Nobuntu’s Duduzile Sibanda benefits from US-sponsored entrepreneurship programme

Nobuntu’s Duduzile Sibanda benefits from US-sponsored entrepreneurship programme

By Claire Rudinsky

The United States-sponsored Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) has offered programs in nearly 100 countries since 2019, empowering an estimated 25,000 women around the world with the educational and financial skills they need to reach their full economic potential.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her world-wide acapella tours were cancelled, so Sibanda turned to baking and confectionery work, opening up her business Delicious Art by Dudu. She received professional lessons and certification from local Zimbabwean chefs before being selected as a member of the 2020 Zimbabwe AWE cohort.

The AWE program creates an understanding space for female entrepreneurs to learn and aid each other in their businesses. In addition, AWE uses DreamBuilder, a no-cost online learning platform created by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, to provide access to a variety of classes that cover the fundamentals of business including marketing, financial management, and long-term strategization.

“AWE really changed my approach in so many aspects,” said Sibanda. “How I manage my time, how to balance your book and see if you are making a profit, drawing up a business plan, and even registering my business!”

This year, Sibanda has expanded her audience and is part of the catering team at the Munch and Sip Food and Drink Festival, where the main objective is to showcase traditional Zimbabwean cuisine and culture. The festival was created by a fellow AWE alumni, Mandipa Masuku.

“The social capital I received from the AWE program has been tremendous,” Sibanda said. “I have made connections with so many other women here who I can talk to on a personal level. We all support each other.”

Sibanda pictured with her daughter and niece.
Delicious Art by Dudu has grown into a family business, with her daughter and niece taking responsibility when Sibanda is pursuing her musical career around the globe.

As touring became available again, Sibanda passed on more of the responsibility regarding her baking business to her daughter and niece so that she could also return to her love of music. As a member of Nobuntu, a five member all female acapella group from Zimbabwe, Sibanda works to share her culture with others around the world.

The group’s name, Nobuntu, means “mother of humanity” in Zulu and is meant to capture qualities such as humility, love, purpose, unity, and family from a woman’s perspective. This year, Nobuntu will be touring in Europe from May to July and the United States from October to December. Because of what she learned during her participation in AWE, Sibanda is able to follow her passion and keep her business open and running at the same time.

Cultural heritage can be found in a variety of ways, whether through food, artwork, or music and dance, all of which highlight the traditions that make each country or region unique. Finding avenues to synthesize culture into business, like Sibanda has done through her baking, creates vibrant and impactful communities where people can easily share their heritage with others.

AWE works not only to provide economic opportunities to women entrepreneurs across the globe, but to ensure that their businesses have a positive effect on consumers and the public at large.

Many AWE alumni create businesses that highlight aspects or products from their specific culture. One AWE alumni from Zimbabwe, Duduzile Sibanda, has incorporated Southern African culture and traditions in her career as a musician and continued to do so as she established her baking business with the help of AWE.

Claire Rudinsky is a VSFS Intern with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently majoring in International Relations with a focus on Economics at the Joint Degree Programme with College of William & Mary and the University of St Andrews.