The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

2016 Mandela Washington Fellow: Ruvimbo Katiyo

16X YALI

Ruvimbo Katiyo Creator, Hair and Beauty Hub, Zimbabwe

16X YALI

Ruvimbo Katiyo (center) with fellow YALI participants at a breakfast in their honor at the home of President Phil Hanlon and Gail Gentes (center right).

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Ruvimbo Katiyo Creator, Hair and Beauty Hub, Zimbabwe

Ruvimbo Katiyo has over four years in the beauty and fashion industry, including hair care, cosmetics, and jewelry design. Her passion for using entrepreneurship to make a positive impact in her community was ignited during her sophomore year at Berea College in Kentucky, where she was selected as a fellow for the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program. The program, designed in the Appalachian region, allowed her to witness the challenges that people face in the Appalachian region, which motivated her to apply the same model to her community. After her graduation, Ruvimbo returned to Zimbabwe where she began using her talents in design and jewelry as a starting point for earning a steady income. Later, she started to teach other women these skills in order to provide them with ways to earn their own income. 

In 2012, Ruvimbo was named the Miss Zimbabwe 2nd Runner Up and she represented Zimbabwe at the Miss Tourism World Pageant in Thailand. With so much media coverage and press, Ruvimbo was seen as a “symbol that young women could look up to.”  She emphasizes how the social responsibilities of the position forced her to think more broadly about how to impact women on a national, rather than just a local level. With the backing of international organizations, Ruvimbo began mentoring and empowering young women.

At this point, Ruvimbo also renewed her in natural hair care as many people approached her and commented on the beauty of her hair and questioned what types of products she used. Ruvimbo had learned about natural hair care from the internet and her grandparents, who had extensive knowledge on traditional herbs and plants that could be found in a backyard and used for hair.

“I thought, if i am having all of these women ask me about hair care, how can I commercialize my knowledge in terms of hair care and impact more people,” said Ruvimbo.

Subsequently, Ruvimbo partnered with a hair weaving company to start the Zimbabwe Hair Show, the first Zimbabwean television show emphasizing ethnic hair care. The show was a platform to change the standards of beauty in Zimbabwe and teach women how to manage their natural hair. Ruvimbo also created the Hair and Beauty Hub, a platform that connects brands and consumers in the ethnic hair and cosmetic industry. As a part of this platform, she organized workshops and events in her community for the corporations and manufacturers to aid the communities where they profited.

After the end of Zimbabwe Hair Show, Ruvimbo decided to pursue a master’s degree in Supply Chain Engineering and Management, in order to further develop herself professionally and academically. Her aim was to better understand the whole chain and create a product that she could launch into the market and expand into other African countries. By participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Ruvimbo hoped to challenge and improve her leadership skills and expand her professional network. As a young entrepreneur in Africa facing several challenges, Ruvimbo also wanted to learn from the challenges of other fellows and equip herself with greater knowledge about how business is conducted in other countries.

2016 was Dartmouth’s third summer as a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) host for a cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows. On campus, the program is a collaboration between the Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Dartmouth Center for Service, the Thayer School of Engineering, the Outdoor Programs Office, and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN).


Submitted by Rachel Favors ’18, Student Program Assistant for Communications

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