My name is David Mwendele. I am 22 years old and soon I will be heading to South Africa to compete with other young African entrepreneurs in the Anzisha Prize finals.
I was born in Morogoro region in Tanzania, my mother conceived me at a very young age. A guy who was supposed to give father love ran away. Despite being a single teenage mom, my grandparents chased my mother from home. Honestly, she had no place to go. Another man who loved my mother decided to take care of us. On my six years old birthday, my mother disappeared; we never knew what happened and where she went. I was taken to my uncle who was a farmer.
Two years later, another man came to my uncle’s place to take me to his home in Bukoba then to Dar-Es-Salaam, where this man abandoned his family. My step mom and I had to work hard to meet the family needs. For instance, in my early teens, I joined a counter book factory after I finish my primary school education. I can say there was no hope for me to go to school again but I didn’t give up. I worked for one year but the income wasn’t enough to take care of my family and myself.
In a year 2006, I went for the interview to join Hananasif Orphanage Centre and Hocet Secondary School. Hocet Secondary School is an orphanage school located at Mkuranga, Coast Region in Tanzania. During my time in the school and in the orphanage, not only I received excellent education but also I met people who inspired me to think positively.
In a year 2010, after I finished my secondary education in an orphanage school, I went back home. One day, I was just remembering how much I have suffered thus I asked myself how many young people and their families are suffering the same way I my family and I did. I witnessed many youth in my community succumb to truancy, delinquency, joblessness, and drugs. I was determined to make a difference. From my spiritual motivation and life experience, I founded the Let God Be You Foundation (LGBY). I founded LGBY when I was 20. The mission of the organization is to provide quality education and life skills to youth and children to help them overcome challenges they face in life and become leaders of positive change in their society.
I started out by securing a loan from a friend to begin training youth on how to make hard cover exercise books, a skill I learned after working long hours at a factory in my teens. These books are sold to generate revenues, which then funded the transportation, and food needs for children, and the class’s operational costs. I also taught local youth the art of embroidery, t-shirt printing, baking, and photography. In two years, I have trained over 100 local youth with skills that have spawned several other profitable ventures (Take a look at the pictures)
In a year 2011, I got information about African Leadership Academy, and one of their students from Tanzania, Julius James Shirima, founder of Darecha. I was interested to join the school but merely I wanted to meet Julius and make him my friend. It wasn’t easy to do on my own but my friend Sydney arranged a meeting with him and invited me to join. It was good to meet him for few minutes. I was able to make it to the ALA finalist weekend, where I meet Julius and other Julius friends who inspired and encouraged me a lot through their speeches. It was sad that I could make it to join the school. Still I wanted to be more close to Julius and his organization Darecha, it was good to get his phone number from my friend Sydney and I didn’t delay to make my first call with Julius. I met Julius for a meeting at his office and we had long conversation. I was so impressed by the way he stared his eyes on me carefully listening, it gave me courage to keep telling him my story because I felt listened. Julius really encouraged me to keep doing my work, he advice me to Join Darecha to learn and get more experience. I did just that. Lastly, he advised me to apply for Anzisha prize because he believed I have the potential to make it there. I didn’t apply because the application form was written for youth 15-20 years old. I received email one day from Julius asking me if I applied for the prize, I told him no and explain the age matter but Julius kept insisting me to apply. By that time the application was closed already.
In a year 2012, I got email from a friend Andie, advising me to apply for the Anzisha prize too, I again told him that I was above age, and she kept insisting me to apply. I applied to the finalist round after competing with hundreds of other young entrepreneurs in Africa. I wasn’t able to see the potential in myself but Julius and his Darecha team saw it, I am thanking God for this wonderful opportunity.