Timeline & History

Through much prayer, faith and commitment, Northrise University was founded in January 2004 in Ndola, Zambia. The dream and vision of Northrise had been placed on the hearts of Moffat and Doreen Zimba nearly 15 years earlier.

Student Life Graduation 2017


Through much prayer, faith and commitment, Northrise University was founded in January 2004 in Ndola, Zambia. The dream and vision of Northrise had been placed on the hearts of Moffat and Doreen Zimba nearly 15 years earlier.


Northrise University founders Dr. Moffat and Doreen Zimba are living proof that God can turn our lives into miracles if we offer Him our trust. As a small village boy, Moffat learned how to read and write in the sand so that he might have a chance for a better life. Without a higher education he was faced with the harsh possibility of living life on the streets. However, God had a different purpose for their lives. During a Bible study in their home, Moffat and Doreen received a vision to start a university in Zambia that would restore hope for the entire nation.

In faith, Moffat and Doreen left Zambia to attend a Bible college in Australia. Upon completion, God called them to Southern California where Moffat received his Doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary and Doreen received her MBA. While attaining graduate degrees brought their dream closer, it was the friendships and partnerships they made along the way which kept them on their path to start a university in Zambia.

After a 15 year journey, Moffat and Doreen returned home in 2003 to open the doors of Northrise University, the first nationally recognized private university in Zambia.

Northrise began with 50 students, two teachers and a bright future. While starting in a four story office building named Caravelle House in downtown Ndola, the founders continued to cast a vision for the future and requested a land grant for 30 acres outside of town to build a permanent campus infrastructure to educate and empower more students and add additional degree programs.

In response to their request for land the government granted Northrise University 640 acres to build a permanent campus infrastructure including land for agricultural development. By 2008 development of the infrastructure on the parcel of land granted by the government had begun with great plans for the future. In its first ten years Northrise has been blessed in so many ways. Northrise awarded 187 degrees and had grown to an annual enrollment of over 500 students in its first ten years. By the end of 2013, buildings on the main campus site included a student dormitory, classroom building (Kuhula House) and a medical clinic (NUCare). Northrise Farms, created in 2008 to facilitate agricultural development and plan for future sustainability, would continue to grow and produce much needed products for the University and surrounding community. The farm had expanded to 32 acres of bananas and 32 head of livestock and had produced and sold over 23,000 chickens in the first five years of operations.

But even as the blessings and accomplishments of the first ten years of Northrise University were being celebrated, plans were well underway for the next ten years. A master plan for Campus expansion was developed, a three phased capital campaign was launched, and another vital academic partnership was being discussed. The first ten years was a powerful reminder of God’s love, goodness and blessing upon the Northrise family, the faith and support of so many generous friends, the impact of Northrise graduates and students on their families, friends and community and the incredible opportunity to prepare students spiritually and academically and empower them to transform a nation.


The beginning of the second chapter of the Northrise story started in 2014 with the launch of “Advancing the Vision” a three phase, $15 million, six year capital campaign to build out the main campus and expand capacity to 2,000 students by 2025. With the support of the Board of Trustees, Directors and a few generous families enough funds were raised and construction of the new 26,000 square foot Campus Center and related infrastructure began in July of 2014.

After many years of faithful mission support from Baylor University, including their Sports Ministry Mission team and visiting professors, Northrise entered into a significant partnership with Baylor in May 2014. The new partnership focuses on programs and services that will enhance the impact of students and faculty from both universities and help encourage and promote Christian higher education in Zambia.

The next ten years are critical to the long-term future and impact of Northrise University. The vision to transform a nation is big and takes consistent, sustainable effort over a long period of time. As always, it takes men and women of faith with courage, competence and willingness to sacrifice to make transformation a reality. The clarity of vision and the refinement and successful implementation of the University’s Christ-centered mission will determine its impact for decades to come. As the journey continues it will require being excellent at what is good. My hope and my prayer is that you will join us.


The Board of Regents is comprised of a seven to eleven person board and is the legal governing body of Northrise University under the laws of Zambia. It functions as the board of directors for the University. The Board of Regents is charged with oversight of the spiritual and academic mission of Northrise, as well as operations of the University, approval of its annual budget and the build-out of the campus. Currently, five of the seven members of the Board of Regents are Board of Trustees members.


