Zain Verjee: A CNN JournalisT and CEO of Zain Verjee Group

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Zain Verjee is the Founder & CEO of Zain Verjee Group. A private media house based in New York and Nairobi with a focus on African businesses and lifestyle stories. She is a former CNN anchor and correspondent. Winner of the the “Innovation Catalyst Award 2016. Her life is an embodiment of hard work and commitment to Journalism.

Background and Early Life

Zain Verjee was born on February 11, 1974 in Kenya. She attended Hillcrest Prep School and Hillcrest Secondary School in Nairobi. She received her undergraduate degree in English from McGill University in Montreal. Later on, She graduated from Oxford University with a Masters of Studies degree in Creative Writing. Verjee is an Ismaili Muslim, a minority group in the Shia sect of Islam. When she was 23, she published a children’s book, Live & On the Air. It explores the experiences of a young girl who moves from rural Kenya to Nairobi to work as a broadcaster. In January 2014, Verjee reported that she had struggled with psoriasis since her childhood and though it affected the way she related with others, she won the battle against the disease through eating well and maintaining a good mental attitude.

Career and Journalism

Zain Verjee first worked as a radio DJ for 98.4 Capital FM. She became more interested in journalism after her involvement with reporting the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which was close to the radio station. She became a news presenter on Kenya Television Network shortly afterward, as well as doing some work for the BBC.
in 1998. Verjee joined CNN in 2000 as the State Department correspondent covering Condoleezza Rice. As an anchor and correspondent, she wasn’t just witnessing history unfold; she was shaping it. From the 9/11 attacks to the complexities of the Iraq War, her ability to navigate sensitive situations and extract meaningful insights from world leaders earned her a reputation for hard-hitting, thought-provoking reporting. Verjee travelled the world covering U.S. foreign policy. Among her journeys, she covered the trip Rice took to Libya, and eventually was a lead reporter covering the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Zain reported from the Korean DMZ, winning an award for the coverage on July 2016. In September 2006, she interviewed the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami on his first visit to Chicago.
In April 2014, Verjee announced she was leaving CNN after 14 years to create her own media production company.

Business and Entrepreneurship

In 2008, she founded “theZVG,” a media advisory firm specializing in emerging markets. This powerhouse empowers businesses and organizations to navigate the intricacies of African landscapes, bridging cultural gaps and forging successful partnerships. This wasn’t just a business venture; it was Verjee’s commitment to Africa’s development in action.
Her desire to nurture Africa’s creative spirit led her to co-found aKoma Media in 2011. This network of workspaces provides a haven for artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators to collaborate, share ideas, and bring their visions to life. Unfortunately, aKoma Media shut down in 2019 due to financial hardships.
Her other ventures include Amplify, a content creator fellowship with participants from East/West Africa and the U.S., in partnership with MasterCard Foundation.

Awards and Achievements

Zain Verjee’s achievements aren’t mere accolades; they’re legacies. Through her journalism, she’s given voice to the voiceless and shed light on critical issues. Here are IS Alist of her acolades and recognitions. In 2006, Zain was awarded CNN’s “Global Excellence” Award for her reporting from the Korean DMZ. In she was Shortlisted for the Peabody Award for her coverage of the Kenyan political crisis. CARE International recognized her for her reporting on African women’s issues. She Featured in “100 Leading Global Thinkers” list by Foreign Policy magazine in 2010. Zain Verjee’s Entrepreneurial Recognition includes being shortlisted for the “Social Enterprise of the Year” award by the World Business and Development Awards (2012) for aKoma Media. In 2013 She Featured in “Forbes Woman Africa: Changemakers” list. And in 2016, She won the “Innovation Catalyst Award” by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

A Legacy that Continues to Empower

Zain Verjee’s achievements aren’t mere accolades; they’re legacies. Through her journalism, she’s given voice to the voiceless and shed light on critical issues. Her entrepreneurial ventures empower individuals and communities, fostering creativity and driving economic growth. Her dedication to knowledge sharing and public discourse sparks important conversations and inspires positive change.
As Verjee continues her multifaceted journey, one thing remains certain: Zain Verjee’s dedication to excellence, her passion for Africa, and her commitment to making a difference will continue to inspire and empower for years to come. Her story is a testament to the power of one individual to create positive change across diverse fields, leaving a lasting impact on the world around her.

Zain Verjee
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