Muzvare Betty Makoni

Muzvare Betty Makoni
CNN Hero and Decade Child Rights Hero

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I am a child vendor turned global speaker for girls-I speak from experience to save girls lives

My speaking will save girls in Africa. That much I know it will happen.

(My picture above shows me and my brother. This is when I started vending on the streets. My brother drowned and died at age 11.The other picture shows me as CNN hero now helping other girls)

I once spoke on the streets as a child vendor and I survived. Now I take a new vending approach, sharing my story to inspire those who trust me and can give. It is what I do and many US friends organise events for me to speak and get word out there. It is just the same when I went vending at night so that I get funds to survive. Every cent I took it home and that's why me and my brothers are now graduates and professionals. Poor children can be saved by our voices as child survivors of poverty and violence.

I still remember those days when I looked frail, poor, neglected, abused and always with a basket of tomatoes and onions on the streets of high density suburb vending and shouting out for potential customers to hear me and come buy . The cold at night taught me to be resilient and never allow a child to go through the same. Every time I looked for help be it food, a uniform, a shoulder to cry on or just a shelter to hide my little body from physical abuse and those who persecuted me because my mother was no longer alive is every time I told myself this would end one day.I wanted to stand up one day and stop the abuse that happened to me.

A friend was kind to work on my biography as I travel round USA at the moment sharing my story so that the girls I know who maybe in the same problems as I used to be get the help they need through my voice. Its virtually knocking on doors of people I don't know and just sitting down with them to share my dream to empower girls, to get their trust that I really mean it. It is not so different from my childhood vending where I developed my customers in the neighborhood who trusted to buy tomatoes from a little girl so that she survives. Even if I was a little girl many saw my maturity and leadership on the streets and admired me. Today I come on with my suit and beautifully done hair and the story I am sharing is poverty and violence can be a vicious cycle in a girl`s life in Africa but if we keep efforts the vicious cycle can be a virtuous cycle. I have a few minutes to say all this to supporters who have never met me before.

The lives of less fortunate girls I speak for lies in my hands. Many of them like me are out of school because they could not pay school fees and many are starving because the dollar is hard to get . Many turn to sugar daddies who take advantage.I am trying to raise for a Girls Empowerment so that I give girls the money they want -safe money where a girl does not have to give her body.

When I started Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe in 1998 ,something in my heart told me that was the right thing to do. I was just a teacher just graduated from University and with a husband who earned as an engineer and I felt even though he did not experience what I did he could be my first donor and help me save lives. He did his best to help and he chooses to remain an anonymous donor.

Today I looked at my biography below and I told myself I am there but girls I represent must also be there. This biography is what I take to be my childhood vendor basket.

My Biography

Betty Makoni, Founder and Director of Girl Child Network (GCN) Zimbabwe is also Chief Executive Officer of Girl Child Network World Wide Girl Child Network Worldwide is an organization that champions the rights of the girl child globally and has been profiled in the 2011 University of Essex Journal and many books and documentary films as a Best Practice for replication. She is Director and consultant of Muzvare Betty Makoni Empowerment Initiative which is the first of its kind to be set up in UK and many parts of Africa to give support to women and girls who want to set up similar initiatives. This is an enterprise where she churns out leaders using her personal experience starting the organization from the classroom to reaching its height at global level.

Since 1999 Betty has mobilized over 300 000 girls in Zimbabwe to be empowered so that they reach their full potential. The Girl Child Empowerment Model she came up with has since been replicated in many parts of the world and it is spreading like veld fire. Betty has mobilized financial resources to build four Girls Empowerment Villages, a unique model that provides safe shelter and healing for sexually abused girls. Today, over 70 000 sexually abused girls have been empowered and rehabilitated through family, school and in the community.

A survivor of rape at age six and orphaned at nine, Betty fought for her education and continues to do the same for girls in similar circumstances, being the consistent voice reminding policy makers and leaders to change attitudes and laws that are detrimental to the growth and development of the girl child.

A passionate speaker with worldwide acclaim, Betty is also a mentor, coach and trainer on gender equality, girls’ rights and an inspiration to young women, influencing and empowering thousands. Betty is a global renowned is a renowned indigenous Rape Therapy program designer.

