The MATTER Career Readiness Institute: Making the Impossible Possible

“This has been an impossible journey, honestly. That word perfectly describes everything. The impossible journey which was made possible.” Tendai Takura, MCRI graduate and Jamf employee

Nineteen-year-old Tendai Takura (pictured above) is living a life that few of her fellow Zimbabweans can imagine. A bright student, Tendai excelled in the MATTER Innovation Hub during her high school years. Her quick aptitude of the technology curriculum combined with her positive attitude and leadership qualities made her an obvious choice for the first cohort of students enrolled in the MATTER Career Readiness Institute (MCRI) in January 2023.

The MCRI, currently sponsored by two U.S. companies, Jamf and Mains’l Services Inc, trains graduates of the MATTER Innovation Hub for remote tech jobs with U.S. or other international companies. The rigorous 12-month course focuses on coding and software technology; but equally important, trains students in the soft skills that are required to work as professionals in the global marketplace. Upon graduation, students hold internationally recognized certification in Apple coding and software development and are guaranteed paid internships with companies in the U.S. or elsewhere. Though they are not guaranteed employment, with hard work they have a good chance of being hired on as remote employees.

MCRI students with Terri Wiliams, far left, and Dean Hager on the right.

This revolutionary approach to improving communities in Africa through technology education in the MATTER Innovation Hub program and career training in the MCRI is the brainchild of MATTER partner and former Jamf CEO, Dean Hager. “We wanted to create hope among these students by showing them a skill that would not only be something they’ve never done before, but something that could lead to jobs. The vision always was job creation. That’s the thing that transforms lives and economies. We can transform the entire country if we can get a concentration of jobs, and tech is that job that can be done from anywhere.” 

Currently, there are 24 students enrolled in the course with 14 in active, paid internships and two graduates with full-time remote employment. Tendai is one of the two. “Our three-year goal is to have 30 kids working for Minneapolis companies from Zimbabwe and 2,000 kids in training,” explained Jeremy Newhouse, MATTER’s Chief of Financial Strategy & Africa Projects. “That’s the big vision. We really want to see Victoria Falls as a tech center.”

In the fall of 2023, the MCRI campus had its official grand opening. The beautifully designed facility boasts classrooms, study areas, an open courtyard and office space for the interns. Student housing was recently made available for those students that live outside of Victoria Falls.

Mains’l Services, Inc. founder and CEO, Terri Williams, is pleased with the first group of interns working for her company. “We have a brilliant crew here in Minnesota and we are now supplemented by an incredibly talented group of young people in Zimbabwe…They are incredibly gifted students with a high work ethic, quality of character and God-fearing. They have made what was impossible possible. By the end of this year, by the grace of God, we plan to have ten Mains’l employees working and living in Zimbabwe.”

For Tendai, being employed as a software engineer for Jamf is more than a dream come true. “My life has changed in a very unexpected manner. This is not where I thought I’d be two years ago. I thought my life was just going to be the cycle that we all know: go to high school, go to university and then try to find a job. I thought my first job would be a till operator [cashier] at a grocery store and then maybe become a software engineer later if I’m lucky. But this program showed me that it is possible for a nineteen-year-old girl to make a difference. And that difference starts today!”

You can help support the life-changing work of the MCRI! Go here to learn more.

Watch this inspiring highlight video from Africa Stories Live! as Tendai and others share about how the MCRI is changing lives and improving communities in Zimbabwe.