Dr. Mejury Chipato on Overcoming Rejection & Rising from an Impoverished Community

Dr. Mejury Chipato has many roles. She is a medical doctor, microbiologist, pastor, entrepreneur, businesswoman, philanthropist, leader, mentor, author and life and business coach. She has also won multi-awards, including the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards and has been honoured by The International Internship University (India) as one of the Most Inspiring Woman of The Earth awardees and the World Record of the Earth 2022.

Mejury was also appointed as the National Executive of the Zimbabwe Young Influencers. She is the CEO of ProMJ Incorporated company, and the founder of Patience of Hope Foundation, a non-profit charity organization whose aim is to pay school fees for orphans and underprivileged children.

How would you describe yourself?

I am an extroverted introvert goal-getter, a creative and organized individual, dynamic, serious, with an analytical mind and open-minded. I am initiative in decision-making, apt at delegation, with an innate sense of communication in group settings and can work with a diversity of people. I am determined to succeed, eager to learn, and I enjoy setting goals and standards for myself. Above all and before acquiring all these titles, achievements and awards, I am just a young lady who comes from a humble background – from the ghetto of Mbare, Zimbabwe.

Tell us about your journey to become a medical doctor. What lessons can you give other young ladies from that experience?

My journey to become a medical doctor hasn’t been an easy one. When I was going to Advanced Level (A-level) studies, I was first enrolled as a commercials department student (studying mathematics, economics, management of business and accounting) because of the Ordinary Level (Form 4) final results which came out late. I later switched to the sciences department, studying mathematics, biology and chemistry.

Then I was arrested when I had just started Form 5 of Advanced Level studies and spent a night in a police cell, later dragged to court and almost got convicted as a felon for a crime I didn’t commit. I got false HIV-positive results at the time when I was about to leave the country for university studies under a fully funded government scholarship, which led me to almost lose the scholarship.

When I reached Algeria, I first studied microbiology in French for a period of five years and even repeated the first year of microbiology due to enrolling very late before starting medical school. Mind you, this was after I got rejected twice from entering the medical school after my first and second application attempts.

Afterwards, I was offered veterinary sciences instead of the medicine degree that I had applied for on my third application attempt into the school of medicine. On my fourth application, I was again rejected but this time due to my advanced age. In total, I got rejected for entry into medical school four times before finally getting accepted at the age of 25. I eventually got accepted into medical school on my fifth application attempt, and this time I used my microbiology degree to do the application.

I studied with people who were younger than me. I was the oldest in class with the youngest being nine years younger. From the journey that I went through, I would heartily encourage anyone: don’t give up your dreams. Rejection and delay is not denial. Age is just a number; don’t let your age stop you from achieving your dreams. Most importantly, work hard, be patient and pray to God.

How do you manage being a professional and also being involved in other influential positions, i.e., microbiologist, businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, pastor and coach?

I try to integrate my roles as best as I can. I apportion a specific amount of time to each responsibility and ensure that I handle what is presently demanding my focus with as much excellence as I can muster at any given moment. When it’s time to be a doctor, my patient gets my undivided attention. When it’s time to handle business and the foundation’s affairs, I try to delegate to my teammates the tasks that do not require my personal input or automate them as best as I can so that I can reserve myself for my best use and do what I can do at the highest possible level of excellence. Being a pastor and a coach is a lifestyle; how I live my life preaches to people and teaches people something. I put extreme effort in everything I do, be it in my job, in business, philanthropy work, as a pastor, a mentor and coach.

Of all the roles you play in the business and social life, which one do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy sharing and teaching people about business and helping them to start their own businesses. I love to see people make it and flourish in their businesses. Socially, I love to network with different people from different classes, social backgrounds, etc. This helps me with building my social capital, strengthening business connections, getting fresh ideas and a new perspective, gaining more knowledge regarding different areas, raising my profile, getting new opportunities, building long-lasting personal relationships and the like.

Tell us more about your book I’m in Charge of my Narrative. What was the motive behind the book?

The book is about a storied journey that begins in rural areas and captures the African setting of life in a ghetto of Mbare in Harare, Zimbabwe, criss-crossing over to the dynamic setting of university life in Algeria. And [just at the moment you think the narrative is over], a new chapter begins in the backdrop of the People’s Republic of China. This is the story of a young girl from the ghetto of Mbare, a place infamously attributed as being incapable of producing anything good.

I was born in the rural areas, in Gutu, Masvingo, and I grew up in Mbare. There is a popular saying associated with Mbare: Nothing good can ever come out of Mbare. Very few people coming from my community have made it as this place is highly associated with drugs, crimes and social ills. In many ways, the aforementioned statement has proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, and every negative thing associated with Mbare has only served to further reinforce this stereotype.

