Thousands of Zimbabweans sadly, bid farewell to US Deputy PR Officer Nicole Marae Finnemann, who was serving her last term in the country which expired last week, as she threw a good bye party.
Many struggled to come to terms, that the techprenuer advocate who had interfaced with more than 4 000 young entrepreneurs had to say goodbye Zimbabwe, as she publicly announced her departure on her Facebook page.
Her farewell party in Harare which coincided with the celebration of the partnership between US embassy and Udugu Institute brought tears down many ‘s cheeks, as she saw her last few hours In Zimbabwe before she packed up her all for the next assignment.
By Toneo T Rutsito.
“What I can say about the 2.5+ years I have had the honor to serve in Zimbabwe, however, is that it has been the single most rewarding thing I have done in my 16 years of professional experience. “ said Nicole.
Nicole said that Zimbabwe was her best ever experience as she interfaced with hardworking technology entrepreneurs.
She was mainly instrumental in successfully lobbying the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the Global Information Science and Technology (GIST) Network to add Zimbabwe into their networks, a program which has seen hundreds of young entrepreneurs interface with greater opportunities
I have worked with, programmed, interviewed, and otherwise engaged with over 4,000 young entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe to date – most of whom work in a technology-related field, and I don’t think I have ever been more inspired in my life.”
Many people know her as their bridge to their first ever visit to the United States, myself included, as she was the one in charge with popular YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship which takes hundreds of Zimbabweans to the states, and the prestigious, IVLP which I personally benefited from.
“I have had the honor of being in charge of the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process and engagement programming since I arrived in Zimbabwe, and as excruciatingly competitive as the selection process is, it is so amazing to see the fellows give back and want to share everything they gain from being fellows with their fellow countrymen.” Said Nikki.
Nicole appreciated that Every single day a young Zimbabwean’s hustle is creating an income for someone to eat. She said Entrepreneurship has the power to convert this to a productive economy from the grass roots level and Zim’s brilliant, educated, and innovative minds are on the forefront of all those I have ever met across the five continents where I have worked. And the hustle!
“I love that a term that used to be used in a negative light, has been repurposed as a badge of honor – such as the recent “Harness the Hustle” YALI Expo in June 2017. Young leaders at that event blew away their senior counterparts in industry with their drive and the things they are doing on the ground here in Zimbabwe and to witness it, was extremely rewarding.”
She added that Working with tech and female entrepreneurs especially is also very rewarding. To share the journeys of those who have made the mistakes, experienced the failures, and learned the lessons of the start up scene in the U.S. with these audiences provides a great learning platform and is the thing I am most proud of my own countrymen for doing:
the willingness to share, even if it means sharing our failure stories, if it means that others will benefit and learn. I have been able to bring 15 such experts to Zimbabwe in my time, traveling the countryside to speak to young audiences.
Asked what program she is most proud of she said,
“It’s difficult to say what programs I am most proud of being a part of during my time in Zimbabwe, however Innovation Baraza, the wonderful, REAL reality show Simba Savannah, YALI Expo, and Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, are programs I think provided a lot of value. It was rewarding to plan, execute, and enjoy those events from backstage for sure.”
She said However, connecting young Zimbabweans to other young Zimbabweans they would otherwise not have met, but for whom they have value to provide and vice versa, is the single most rewarding effort of her career.
“ Throughout my engagement of thousands of young entrepreneurs here, I inevitably have seen it all and sometimes the only thing lacking, is being connected. It has been my honor to help make those connections.”
My only regret?
That a diplomat’s tour is finite. I would stay forever if I could. Zimbabwe’s future is in the hands of thousands of the people who most inspire me, and it will be a brighter future indeed for it. I can’t wait to come back and see!