Since the inception of “Millennials on a Mission” almost two years ago, I’ve been humbled by the stories of dozens of my peers that are making monumental moves domestically. Today’s Millennial on a Mission spotlight, however, is a 20-year-old changemaker that hails from The Republic of Zambia — a beautiful landlocked country located in Southern Africa.
I first learned of this MOAM’s work via email few months ago. Just from her website, not only could I tell that she was poised, intelligent and graceful, but that she really was dedicated to making a difference in her community and country. As the first international “Millennial on a Mission” that I’ve featured, I’ve got to say that this is a pretty special moment for me, and I look forward to shedding light on more of my peers from across the pond.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Stella Mutale Sata.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Stella is the daughter of the Fifth President of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata with the Late Dr. Matildah Macarius Mutale, and is currently a doctoral candidate in business administration at Walden University. She has her Master’s from the University of South Wale, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University, and a Diploma in Business Administration from Nilai University in Malaysia. (You GO GIRL!) “As such, my college and university experience is quite diverse having the opportunity to have lived and studied in four continents,” Stella says. “At the moment, in addition to running my own business, The Stella Project and studying, I am working as a Consultant for Investment Services at the Zambian International Trade and Investment Centre.” There, her job requires her to promote investment in Zambia and to facilitate investment opportunities and projects.
CC: What inspired you to begin ‘The Stella Project’? How has your community played a role in this endeavor, and why do you think it is important for millennials to support one another? How does your project prepare millennials to be changemakers?
SMS: The Stella Project has been inspired by many things and people, one of them being Regina Agyare from Ghana. She was the first woman I profiled under Stella People and Opportunity Desk- the platform that continues to inspire a lot of change-makers by matching them to different opportunities.
At first, it was just an idea that I kept sharing and brainstorming on but now it is a social enterprise that is an umbrella of ‘Stella Projects’. We want to support people, we want to build the next generation of leaders, we want to inspire and we want to do this one Stella project at a time.
My community has been very supportive. I have already gotten wide spread support on the projects we are going to embark on next year and all we are doing is the formulation of strategy before doing the actual work. Different people have come together to take up different roles. It’s an amazing experience.
Recently, The Stella Project has partnered with one of Zambia’s best sculptors to launch the “Educ8 Future Sculptors’ Project“, an initiative that will have young artists join him while he teaches them how to sculpt. Additionally, this apprenticeship will pay the students a monthly stipend (from the sculptor’s jobs) but under the condition that they go to school during the week. This project will be our way of removing the children from the streets, giving them a way to earn an income and develop a skill that they earned out of circumstance, and allowing them the chance to get an education.
CC: Have you encountered any personal challenges in building your enterprise at such a young age? How have those challenges encouraged you to keep pressing forward toward your goals, and what have you learned from them?
SMS: My first real challenge was the passing of my mum. The Stella Project just began in May 2014. Therefore, it was quite a blow when merely three months after, my greatest pillar of strength left this world. It has not been easy to pick myself up and focus on the social enterprise. It took a lot of healing. What has encouraged me the most were my mother’s last few words to me three days before she passed on. They were words of encouragement and asking me to continue my dreams regardless of what happened. I didn’t know they were her final words, but I hold on to them every day.
Another thing that has allowed me to be able to keep building is the support system I have in place. I have a brilliant c- founder and Managing Director – David Nelson, who is fully capable of standing up when I am unable to. I also have friends, family and fans who continue to encourage me and ask me to keep on keeping on.
I guess the best lesson to learn from this is that one, no matter how brilliant he or she can be, needs a strong support system that won’t let him or her crumble.
CC: What initially encouraged you to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship and philanthropy? Who are some of your inspirations in these fields, and what is your ultimate vision for ‘The Stella Project’?
SMS: I have always been the kind of girl that wants to give back to the community. I believe the only difference in how I am giving back now and how I used to give back a year and a half ago is that I am no longer focused on gifts and donations, but in self sustainability and growth of a community. I believe this comes from being much more exposed as well as personal growth, which made me realize that occasionally donating food, money or clothes was simply not enough.
I envision The Stella Project building people across Africa through our mini Projects. I envision The Stella Project becoming a global community that is set on working together towards the common good of building people through building dreams and transforming nations through reforming lives.
When it comes to thought leaders in social entrepreneurship and philanthropy, my inspirations include Bill Drayton (founder of Ashoka) and Muhamad Yunus who brought to light Microfinance and Social Capitalism.
To Stella, a “Millennial on a Mission” is a young person who is focused on a positive dream/goal and will stop at nothing to achieve it. “I strive to live and achieve my dreams daily by reminding myself of them every morning,’ Stella says. “As I say my morning prayer, I reiterate the things I need to achieve in my life and remind myself what I have done towards achieving those goals.”
Her piece of advice for her millennial peers? Identify a goal that is in line with taking care of God’s business. “Changemaking is not easy, it may even be easier to get a corporate job and wait on a salary at the end of the month,” Stella exclaims. “Change making requires the type of endurance and perseverance that I have never encountered in any other area of my life.” While many people won’t understand your vision or your purpose and there will be a lot of road blocks, Stella believes that we should work on a goals that align with taking care of God’s business. “Because when you are taking care of God’s business, He will be taking care of yours and reminding you that change making is worth it. Keep Him in the driver’s seat.”