Graduate Pushes Through Own Boundaries to Emerge with PhD
As his home country of Zimbabwe is currently facing various socio-economic challenges such as a lack of financial access by the rural communities to cash crisis and liquidity, PhD in Management graduate, Dr Thulani Dube, is hopeful that his research can be used to positively influence policy formulation and direction especially to monetary authorities and the Zimbabwean government at large.
Titled: Mobile Money as a Strategy for Financial Inclusion and Improving Livelihood of Rural Consumers in Zimbabwe, Dube’s study supervised by Dr Bibi Chummun explores ways that monetary authorities through the development and improvement of financial inclusion policies that are pro-poor communities can better the lives of these citizens.
‘The research is very topical and current to Zimbabwe now as the development of mobile money and its adoption presented an opportunity to overcome the above-mentioned challenges. This generated a research interest in me to assess how this innovation has helped to overcome these challenges in the past and how can they be used to improve people’s lives in the future,’ he said.
While Dube - who is a lecturer in the Department of Marketing at Bindura University of Science Education - was seeking to contribute to solutions for his country’s challenges through exploring his research interests in e-commerce, e-banking, and mobile banking, he had his own hurdles to overcome.
‘I was diagnosed with diabetes and it really affected my progress as I had to walk long distances with my research assistant to collect data which was difficult due to my health, poor road networks and how the homesteads are organised. However, in the end it became fun as we interacted with the respondents as some viewed us as agents of mobile network providers and it was interesting to see the country side,’ he said.
His supervisors leaving the institution in the beginning of his studies and the financial strain of his studies on his family were the other challenges he had to overcome. In the end however, things worked out as he ended up with ‘the best supervisor’.
‘My family budget was severely affected as the research was not funded. I had to save to finance my travelling expenses. My new supervisor, Dr Bibi Chummun, was a great support in every way to all these challenges as she always checked up on me. At times she would just call to find out how I was doing not necessarily to check on my study progress but find out about my health, family and life in general. That kept me going as I would have given up if I didn’t have her in my corner,’ he said.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Rogan Ward