Zim model clinches entrepreneurship deal
Bryan Zhawi Arts Correspondent
Zimbabwean model, actress, voice-over artiste and economist Yollanda Chimbarami recently secured a spot in Canada’s “North-Forge” Founders programme.
The programme is an initiative that supports businesses through various stages, including custom research, product validation, customer engagement, marketing strategies, accounting and mentorship from industry experts.
The programme is going to help her push her shoe brand “YC Yollanda,” which she launched recently.
Reflecting on her experience, the lanky model who is based in Canada and finished in the top 20 at the Miss Intercontinental 2022, highlighted the programme’s impact on her career as a business model.
“In June 2023, I joined Canada’s North Forge Founders programme, guiding science-based start-ups with tailored support from idea to acceleration,” she said.
Chimbarami said the “Business to Consumer” and “Business to Business” facilitated by North Forge Founders programme have offered valuable networking and pitch opportunities.
“It led me to the top 10 in a recent business pitch competition, enhancing fund-raising prospects,” she said.
“It’s a process where to can have opportunities and sell your product via tthe internet. I am motivated by my past experiences during hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.”
Chimbarami said the inspiration behind her shoe brand was her parent’s support her for business.
“My parents’ businesses were severely affected, leading us to make drastic lifestyle changes,” she said. “I recall days of financial struggle, from owning five pairs of shoes to just one. This scarcity and mismatched footwear motivated me to create a shoe brand that could be interchanged to suit various styles.”
Chimbarami’s upbringing played a crucial role in fostering a creative mindset.
“Growing up, I had very supportive parents. In third grade, my father noticed my artistic inclinations and ensured I had the necessary art tools to bring my visions to life in a sketchbook,” she said.
As a model, Chimbarami integrated her shoe collection into the fashion industry during Miss Intercontinental in Egypt last year.
“I introduced the brand publicly during my time at Miss Intercontinental in Egypt as part of my product test,” she said.
“It was the perfect platform to discuss this new environmentall- friendly brand. Surprisingly, I received fantastic responses, especially from the girls at the camp.”
Looking ahead, Chimbarami aims to empower women by providing her shoe collection to local pageants.
“I aspire for brand YC to empower more women by sponsoring pageants, particularly Miss World or Miss Universe. I hope to rock my brand on another international platform,” she said.
Asked what’s next in her modelling career, Chimbarami wished to contest at the Miss World pageant.
“It is my dream come true to represent Zimbabwe at the Miss World pageant.
“I remember taking part at the Miss World Zimbabwe pageant though I didn’t make it, but I am happy that I hold the record for being the youngest finalist at the age of 16.”