Building a network of powerful African women leaders -Dr. Sindy Zemura-Bernard

Carob Magazine Africa sits down with African global force, a humanitarian, a pioneer, a trailblazer, a woman who leads with example Dr. Sindy Zemura Bernard. We talk to her about her foundation and the amazing work that she is doing across the continent of Africa.

Carob Magazine Africa: Give us a background on who Dr. Sindy Zemura is? Where were you born and
how was it like growing up there?

Dr. Sindy: My name is Sindiso Zemura -Bernard, I go by the name of Sindy, I am Zimbabwean born, raised between South Africa and Zimbabwe. I was born to a Zimbabwean father and Swati mother. My father was a politician, philanthropist and a business man. We had a great upbringing up until my father passed
on in 1993. I migrated from SA to Ireland in 1999 where I worked as a waitress. Upon arriving in Ireland, I knew I wanted to do more for myself, I have always dreamt of being a lawyer or a Doctor. I soon realized that the work that I was doing wasn’t going to satisfy that yearning in my heart. So I took the risk and moved to the USA. As a young student in the US life didn’t go as I had envisioned. After my visa expired I became homeless. I lived on the streets of New York for close to 8 months! I depended on the generosity of the people that I came across to feed me. Mostly I lived on the subway, I lived in church buildings, I squatted at Madison Square garden… I would ask people to help me with a roof over my head, during that time I faced all different types of threats to life. I was almost a victim of human trafficking, you can imagine as a young woman being alone in a foreign country but throughout that whole experience I never lost the desire to do something in life that will allow me to impact the world positively. So I eventually moved to Canada. I went into Canada to seek asylum through my late father’s position as a politician. I sought asylum as a refugee, upon arriving in Canada, I lived in a shelter for homeless people and refugees. Even there I still never lost faith in that life could actually work out for me. Canada gave me an opportunity to go to school to improve my life and I did just that. I studied political Science, Public administration, governance and business. I worked as an accountant, a successful accountant for that matter before started the Southern African Embrace Foundation.

Carob Magazine Africa: Tell us about your organization SAE Foundation, what inspired you to start such a beautiful initiative?

Dr. Sindy: The Southern Africa Embrace Foundation (SAEF) was started with the vision to support women and Youth in Africa, to empower them to address issues of gender inequality, economic sustainability, HIV and GBV. The organization is registered in Canada but operates in 7 countries across Africa, we have teams of field advisors and partners on ground. SAEF has over 26 thousand beneficiaries, mainly women, youth and children. SAE has also supported over 3700 youths with educational sponsorship.

Carob Magazine Africa: Your work is mostly focused on empowering women, please tell us about your event Women Lead Forum, what does the event aim to achieve for women in Africa?

Dr. Sindy: The Women Lead Forum was launched in 2022 In Tanzania with a vision to create economic sustainability for women and youth and also to encourage intergenerational co-leadership and mentorship amongst women of Africa and to attract women and youth who are in business, also to engage the global community to support the African women and youth because there is potential in African women. This platform was also created so that women in Africa can come together and empower each other because we are the stock exchange of Africa, there is power in investing in women because when you invest in women, you’re investing in the nation and ultimately the whole continent. We also wanted these forums to emphasize the Africa free trade agreement which is an agreement launched by the African Union. The agreement envisions to uplift over 1,3 billion people out of poverty and we know that in Africa the people who are most impoverished are women and youth. The Women Lead Forum also has a focus to ensure that there is a chance for women to lead and sustain themselves economically.

Carob Magazine Africa: As a well-travelled International development Executive do you think enough is being done to develop women in Africa? If not, where do you think we need to improve as a continent?

Dr. Sindy: No. As women we need to learn to open doors for our sisters, we need to learn to go to these tables and bring a chair for another sister. As SAE we have developed an ambitious fund that we have launched with the forum for 5 million US dollars that we would like to raise in the next 5 years. The fund will focus on women and youth in Africa to promote their initiatives and businesses, especially those that are marginalized. To ensure that we address the issues of economic sustainability In the continent. Through the fund we would like to support girls that are interested in developing themselves and our continent … We want to see Africa rising through these initiatives that we are desiring for it. In the next few years we want to launch our SAE centers across Africa which will be a hub for women and youth to come together to be able to have programs that support their wider communities.

Carob Magazine Africa: What is your dream for Africa?

Dr. Sindy: My dream for Africa Is to truly see an Africa that is prosperous, an Africa that is borderless, I am a Pan Africanist, I would like to see us strip ourselves from our cultures and identities that removes us from getting to know one another and appreciating each other as Africans. I would like to see an Africa that is a leader in the global market, an Africa that makes decisions first for Africans and an Africa that trades first for Africa within Africa and has influence in the world. An Africa that produces women leaders around the world, above all an Africa that is conflict free.

Carob Magazine Africa: What/who do you draw your inspiration from?

Dr. Sindy: I get inspiration from powerful women in my life that have paved a way for me. My mother and my grandmother, I was born to a woman who worked in factories and seeing how she worked and never gave up, how she raised us with Ubuntu and encouraged us to have dreams of our own. I also draw inspiration from the many women in my life that have become my mothers and mentors… Two of these women that I have grown close to and I look up to is Her Excellency Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Nquka she has been a mother figure to me, a mentor and she’s always been one of the women that I look up to and I admire. Through such women I know that the Africa that we dream of is possible. I also admire and get inspiration from another mother from Tanzania, her name is Her Excellency ambassador Liberata Mulamula, she is a seasoned diplomat who is passionate about entrepreneurship, women and youth in Africa. She is one of the women who have paved a way for me. Both these women are the ones who pioneered and helped me launch the Women Lead Forum In Tanzania. That’s where I get my inspiration from and that has taught me to say to other young women that are coming behind me -let me carry you on my shoulder because I myself have been mentored by great women who have carried me on their shoulders.

Carob Magazine Africa: Your journey to success is an inspirational story of courage and resilience what message or advice can you give to emerging young women entrepreneurs who are facing a difficult time?
Dr. Sindy: There are no limits, limits are self defined… Dream on African child, its possible, if you don’t take the risk, you won’t know what you’re able to do…The world is yours…

Carob Magazine Africa: Where would you like to see Women Lead Forum in 5 years?

Dr. Sindy: The future for Women Lead Forum is to grow it beyond where it is right now, to have a culture that encourages a Pan African sisterhood that will show the world that Africa has great women leaders who are standing up for each other. We also want to get rid of the notion that women do not support each other. We want to realize our mandate of creating a powerful network of African women leaders.