By Harold Kapindu
Isn’t it rare to find a Malawian young woman who loves soccer, competed in an all boys soccer quiz and has a passion for Information Technology (IT)? Considering the Malawi stereotypes on women, Lorraine Mopiwa is one of the few personalities that Malawi is looking for to empower other young women in the country.
Born in a family of five children, Lorraine has been raised in Tanzania and South Africa for six years each in the two respective countries.
Lorraine owes her living outside the country to what she has achieved in life and what she is now.
“Growing up in Dar es Salaam prepared me to be who I am today. I met late Nelson Mandela, former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi and former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa. Meeting these prominent people shaped the direction I wanted in life, I admired these leaders and wanted to go into politics,” explains Mopiwa.
Mopiwa who has now changed from desiring to become a politician to becoming an Information Technology expert believes technology can change people’s lives. Adding that most politicians become greedy and power hungry and she discovered that there are other ways of transforming peoples’ lives in IT.
She says: “As a kid I wanted to join politics because I believed that politicians are there to serve the people up until realizing that there are other ways of helping the society. I started realizing the other ways; one way is through technology that is why I am passionate about what I do.”
“I want to be the first Malawian in IT to become the richest woman in the world,” says Mopiwa who was inspired by Condoleezza Rice and Oprah Winfrey.
“Ironically, I was inspired by the toughness of Condoleezza Rice and the gentleness of Oprah Winfrey. In this world, one has to have both characters. Oprah comes from a really humble background and she is now one of the richest women in the world while Condoleezza Rice has proven that women can also do better in politics just as good as men,” observes Mopiwa.
Mopiwa idolizes the two strong women saying, even though their fields are different, they both made it in entertainment and in politics likening herself as she is also in an IT industry where the majority including computer programmers and Chief Executive Officers are mostly are men.
Now employed as Corporate Affairs Manager by Techno Brain in Malawi, Mopiwa is also a Co-founder of Malawi Women in technology, a group of women meeting once in a week to share ideas on how they can make technology better and empower women to join in information technology field.
Malawi Women in Technology participates in events is currently a social club is trying to register it as a proper organization.
Mopiwa is also a Prospective member of Lio Lions Club which is a junior club for Lions Club.
A former International school of Tanganyika, Laureate International School and graduated from Kamuzu Academy, Mopiwa graduated from high school at Kamuzu Academy in Malawi.
“I have attended a lot of schools because my family was always moving. Attended International school of Tanganyika, Laureate International School in Tanzania and graduated from Kamuzu Academy in Malawi.
In her early high school days, Mopiwa achieved a lot for a younger girl. She won awards in sports and other competitions. She recalls being the only girl in an all boys soccer quiz.
She says: “. I once competed in an all boys soccer quiz for all schools in Dar es Salaam, I was the only girl representing my school, unfortunately we did not win but we became second. The quiz was organized by the British Council of Tanzania so it was mostly on British soccer. It was aired on national TV.”
While in Tanzania, Mopiwa also hosted a Euro Top 20 radio show on Sky Fm. The show was aired every Friday. She did it for three months before moving back to Malawi.
“I went ahead to study law and marketing and currently pursuing a computer science qualification,” says Mopiwa who was raised as a Presbyterian, now a Baptist.
“I used to be a Presbyterian but I am now a Baptist because I have been moving around and I used to attend a Baptist church in South Africa,” she narrates.
The Corporate Affairs Manager who is also Africa Ambassador for university of the people which offers online free tuition for development was awarded a scholarship for bachelors of computer science which she is currently studying.
Prior to her degree scholarship, she won an internship when studying at Management Center at University of Polytechnic in Blantyre, Malawi when she was studying marketing in 2006. She has worked with MTL then moved to South Africa, worked for a few number of companies where she started an online lifestyle magazine called Afrique Buzz.
“Afrique Buzz is still operating but it is not active because my current job is too demanding,” she whines.
Mopiwa, a former employee for a South African based Direct Stationary Suppliers as marketing consultant whose part of the her job was to find businesses across Africa was approached by Techno Brain in 2012, late 2013 she was promoted to Corporate Affairs Manager responsible for marketing, communications and any other issues to deal with law, policy making.
“Techno Brain initially offered me a job in Malawi as Marketing Executive and Executive Assistant to the group chairman. I had to come back because home is best,” she says.
In her leisure time, Mopiwa likes spending time with friends, plays golf and likes socializing by showing up in public events whether formal or informal.
She explains: “I love playing golf. I started playing casual golf in 2007. Recently, I was approached by the lady captain of national team, Regina Mwanza who heard my stories that I can be a Malawi golf national team material. Mwanza is now my Mentor, preparing me to become a national team player.”
Asked if she is going to make it she answers: “I think I can become a national team player because when I was playing socially I never cared about certain rules. I am quite competitive and if these ladies think I can make it I think I will.”
Being a modern girl with taste, she loves shopping. She describes herself as a shoeholic and a gadget girl.
“My work involves meeting prominent people from Government officials, business gurus and development partners i.e. Donors. I shopping so that I look good at all times. My favorite designers are Gian Marco and Lorenzo for shoes and Channel for clothes, spray and jewelry, Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo.
I have always been into gadgets. I used to play video games when I was young. It’s just that my current job is too demanding so time is not always on my side. You can ask my friends and family, I am a Gadget girl so I make sure I have the latest gadgets,” she says.
Mopiwa is engaged to a man of Croatian origin; he lives in South Africa and works as civil structure engineer. They plan to wed in 2016.
Many may describe Mopiwa by many adjectives but “Unique” is perhaps the only word that suits her. She is a strong, confident, smart young woman with a unique character. Adding to her uniqueness, is her patience and hard working spirit. That is quite unusual of a typical Malawian girl.
“I am proud of myself as a person. A lot of people have told me that I am unique. I believe that we are all the same regardless of sex. I like to be in the company of men and not feel threatened. I am proud of the life I have led. It has contributed to the kind of person I am,” she boasts.