She is renowned for her innovative, proactive and preventative girl child empowerment programs. From just one Girls’ Club at Zengeza 1 High School, Zimbabwe, GCN now has 700 clubs in ten provinces of Zimbabwe and has eight countries that have replicated the model globally. Betty has implemented innovative strategies directly eliminating gender-based violence and the harmful cultural practices that fuel the spread of HIV and AIDS among girls .

Betty is the founder of Ray of Hope–Network and Zimbabwe Rape Survivors network, organizations for rape and domestic violence survivors. She has voluntarily helped build capacities of many grassroots organizations in Zimbabwe offering training and coaching in fundraising and setting up effective management systems.

Betty Makoni is featured in the bestselling book, Women Who Light the Dark, by Paola Gianturco. Her work is featured in the award winning documentary Tapestries of Hope that educates the world on Virgin Myth and HIV and AIDS.

She has received twenty six national and global awards, including the CNN 2009 Heroes award for protection of the powerless, the Decade Global Child Rights award alongside Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel, the coveted United Nations Red Ribbon award, Ginetta Segan – Amnesty International award, Zimbabwe National Contribution award and two Global Children`s awards. Betty Makoni is an Ashoka fellow from Zimbabwe and she is recognized as one of the global change makers whose work has inspired many. Newsweek named her as one of the 150 women who shake the world alongside Hillary Clinton and many women world leaders. In her tribe Betty Makoni has been officially bestowed with Royal title Muzvare –Her Royal Highness and she is given the responsibility to manage a sacred place for Princesses in her tribe in rural Manicaland in Rusape.

Betty Makoni was recently selected to be a Trustee of RESTORED UK, a network of Christian organizations fighting gender based violence in churches. She is a member of UNAIDS round table and has served on many international boards like Oxfam Novib round table. Currently she is one of global Ambassadors of UK based African Achievers Awards.

Betty Makoni`s interests include hosting a Sunday internet radio on Zimonline Radio that highlights the work of women and girls and shares best practices with a global audience. She is also a poet and loves dance, acting , face booking and blogging.

Betty is married to Engineer Irvine Nyamapfene and she has 3 sons.

Betty Makoni has been honored globally and she has 26 Global awards for Excellence, Innovation and Passion for girls empowerment
• Newsweek Announced Betty Makoni is among 150 women who shake the world
• African Achievers Award-UK May 2011
• Honorary Award from Duke University of Medicine(Top Ten US College)-2011
• Decade Child Rights Hero by the World Children’s Prize alongside Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela -Sweden -2010
• Interaction(Network of USA Non Profits) Humanitarian Award 2010
• The Women In Film and Television Awards-Los Angeles –USA
• CNN Heroes award for Protecting the Powerless-2009
• Giraffe Heroes Project Award 2009
• Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award -2009
• Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for women and children’s rights, USA May 2008
• Elected Ashoka fellow- -Global leading Social Entrepreneurs in recognition of creative and entrepreneurial leadership and commitment to make large scale changes in Society
• Drivers of Change Award –Southern Africa Trust 2007
• Women Empowerment Award 2007
• Runner Up-Director of the Year Award for NGO sector in Zimbabwe-2008
• Finalist One World Person of the Year 2007
• One of the Ten Outstanding young people in the World by Junior Chamber International a worldwide leadership organization for young leaders and professionals
• Voted First out of Ten Outstanding Young in Zimbabwe 2007 the Junior Chamber Zimbabwe
• Awarded by the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child the Global Friends Award -2007
• World Children’s Prize an equivalent to Nobel Prize for Children in 2007 in a Global Vote by 5,2 million children in 85 countries
• Awarded the Zimbabwe Institute of Management National Contribution Award in 2007 immense contribution to the nation
• The United Nations Red Ribbon Award -2006 for addressing gender inequalities that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic
• Hafkin Prize Award Finalist, 2003
• Awarded for Creativity in Rural Life by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, Switzerland 2003.
• Prize Betty Makoni for Prevention of Child Abuse now renamed Prize for Prevention of Child Abuse is celebrated on 19 November annually
• Small Technical Grant Award for the most innovative Grassroots Community Based Strategy
• Certificate of Honor by Global Philanthropy Forum for being the most Remarkable person, USA 2002

Webpage links
You can make a dollar donation through GCNW website
Work website: www.girlchildnetworkworldwide
Personal website:
Social enterprise:
Twitter: Betty_Makoni


  1. Thank you, because you do great work and inspire other women to do what your heart says.

    A hug.


    1. Thank you so much Psicologia. The love and support keeps my work going