaliCreatives; a network of creatives from the Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) from across Africa, and TV-YANGU; an online video-on-demand and social television platform that was geared at creating, curating and sharing content from around the African continent. He was also the South and East African Regional Leader for Champions for Life; a faith-based psycho-social support program for children, adolescents and youth infected with HIV/AIDS across 13 Sub-Saharan countries.
From the age of 20, Kelvin began his humanitarian career and worked for over three non-profit organisations. It was during his time volunteering with these organizations that he noticed the challenges that girls, women, and youth from vulnerable and marginalised communities faced in accessing basic formal education, staying in school, and completing the mandatory 12 years of basic education.
He spearheaded a number of initiatives geared at promoting girls and women's education in his community.
- In 2016 he co-started and designed the Girls Speak Out program which later transformed into The Usawa Institute, a non-profit organization focused on promoting gender equality in and through education in Africa. Through this Institute, Kelvin provided skills and capacity-building training to girls and women in Southern African countries from marginalised and underserved communities focusing on leadership, ICT and civic engagement. Since 2018, over 114 Southern African female community leaders and women in 9 Southern African countries have received small-seed financial grants to support their work.
- As a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, Kelvin was also involved in the launching and implementation of the YALI Africa4Her project at its initial phase in 2016.
- He was awarded the coveted Future Africa Award in Community Action 2015 for his work with Champions for Life.
- He Launched a communication and media start-up, Hot Cherry Media, to help African social impact businesses and non-profits develop and implement effective communication strategies and advocacy campaigns.
- At the African Union CIEFF, he worked as the creative director on the African Union CIEFFA’s music video for the #AfricaEducatesHer campaign theme song, “Let Her Know”. He was also a mentor and coach for many AU/CIEFFA female youth alumni and co-designed the #AfricaEducatesHer Logo and was involved in the promotion and implementation of the campaign’s first phase between 2020 – 2022.
- Developed the communication campaign to raise funding and support for the Centre de Formation Professionnelle en Construction, a vocational training center in rural Burkina Faso focusing on providing 2-year government-certified construction diploma training to out-of-school youth. In 2021, the first group of 9 girls enrolled in male-dominated TVET courses.
His path was not without hurdles. He had financial limitations in expanding his projects and programs. Additionally, as a young leader, Kelvin was unable to pursue university education due to financial reasons when he finished his high school education, even though he had graduated top of his class in 2005.
Kelvin’s work and life is an example of effective and impactful pan-African youth leadership. In his words, “Be the one that creates the change you want to see in Africa. You are a leader now not just a leader for tomorrow.”