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Tanzanian campaigners for female empowerment win KBF Africa Prize

Lydia Charles Moyo and Her Initiative Team win KBF Africa prize
17:02 28/06/2024

An idea originating from three determined Tanzania schoolgirls’ desire to help young women in their country has won this year’s King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) Africa Prize 2023-2024.

The prestigious award, accompanied by €200,000 in prize money, was presented to Her Initiative by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the Palace of Laeken in Brussels.

Founded in 2019 by one of the school girls, Lydia Charles Moyo, now 30, the financial initiative aims to unlock women’s economic potential, tackle the youth unemployment crisis and accelerate economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa.


Via various programmes, the nonprofit organisation has reached more than 15,000 adolescent girls and young women aged between 15 and 35, Moyo (picturedtold the Bulletin in an exclusive interview ahead of the award’s announcement.

The award will support its next phase of development in Tanzania and beyond, as well as the opportunity to connect with KBF’s international network of non-profit organisations and development professionals.

The women-led organisation plans to expand its programmes in Tanzania and across East Africa to reach 100,000 more women in the next three to five years, said Moyo.

“We already support young women to build up their financial resilience in six Tanzanian regions, but with this prize we will be able to scale up our work to help so many more women achieve their dreams. Nothing is as beautiful as dreaming and then seeing what you want come to reality.”

The idea is to connect young women’s business plans with funds and capital from Her Initiative’s enabling organisations such as NGOs and government bodies, explained Moyo. “What we want to see is a position of choice, which is difficult if you are financially dependent.”

Growing up in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, she saw how gender-based violence, underage marriage and HIV were “just a few examples of the problems stopping women from going to school, getting a job and breaking the cycle of poverty”.

The country has made significant progress on women’s empowerment and women’s rights, but more than half of young women live in poverty and 40% face gender-based violence and HIV infections.

“My friends and I experienced these barriers when we were in high school, and started to look for solutions. And that’s how Her Initiative started,” said Moyo. The organisation’s strategies include girls agency empowerment, skills development, training and mentorship programmes and links to funding.


The initiative’s Panda entrepreneurship campaigns have enabled 210 young women, including Mwamini Nicodemus (pictured) to set up their own business, including notably by creating networks with successful business people, providing links to financial resources and giving theoretical and practical training.

Another beneficiary was the Digimali project. By helping young entrepreneurs enhance their knowledge and skills of online business, digital ecosystems and business management, the project opens doors to self-employment opportunities.

Moyo singled out Panda Digital – a Swahili hybrid e-learning platform that uses SMS technology to deliver courses to women with limited internet access. It has reached over 5,000 young women, providing them with access to skills, business support and to social justice.

“Panda Digital enables us to reach different girls, from urban and rural areas. It is really beautiful, free and convenient, and you can use it wherever you are,” Moyo emphasised, adding: “the platform also gives girls who might not feel comfortable expressing themselves in person, a means of asking for information.”


Access to information and education is essential, according to fellow board member Anna Meela Kulaya. The organisation’s Mshiko clubs have helped more than 1,000 girls in 10 Dar es Salaam secondary schools remain in education by helping to instil financial literacy and extracurricular entrepreneurship habits.

“Women must have an education,” Kulaya said, as this will help social change and break through cultural norms and patriarchal system. “We need laws to protect women and help them to achieve their goals.”   

Kulaya and Moyo affirmed that despite the huge gender inequalities existing in Africa and the world over, “We are not above men. We don’t want to undermine them, we love them,” Kulaya said. “All we are asking for is equality.”

Her Initiative was selected from more than 400 applicants by an independent committee of 12 international experts, including KBF Africa Prize past winners.

The King Baudouin Foundation is Belgium’s leading philanthropy institution and is active worldwide.

Photos: Lydia Charles Moyo and the Her Initiative team; Lydia Moyo; Mwamini Nicodemus, owner MyCloset and Digimali project beneficiary; Neema Thadeus Ngao, Kisarawe district  ©Imani Nsamila

Written by Liz Newmark