Nyasha Gwatidzo is a qualified psychotherapist, social worker, coach and mentor. She is a serial social entrepreneur, working with disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. She runs a multimillion pound social enterprise Banya, which finds foster families for children in the care of local authorities. She founded a charity in the UK, Vana Trust which raises funds for children affected by HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe, supporting their education. The Trust also supports adults and young people in the UK who have learning and emotional difficulties, through her therapeutic organic farm in Buckinghamshire. Nyasha’s vision for the future is to forge global connections with women in the developing world who inspire her every day. She currently mentors women starting up in business.
You are engaged in several initiatives and it seems the one thing that ties them together is your drive to help the disadvantaged. Where does the desire come from?
My passion started as early as 4 years old. I loved babies and still do. I am living my purpose which is to care for children and I do this through Banya, a fostering agency and Vana Trust a charity which helps disadvantaged children in UK and Africa.
You are keen to help develop women’s economic independence through enterprise. What’s been your own journey towards financial advancement that others can learn from?
I have been a serial social entrepreneur for the past 28 years and been extremely successful at this and want to share my experience with other women through mentoring. I have been successful because I am determined and focused on my passion/purpose and I do not get distracted.
Tell me more about the World Impact Capital (WIC) investment fund to help women.
Yes I am thinking big in order to have a huge social impact. WIC is for women entrepreneurs wanting to grow their businesses as well as do social good. I also want to provide hands-on support to these women. WIC seeks to expand economic opportunity for moderate and lower income groups in the SADC region, in particular by assisting women-owned and led SMEs to scale successful businesses, generate measurable, positive social impacts and increase financial empowerment. WIC investments will be designed to help raise living standards and improve financial security for local communities.
On 24th July 2016, you’re embarking on a 300 mile walk across Zimbabwe to commemorate the 13th Anniversary of your charity and fundraise at the same time. Are you literally going to walk this distance and why a walk?
Yes I am walking this distance, I love walking and what a better way than do it back home and reconnecting with mother earth and with my roots. It’s going to be a healing journey for me because I find walking very therapeutic and grounding. Friends, family and other people will be joining me.
The Vana Trust organic farm created to provide a safe educational setting for young adults with emotional and learning difficulties is fascinating. Where did the idea come from and what impact is it making?
This idea started on my allotment in South London years ago where I worked therapeutically with children with emotional and learning difficulties and saw how much they healed while there. I wanted to do the same on a bigger scale hence this farm. We now have over 80 people coming per week healing themselves through farming. It’s a great space for them to develop confidence etc. Nurturing plants, seedlings and animals brings about healing and inner peace.
What are some of the pressures you have to deal with in your leadership roles and how do you handle those?
Time management is my biggest pressure- I wish I could buy time but I cannot so I now delegate!! I think about what am I best at, do those and delegate the rest. My mentor tells me to focus on my “gain” goals such as increasing sales, referrals, becoming better at getting a Yes from prospects and promoting growth in my business.
What bit of feedback on your work have you received that you found really special and why was that special?
Children I have been privileged to work with send me thank you cards thanking me for finding them the ‘best foster mum or aunty’. I am humbled everytime I get one of these!!
You are clearly a woman who gets on with it. For the many people who want to “make a difference” but never really do anything about it, what would be your tips to them?
Identify your purpose and then action your plans/dreams- you need to take action.
I do not procrastinate but for those who do I’d ask them to focus on finding their big WHY because if you are not hungry enough you remain inactive. MY big WHY is my driving force, my fuel. I normally think of the big long term goal/outcome then break it down into a 90 day plan, then one month, then weekly and then daily asking what I need to do today to meet my desired outcome. It takes determination and hard work.
What are some of the personal values that have guided you and what have these values helped you to do that wouldn’t have been possible/difficult without them?
Humanity is a core value of mine which keeps me focused on doing social good. I just love humankind.
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