Noreen Chenesai Mukora-Mangoma is a Zimbabwean fashion entrepreneur and founder of the multi-faceted Chenesai Brand, which celebrates African women through dynamic economic styling. The brand is dedicated to the recovery, revelation and celebration of that which has sustained African women of colour over the centuries.
How the brand came into being draws nothing short of a pedigree of inspiration as it draws from Chenesai’s life and educational experiences. Some of the most precious memories from her childhood include visiting and supporting her grandmother Evelyn Mazonde’s stalls at the Harare Gardens and different trade fairs. Watching her granny meticulously carve a successful small- scale trading career, which paved way for her mother’s success and well-being, nurtured within Chenesai, a desire to always want more, not only for herself but for the benefit of those around her. When her grandmother passed on, Chenesai made a commitment to working to increase the visibility of small-scale fashion traders as a means for them to create legacy businesses.
To date, an imprint of her grandmother lives in the different portfolios that constitute the Chenesai Brand (Chenesai Clothing and King K ‘Pants Brothers’).
After graduating from high school, Chenesai studied Law specializing in International Trade and Investment Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria and spent time in the United States working within the resource management sphere, as well as with Law firms in Zimbabwe upon her return in 2016.
It wasn’t long before the fashion bug hit, and she took up a business of fashion course in Kenya and thought of how to combine her passion for fashion with her International Trade and Investment Law in Africa educational background. It took looking within to see how these seemingly disconnected fields could be merged. The human element was the bridge, and from this, the community upliftment portfolio was birthed. Fashion presented itself as a form of expression and promoting African brands. The International Trade and Investment Law in Africa portfolio tendered a means to create avenues for small-scale traders to optimize their output within the value chain, while the community upliftment portfolio focused on the upliftment of women and girls by increasing market access for micro to small scale fashion traders.
Under the community upliftment portfolio, Chenesai curates and implements projects aimed at sustainable empowerment within the community–specializing in solving community-based problems from the ground up, through mutual engagement that leads to ownership and sustainable idea sharing, and her eponymous video podcast aimed at sustaining the voice of hope.
Her larger-than-life personality is evident in everything she touches and pursues. She’s a heart determined to make a mark and spread light for generations to come, to tell stories through her brand – an entity built from passion, intent and purpose – and to nurture in others, what she was afforded by her grandmother, opportunity, platforms and success.
A committed social change agent and trade lawyer working in creative economy strategy and development in Zimbabwe, Chenesai has led multinational development investments and programs for UNDP, the British Council and Hivos and at the National level has contributed to establishing the first Creative Industries Network of Zimbabwe.
In 2020, Chenesai et al. established Muzeezo Mupati, a centralized multidisciplinary creative and cultural marketplace where music, food, wellbeing, fashion, literature, visual art and film intersects.
Currently running her business out of the farming region of Marondera. She is also a motivational speaker engaged in mentorship programs in girls’ schools, offering a series of talks on “The Power of Choices: A discussion on life and career”.
Editorial: This month, #enthuse, through our #SheCreatesMarch feature series, celebrates the work of thirty-one Zimbabwean women creatives, the contributions and achievements they have made throughout history, culture, and society. The idea is to elevate visibility for commercial projects and commissions. Discover the work of avant-garde creatives who embody the spirit of the month by uplifting and empowering women. Representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines, these women share one thing in common: their dedication to supporting women and sharing their stories through art and creativity. We are thrilled to share their work. And this month is about them. #ChooseToChallenge