Natalie Jabangwe-Morris: Leadership behind Africa’s leading mobile money transfer service provider

By Special Correspondent

Her business acumen and technology background set the stage for her current role at the leadership helm  of Ecocash . She was among the 26 African leaders selected for the Tutu prestigious Oxford  University  Tutu Fellowship from nearly 300 nominees from over 30 countries. Tutu Leadership Fellowship selects candidates who have demonstrated their potential to be top level leaders in their chosen fields and are people of integrity strong values and have passion for their fellow Africans.

Meet Natalie Jabangwe- Morris, The Head of Ecocash. Jabangwe-Morris has worked in the financial services industry for over 10 years, covering Europe, Middle East, and the Americas; she is a seasoned researcher and enthusiastic digital strategist with deep financial services and technology development experience. Prior to joining EcoCash, she was a Senior Mobile Financial Services Consultant at NCR Corporation, where she developed NCR’s digital strategy across 52 countries.

She attended boarding school at Duddley Hall Primary School in Norton at the age of nine and thereafter she pursued her high school at Chinhoyi High school till upper six. These years, she attributes as the most important years in her life. With parents who were always travelling, Natalie learnt not only to be independent but to be dependent wholly on God.

A call to leadership seems to have been ordained by God- both in primary and high school she was a school prefect, captain of the Hockey team or within when Scripture Union committee. She considers herself exceptionally normal, but endowed with favor. Soon after her A’ Levels, Natalie moved back to England, where she passionately wanted to pursue her degree in Law, to which her parents objected vehemently, encouraging her to decline an offer at a top law school and pursue a degree in computer science instead. After much prayer, Natalie accepted her parents were right, and to date is grateful their visionary dimension.

By the time she was in her second year, 2004 at Middlesex University, UK, Natalie received a Leadership Exchange scholarship for the most excelling female student, a scholarship which earned her a place at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, the best female African American institution in the US, and top 100 in World & New Report. The scholarship came with an opportunity to intern in the Mayor of Atlanta’s office. During Natalie’s time in the Mayor’s office, she was responsible for developing the City of Atlanta’s first IT Security policies.

Natalie joined NCI Limited in the UK as a Junior IT Consultant, being the first woman employed in one of London’s top growing financial services software firm. Her career evolved to computer engineering at she later served as a Senior Software Engineer at NCR Corporation. At NCR, Natalie rose to a Mobile Financial Services Consultant, where she was tasked to formulate NCR’s digital strategy.

The attained progress made Natalie realize the need to augment her strong technical competence with the requisite business proficiency, thus she enrolled at Imperial College London (one of the top ten universities in the world), to pursue an MBA. She was able to balance the demands of studying for that rigorous program, with the nursing of their first child, Danielle-Makatendeka (Popina), successfully completing her MBA and simultaneously developed NCR’s digital strategy. The strategy influenced NCR’s recent acquisition of Retalix for $650 million, and the alliance deal with PayPal.

Natalie’s work in Technology led her to become an ideator for an NFC based cashless wallet concept proposed at Imperial College London in the year 2012. This achievement won her idea a nomination at the 2012 Mayor of London’s Olympics’ business programme (showcasing London’s best technology innovations), leading an all-male team, 8 months pregnant and representing Imperial College London, UK.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Natalie is a published business technology columnist on online platforms who contributes to the worldwide body of knowledge, and advises conglomerates on how to apply technology as a pillar for corporate innovation. Natalie often speaks at technology hubs and advises start-up’s on formulating sustainable business models.

Before year-end of 2013, Natalie was head hunted by Econet Wireless in Zimbabwe, and presented with the opportunity to head the business and market development of Eco Cash: Africa’s fastest growing mobile money transfer service. Natalie relocated to Zimbabwe in January 2014 to take up that position, and has never been more humbled and grateful to be serving in what is arguably Zimbabwe’s most innovative firm – Econet Services.

“We believe that serving one’s followers with selfless inspirational leadership based on strong values is the critical ingredient that is going to catapult Africa forward socially, politically and economically,” commented Peter Wilson, co-founder of AFLI. “The Tutu Leadership Fellowship was created in order to maximize the impact that leadership can have, whether at a country level, across the continent or even globally.”

Tutu Fellows are exceptional African leaders from all walks of life and different parts of society who use their leadership abilities to help transform the continent. Selected candidates are those who have demonstrated they have the potential to be top level leaders in their chosen fields in Africa within the next few years and who will lead with integrity, strong values and passion for their fellow Africans. With the financial support of GlaxoSmithKline, Investec, Centum, Rio Tinto, Barclays Africa, Thomson Reuters and Allen & Overy and in collaboration with Oxford University, the Class of 2017 will be exposed to some of top African and global leaders, strategists and thinkers.