Unlike the rest of his artistic family, Maraire claims to have no artistic bone himself, but harbours more talent in business. While pursuing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Industrial Sociology and Political Science and Labour Law, respectively, at University of Cape Town, Maraire was exposed to several social entrepreneurship initiatives.
Along with a friend, he developed a project called that helped integrate international students into the Capetonian environment, which he adapted and applied to the Zimbabwean context. Thus, Tiritose was created.
Tiritose is a not for profit Zimbabwean organisation that facilitates cross cultural exchange opportunities for Zimbabwean and international institutions. Tiritose organises community projects and also facilitates exchange programs that cater mostly to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees.
Their program also features volunteer opportunities that are targeted for anyone from gap year students to mid-career employees and even to even retirees who wish to spend some time in a different environment and making a difference.
Tiritose offers an internship program that helps place individuals who are interested in working in Zimbabwe. Maraire commented “We are building capacity in organisations that do not have the capacity to employ people permanently. If we bring a volunteer, we’ll take them to an organisation that is not able to pay for full time employment. So we’re not just saying, volunteer, come and we’ll put you in a place you’re not needed.”
Maraire is motivated by the fact that many outsiders’ perception of Zimbabwe is influenced by what they read and what they see in the news. By bringing people from all over the world to Zimbabwe through volunteerism, internships and exchange programmes, Tiritose is also helping to redeem Zimbabwe’s reputation by showing people that there is so much that Zimbabwe can offer with its rich culture. “I do this because I want to be part of the solution […] the solution to the challenges faced by Zimbabwe today”.
However, Maraire’s educational background has had minimal influence on this venture. What inspired him was actually his passion for as he puts it “working with and through people.” Maraire recalls how his friend Paul describes what he does: “Paul said to me if we were to describe what I do, it’s that our job is to have coffee with people, because half the times I’m meeting local people, I’m either meeting them at their offices or a coffee shop and talking about where is it that we can collaborate and try and assist, be it students, be it volunteers, and the projects that we’re building here.”
Tiritose has agreements with state institutions in Zimbabwe and is currently in talks with Africa University, one of the five private institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe, to form a partnership. Tiritose selects the top students from those trained by The Boost Fellowship (http://boostfellowship.org).
The funding that enables the Zimbabwean students to pursue exchange in foreign countries comes from private fundraising done by both Tiritose and The Boost Fellowship. However, Tiritose is working towards making the project sustainable within the next few years with the hope that by showing a good track record, they can attract funding.
They are a non profit that does not believe in applying for funding and constantly relying on it: “Once we get our projects going, the idea is that they will self fund. […] And if we do get a call from donors, that will supplement what we’re already doing.”
International students get to hear about Tiritose through various means. A few universities (for instance, Maraire mentioned Jade University of Applied Sciences in Germany) feature Tiritose on their career portals for students who opt for work in Zimbabwe.
Other international platforms like goabroad.com, gooverseas.com and volunteermatch.org also feature Tiritose. When the students come to Zimbabwe, there are many criteria to be considered before being placed.
What are their interests? What is their specialisation? What kind of environment do they prefer; rural or urban? Based on the students’ interests, Tiritose then organises work and accommodation for the students for the duration of their stay.
Maraire hopes the students take more out of their time in Zimbabwe than just the professional experience from their work: “When you come to Zimbabwe, your first week or two weeks is really about learning how things are done here, because as I was saying, we don’t ask for help. We don’t want people to come and assist us, we want people to come and become one of us, in a sense. And then once they learn about us, then we can start working together to come up with solutions.”
When asked how the success of such a model can be evaluated, Maraire shared the success story of a girl from Durham University in the UK who interned at a marketing agency and helped launch Fastjet. “If you want to use quantitative or qualitative measures, it’s measuring the amount of people who come in to Zimbabwe and then give you positive feedback when they leave. […] She’s going back now — didn’t really like sadza, so she wasn’t really talking about sadza — but she enjoyed the night life, the travelling around Zimbabwe. So she’s going back with a point of reference and if she speaks to anyone at Durham University right now, I’m positive that she would come back. So on a quantitative level, she rated us 8/10.”
Tiritose is not the pioneer of this concept however, although Maraire admits: “The temptation is always to say, we’re the first people to be doing this.” Nevertheless, what makes Tiritose different from similar, existing platforms in Zimbabwe is their ‘turn-key’ service or bilateral approach.
Maraire explained: “I worked for global organisations that do study abroad, but it’s mostly one way. It’s just like globalisation, it’s just one way. But at Tiritose, we’re also taking our people there. That’s one significant difference.
“And then the other one is in the name itself,that we are “building together” so we are saying that it’s meaningful volunteering for someone who’s doing it. No one is coming in with their own ways and imposing them on anyone. You are coming to learn, and once you learn you can start building with us.”