The world’s focus on the urgent need to advance the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has never been greater. We know that business as usual cannot continue if we are to achieve the SDGs—every organization has a role to play.
According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report (2019), Zimbabwe ranks 121 out of 162 countries measured on the global SDG index. Our country index score (59.7) is slightly above the regional average of 53.8 with noted advancements in gender equality and decent work and economic growth.
At the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), we are championing diversity, inclusivity, and equal access to the profession through our Vimbiso Scholarship Trust. Vimbiso was established in 2015—the same year the SDGs launched—as a collaboration between ICAZ and our students’ body, the Chartered Accountants Students Society. Vimbiso provides financial assistance to academically gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds wishing to pursue careers as Chartered Accountants.
The program advances several SDGs: quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and reducing poverty and inequalities.
Vimbiso Scholarship Trust beneficiaries study at the top local universities in Zimbabwe. This exposure gives students the best education possible and helps ensure they are prepared for their Chartered Accountant qualification examinations.
Some of our students have been so impacted by this educational opportunity that they are aiding disadvantaged students in their community. Our scholarship recipients are offering free tutoring in their communities. The benefits of the scholarship fund are thereby amplified across Zimbabwe. We are proud that Vimbiso is nurturing responsible community leaders who will pay it forward.
The Vimbiso Scholarship Trust Fund also promotes gender equality by ensuring that equal opportunities are given to both female and male applicants. As applications are currently received from more male students, the Vimbiso Scholarship Trust is making a deliberate effort to ensure balance. ICAZ has partnered with the Women Chartered Accountants Network to ensure female students are aware of the scholarship and apply. Significantly, we are also working to ensure our female students are properly supported during their qualification because we’ve noted a lower final completion rate for female than male students.
Decent Work, Economic Growth, and Reducing Inequalities
Higher-quality education drives successful examination completion and ability to enter the workforce sooner—thereby contributing to decent work opportunities. However, the cost of tertiary and professional examinations is out of reach for many in Zimbabwe. The Vimbiso Scholarship Trust Fund helps to bridge this gap.
Prior to receiving financial support through Vimbiso, most of our beneficiaries were unable to further their studies due to a lack of funding. The program supports their education and gives them a brighter future.
The education and mentorship students receive prepares them for work and leadership opportunities. Vimbiso not only opens doors to decent work opportunities for beneficiaries but also impacts students’ families. Vimbiso students stand to have a better future due to their enhanced education and are therefore better positioned to provide financial support to their families. Thus, Vimbiso supports overall poverty reduction in Zimbabwe as well.
We are proud that ICAZ demonstrates the role that PAOs can have in contributing to the SDGs. It is up to all of us to take stock of how we can make a more sustainable, inclusive world. In the spirit of SDG 17, partnership for the goals, we look forward to collaborations that can continue this success.