NATALIE Jabangwe: EcoCash CEO named global leader by the World Economic Forum

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By Business Reporter

It’s a great opportunity to represent Africa amongst globally talented peers

THE chief executive of Zimbabwe’s EcoCash Natalie Payida Jabangwe has been named Young Global Leader (YGL) by the influential Swiss—based World Economic Forum (WEF).

She joins 100 other top trailblazers, under 40 in the world, working in business, government, academia and the media who have been selected by the World Economic Forum.

“We’re challenging these 100 women and men to do more and be more. They’ll join a community of enterprising, socially minded leaders working as a force for good, and highlight the potential for innovation to correct the shortcomings in our economies and societies,” said John Dutton, Head of the Forum of Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum.

The individuals have been selected from over 40 countries in recognition of “their creativity and innovation, their ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government and civil society as well as their pioneering work in arts and culture, business, design, energy, health, public policy, sustainability and technology”.

Truly humbled’

Jabangwe said she was “… truly humbled and blessed to join the Young Global Leaders community and am excited to collaborate with my fellow YGLs on our shared commitment to shaping the global future”.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent Africa amongst globally talented peers, an opportune to share our context and collaborate with others in mutual exchange of knowledge and championing of causes important to humanity, globally,” she added.

“I would like to draw on the outstanding power of the YGL community and World Economic Forum to help shape technological solutions and discourse, that addresses socio-economic challenges in Africa.”

Previous YGL nominees including Jack Ma (Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group), Larry Page (Co-founder, Google and CEO, Alphabet), Amal Clooney (Human Rights Barrister), Nicholas Zennström (Founder of Skype and Kazaa), and Naoko Yamazaki (Astronaut).

Young Global Leaders (YGLs) are proposed through a qualified nomination process and assessed according to rigorous selection criteria that creates a diverse and truly representative body, while accepting only the very best leaders who have already demonstrated their commitment to serving society at large.

Proven track-record

Natalie’s, an IT engineer, nomination was based on her proven track record of leadership and professional accomplishments.

By the age of 21, she was responsible for developing the US city of Atlanta’s first information technology security policies under mayor Shirley Franklin.

She then worked for NCR Corporation London, a Fortune 500 company and helped shape their digital financial services strategy across 52 countries.

With a world-class MBA from Imperial College London, Natalie specialised in Hi-tech strategy and was head-hunted by Econet Wireless to scale up their mobile money business, EcoCash.


Natalie’s ability to innovate and build economies of scale in a business bottom up, by offering services to those previously prohibited from participating in the financial services of a marginalised economy.

She left a cushy job in London to return home and join mobile operator Econet Wireless, in Zimbabwe, taking a risk in her career but was clear that she wanted to be where she could make a real difference in building bottom up financial inclusion, in Zimbabwe.

Her leadership trajectory has come with exponential growth, scaling customers from 3m to over 7.6m customers today, the business contributes 70% to Zimbabwe’s GDP.

EcoCash is the uncontested recipient of the 2017 Mobile World Congress, “Glomo” Award – Best mobile payment solution in the world.

An Oxford University Tutu Fellow, 2017, Natalie is also a member of YPO Africa and UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day ambassador.