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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fowler

Patience Ziramba’s Mandela Washington Fellowship: Using Newfound Business Skills for Success


Patience Ziramba from Zimbabwe came to eastern Iowa in summer 2022 as a Mandela Washington Fellow. She is an accomplished writer and editor with 21 publications to her name, and since returning home, she has been hard at work establishing her own publishing company, Raincemba Publishing.

While Patience came to the University of Iowa as a self-described shy introvert, the business instruction she received helped her come out as a confident leader who is ready to impact her community. Patience notes that instructor John Fraser taught her and other Mandela Washington Fellows how to say “YES” to every opportunity or question and be able to do anything.

“For instance, am I an introvert or an extrovert? YES. This means that while I identify as an introvert, can I do extrovert things like speaking in public? YES, I can because of the understanding that as a business owner and leader, I have to make presentations like funding pitches,” Patience said.


Patience (second from right) arrives at the Eastern Iowa Airport with other Mandela Washington Fellows.

Upon returning home, Patience focused on giving back to her community, starting with activities that showcased her new-found public speaking skills. Inspired by program activities in Iowa, Patience offered a number of presentations to help upcoming young leaders to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship as well. This in turn launched her Workshop facilitation prowess, and she became an online workshop moderator for Purse on Point Financial Literacy monthly seminars. She then moved on to facilitate for the American Spaces Professional Empowerment Program (PEP) Workshops to strengthen professional preparedness, job interview skills and persuasive communications to enhance career development skills and increase employability for Zimbabwean youth under 35 years, including university students and young professionals. She has facilitated ten face-to-face sessions so far.

Additionally, Patience has recently been awarded multiple awards for her accomplishments. She was selected as the 2023 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) facilitator for her home city, Bulawayo, allowing her to learn more about entrepreneurship and build upon the knowledge that she gained from the University of Iowa during her fellowship. Additionally, in November 2022 she was selected as the African Influencers Awards (AIFAS) Editors first prize winner, a prestigious title awarded to outstanding journalists, authors, bloggers, and publishers.

Patience (front right) at an Iowa Table Dinner hosted by Iowa locals.

Her time in Iowa was especially valuable in learning about business pitching; while she was “terrible” at it before her fellowship, she now enjoys it and has used her newfound skills to raise over $20,000 in funding for her business.

Her effort into growing social media presence, as recommended by the Iowa Business Consulting team, has enabled her to make substantial sales of her children’s books. Additionally, Patience has also begun some work on her second novel, His Pregnant Editor. This comes after the success of her first novel, Sweet Purple Sight.

“I took part in the University of Iowa’s Venture School, developed my elevator and business pitch, and came out stronger, polished and ready to empower my community,” said Patience.

About the Mandela Washington Fellowship

In collaboration with the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Global Ties Iowa has had the privilege of hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows annually since 2016. This fellowship sponsors young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa to spend six-weeks of the summer studying business, civic engagement, or public management at United States universities. Their time spent here is incredibly transformative, with the impact being clear soon after the fellows return to their home countries.

This summer’s Mandela Washington Fellows are arriving on June 21st! Sign up to transport them from the airport, host them for an Iowa Table Dinner, or accompany them on a cultural excursion.

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