Our History

Planting the seeds for a great dream...

History of Tererai Trent International

Dr. Tererai Trent is one of today’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah’s “All-Time Favorite Guest”, Dr. Trent is a scholar, humanitarian, motivational speaker, educator, mentor, and founder of Tererai Trent International.

Tererai grew up in a cattle-herding family in rural Zimbabwe, where she dreamed of getting an education, but was married at a young age and had three children by the time she was eighteen. Undeterred by traditional women’s role and cultural norms, Tererai determinedly taught herself to read and write from her brother’s schoolbooks.

As a young mother without a high school diploma, Tererai met a woman who would profound¬ly impact her life: Jo Luck, president and CEO of Heifer International. She told Tererai, “If you believe in your dreams, they are achievable”. With Jo Luck’s inspiration and her mother’s encouragement, Tererai wrote down her dreams of going to America for higher education, sealed them in a tin can, and buried them under a rock, ultimately redesigning the blueprint of her life.

Dr. Trent could not have imagined that her steadfast determination, hard work and belief in her dreams would eventually earn her multiple degrees, and a prominent global platform with world leaders and international audiences where she advocates for quality education for all. A two-time guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah donated $1.5 million to rebuild her childhood elementary school in Zimbabwe and in recognition of her tenacity and never-give-up attitude.

Today, Dr. Trent is a senior consultant with more than 18 years of international experience in program and policy evaluation, and has worked on five continents for major humanitarian organizations. With a desire to give back to her community and the firm belief that education is the pathway out of poverty, Dr. Trent founded Tinogona Foundation, now known as Tererai Trent International (TTI), whose mission is to provide universal access to quality education to children regardless of their gender or socio-economic backgrounds, and also to empower rural communities.

Through strategic partnerships with Oprah Winfrey and Save the Children, eleven schools are being built in Zimbabwe and education has been improved for over 5,000 children so far. In October 2013, Dr. Trent was a keynote speaker at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit where she used her growing voice to appeal to international businesses to invest in equal access to quality education. 

Leading the global charge in the fight for quality education for all children and women’s rights, Dr. Trent is invited to speak all over the world, to share her remarkable story and the valuable lessons she has learned along the way.

To learn more about Tererai’s amazing life story or to make a speaking request, please visit tererai.org.

Jo Luck, CEO of Heifer International,
told Tererai “If you desire your dreams,
they are achievable”

The original tin can where Tererai enclosed her dreams, and buried them under a rock.