My background is the source of my motivation to succeed. As someone who grew up in Mbare, which is a relatively impoverished area, I always wanted to be different. I wanted to not only make an impact in my community but also inspire and teach the young people in my community and other ghetto areas that Mbare is just a place, but it doesn’t determine your entire life’s narrative.

Most people believe that nothing good comes out of Mbare; I opted to defy this expectation. I wanted to rewrite the narrative.

I was inspired to write this book because I felt a sense of responsibility and obligation to share my story with the world, particularly with those who are going through various challenges, with the aim of helping them transcend their situations and not give up on their dreams despite the overwhelming pressure to do so and thereby subscribe to the status quo.

I wanted to encourage those who are overwhelmed by life circumstances that their dreams and aspirations are worth fighting for no matter how long it may take, to motivate those coming from impoverished communities that their lives shouldn’t be determined by their backgrounds and to inspire everyone who’s facing their own version of Mbare (limitations and obstacles) to take charge of their narratives!

I wrote this book because of the journey I had to go through, the journey I am still on. A journey with [multifaceted] aspects people can hopefully relate to. I want to encourage someone going through a hard time and give them [the gift of] hope. This book is not simply a narrative and chronological retelling of life events. It is the portrait of my life thus far, the challenges I have faced and had to transcend, the lessons I have picked up as well as the woman I have become in the process.

What is the ProMJ Incorporated company and Patience of Hope Foundation?

ProMJ Incorporated company is a registered company which encompasses different businesses, including fashion businesses (MJ Fashions, MJ Bridals, House of MJ, Brand Merjory, etc.), transport businesses and many others.

Patience of Hope Foundation is a non-profit charity organization whose aim is to pay school fees for underprivileged children in remote areas areas of Zimbabwe. The vision of the foundation is to pay school fees for orphans and underprivileged children. Our mission is to advocate, promote and ensure that every child has equal access and opportunity to equal and universal education. Our motto is “Better build children than repair old men.”

What do you consider as the factors ladies should consider when investing in business?

  • Before you start a business, you need to do a research on the type of business that you want to venture into – for instance, the kind of product that you want to sell. Research about its availability and easy accessibility.
  • Check out the quality of the product. For example, if you want to sell clothes, like I do, most customers prefer good quality. Think about the pricing of the product; compare between the buying price and the selling, keeping in mind the profit that you will make. It is very important to do a background check on the suppliers where you want to buy your products from. Are they reliable, genuine, trustworthy and do they produce and deliver the products on time? Think about where you will do this business, be it your home, renting a shop, at the flea markets or on the streets.
  • Try to look for somewhere where it is legal to avoid issues like your business being shut down by the city council (town authority). It is also important to think of who will sell your products. Will it be you or someone else? If it is someone else, are they reliable, honest and good to customers?
  • Then you should also look into the audience or clientele that you want to target. Can they afford the things that you want to sell? I want to encourage you to start a business for the purpose of significance and not just for survival or success.
  • When you start your business, don’t give in to competition. There is no traffic when you are in your own lane! Remember, you are running your own race. Prepare in advance for losses because they are bound to come one way or the other. Be ready when they do.
  • When you get profit, use it to invest back into your business. Don’t eat your profits! The importance of this cannot be overstated. Consider each dollar that you receive as an investment soldier whose mission is to bring more finances into the business. Learn about financial management; you can do that by watching videos on YouTube.
  • Find mentors who are doing well in the line of business you are venturing into. And it’s equally important to celebrate other businesses which are doing well! You want your business to be successful; celebrate those who have successful businesses. You can never be or become what you despise!
  • And finally, doing business is not for the faint-hearted. It’s not easy to start and maintain a business. Start small, and move on to the next level, one step at a time. Don’t give up! Make a vision board about your business, concerning what you want to achieve in a certain duration of time – for instance, over three months, six months, one year, two years, five years, 10 years, etc. And make a list of your short- and long-term goals in your business and start executing them one goal at a time.

What keeps you going in tough times?

I come from humble beginnings, and my background is my source of motivation to succeed. Growing up, I always wanted to succeed and change the narrative of my life and that of my family as well as being a motivation and inspiration to other young people. I aspired to be someone who people could look up to.

God, my parents (my family), and my big goals and dreams are the driving force; they keep me going. When I think of the many sacrifices that my family made for me to be where I am today, I get the strength to keep on going notwithstanding any challenges or circumstances. I want to make myself and my family proud as well as give back to my family and my community.

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