Tino, MCW Young Leaders Program Alumnus, on his Journey from Zimbabwe to Belgium, and the Inspiration for his Book “The Black Opportunity”
In this insightful interview, Tino Chibebe, a start-up operator, board member, and author from Zimbabwe, talks about what moving to Brussels, Belgium, 11 years ago taught him and how he was inspired to write his book “The Black Opportunity,” about a year ago.
Through his book, which he believes connects people, he discusses venture capital, technology, Afropean entrepreneurship, and the journeys and challenges Black founders face in the industry.
In this piece, he reflects on how he stays connected to his roots in Zimbabwe and dwells on his experience tackling racial inequalities in Belgium.
Furthermore, Tino discusses how he successfully wears multiple hats and manages his time and efforts amongst several engagements and continuous learning.
He touches upon the transformative power of connections and relationships from his engagement with MCW Global.
You have been living in Belgium for over a decade now. Could you walk us through the transition between the two countries?
Luckily, I moved when I was 16, so I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Because of this, I was able to form strong relationships with my friends and family members. Social media helps a lot these days. A second thing is that I am a social person; I am very extroverted. Since we moved, we go back every two years on average, so the connection is still there.
Coming to Brussels was the first time I realized that I am black; what I mean by this is that in Zimbabwe, my doctor, my teacher, and everyone around me was black. There were no visible barriers regarding what I could be and who I could be.
However, in Brussels, it felt like there were specific places where you would see more black people, such as cleaners and bus drivers. Once you pass a certain threshold, the black people magically disappear, and it’s now all white institutions, mostly male. Here, I experienced some resistance to the fact that there is not a lot of representation.
Reflecting on what I learned from this experience, communicating with people I love helped. My book was a way of processing all these feelings and speaking about what it means for me to be black in Belgium and what it means for other people. Talking about coping mechanisms that people have adopted for themselves, finding community, and arranging my thoughts helped me along the way, and this is how I ended up putting my thoughts and experiences in my “The Black Opportunity” book.
In your book, you thoroughly explore how including Black voices in the venture capital space will shape the world for generations to come. If there is only one thing that you would like people to take away from your book, what would it be?
For various reasons, some people face different challenges, making it difficult to navigate the world. For instance, you have women facing a world where most decision-makers are men. You have black people navigating a world where most decision-makers are predominantly white, especially in the U.S. and Western Europe.
These issues have consequences, and it is through the collection of data and collaborative discussions that we strive to make the world more equitable. It is worth having a more equitable world because we create opportunities for the underrepresented. When we actively foster opportunities for the underrepresented, we contribute to a more equitable world and enhance overall fairness and success on a global scale.
In addition to being an author, you are also a Board Member and start-up operator. How do you continue expanding your knowledge and staying current in these different areas?
If I were to do only one thing, I would be bored to death. I thrive on engaging in multiple diverse activities simultaneously. I can easily show up to those other roles because I have a passion and interest for them.
I am a Board Member of #SheDIDIT, an NGO in Belgium supporting women entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds. I am passionate about supporting entrepreneurship, especially for underrepresented people, so it makes sense to be there and not find it hard. I am also an Advisory Board Member at SimpliCity Climate Investment Fund, which is focused on sustainability and climate-impacting technologies.
Showing up is one of the most vital aspects for me.
Continuing to follow up is crucial, and I aim to ask the questions I need answers to. I noticed that I am the youngest in most of these rooms, so it is also a great learning opportunity to learn things I don’t know, ask another generation what they think, and share my understanding and perspective.
Are there any resources or habits you find particularly helpful in your ongoing learning journey?
My morning routine helps me stay grounded, healthy, and organized. I wake up really early so I can have some quiet time for myself before the day starts and before everyone starts calling me. In this form, I gain some time for myself. I drink warm water to flush my system and do morning stretches and yoga, a practice I have been doing for three years.
I have goals cards; I write my goals. Every six months, I write different goals, depending on the progress that I have made for the six months. I write goals I want to accomplish in the next six months or throughout my life. I read them aloud, reminding myself what I should be doing and working toward each day. This practice is effective for me.
Then, I eat breakfast and create my daily to-do list, which comes from my running to-do list. People ask me if I can do this or that, and then I make my own list when I prioritize my top five tasks for the day. I transfer these five things to my to-do list afterward.
I spend around 30 minutes reading, then start my day job, etc. Sunday is my free time, and it’s the day I do whatever I enjoy.
What is one thing, lesson, or moment you still recall from your experience with MCW Global?
There are too many moments because I was with MCW Global for three years. What is unique about MCW Global are the people I still stay in touch with.
It’s Mallory Rothstein, who works with Google and has done amazing things. She actually inspired me to write my book. She posted about goal setting, so instead of having a buckle list, you have a hustle list. It positively reframes ‘things that I want to do before I die’ to ‘things I want to achieve actively and work towards.’
I was so inspired by it that I decided to write my own hustle list. Among some seemingly crazy things, I wanted to write a book, and by writing it down, I made it more real. MCW Global, Mallory, and her hustle list inspired me for the book.
I would also like to mention the impact of Kiko Muuo, founder of Angaza Elimu. His entrepreneurship journey also inspired me. His patience throughout this journey and how he managed his entrepreneurial journey’s ups and downs have helped me be patient with my own process and how I navigate it.
I cherish the people and connections from MCW Global the most. Without MCW Global, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.