Provides Northrise University with development support in the U.S. based on the desired level of involvement by each member. . The Board of Trustees acts as an advisory body to the Board of Regents in developing the University’s short and long term capital projects and specific strategic initiatives. The Board of Trustees has no legal authority over Northrise University which rests solely with the Board of Regents. The Board of Trustees is authorized for up to 40 members and provides funding for U.S. operations so that 100% of all funds raised for scholarships and capital projects go directly to Northrise University in Zambia. While Northrise University Initiative (NUI)is primarily responsible for fundraising for Northrise operations and tuition assistance, the Board of Trustees is primarily responsible for supporting NUI operations and raising funds for capital campaigns for the build-out of the Northrise University campus.


A separate legal entity incorporated in the U.S. to facilitate and drive friend raising and fundraising efforts for Northrise. Northrise University Initiative (NUI) has been instrumental in raising funds for tuition assistance, operations and capital campaigns. NUI works in tandem with the Board of Trustees to support the mission and vision of Northrise University.


1988 - A vision is placed on the hearts of Moffat and Doreen Zimba by God to establish a private university in their home country of Zambia.

1990 - Moffat and Doreen leave Zambia, their families and their jobs to attend a university in Melbourne, Australia to study theology and information systems technology with their life savings of $1,000.

1996 - Arrive in the U.S. for Moffat to study at Fuller Seminary and Doreen to pursue her MBA.

1997 - With help from friends Moffat and Doreen develop the first strategic plan to launch Northrise University.

1999 - Moffat and Doreen apply to the Zambian government for the country’s first private university charter. Northrise University Initiative (NUI) is founded in the U.S. to support the Northrise mission by friend raising and fundraising.

2000 - Petition the city of Ndola for 30 acres of land to build the Northrise University campus including a farm to be used for work study and sustainability. The city responds by granting them 640 acres.

2002 - A generous gift enables Northrise to purchase a five story office building called “Caravelle” in downtown Ndola and renovate it to be used for classrooms and office space for the new university.

2003 - In May, the Zambian Ministry of Education grants a charter to operate Northrise University. It is the first charter awarded a private university in the history of Zambia. Moffat and Doreen return to Zambia to start Northrise University, the first private, Christian university in Zambia.

2004 - In January, Northrise begins classes with two instructors (Moffat and Doreen) and 50 students (40-Information Technology, 10-Theology).

2005-2007 - University continues to build strong programs based on a Christian worldview and strong academic standards. Northrise becomes a place of hope and empowerment gaining credibility with students, parents and the people of Ndola and Zambia. Friends and support in the U.S. and Australia increase as the story of what God is doing through Northrise is shared and more people “come and see” Northrise.

2008 - Construction of a new classroom building begins on the main campus. Development of Northrise Farms begins. The first Impact Ndola initiative is successful as students, faculty and friends from the U.S. work together to love and serve the people of Ndola.

2009 - Fifteen graduates earn business and theology degrees. Academic relationships are formed with California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) and Dordt College. Northrise joins the International Association for Partnership in Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE). Northrise Farms produces its first banana crop.

2010 - Academic programs expand from three to eight with enrollment of over 250 and 11 full time faculty. Three staff members pursue advanced degrees. First exchange student from Dordt College arrives in September. The first classroom building (Kuhula) is completed on the main campus. Northrise Farms continues to grow with four acres of bananas and over 1,200 chickens. Contract signed for the construction of the new medical facility (NUCare).

2011 - Eighty-six people from the U.S. partner with Northrise students and staff for Impact Ndola, a week-long community outreach to share the love of Christ with the people of Ndola. Enrollment grows to over 350 students. NUCare is opened to provide healthcare for students, staff and the surrounding community. First exchange student from Northrise sent to Dordt College.

2012 - The NUCare medical clinic is granted a license to operate by the Health Professions Council of Zambia and the Zambia Environmental Management Authority. Over 400 students are enrolled in 12 undergraduate and post-graduate programs. Fifty students graduate in front of over 300 guests including the Mayor of Ndola at the main campus. Northrise Farms continues to grow with 14 acres of maize (corn), 16 acres of bananas, 12,000 chickens and seven head of cattle.

2013 - Over 550 students are enrolled in 13 undergraduate and 2 graduate programs. Northrise awards 28 degrees including seven graduate business degrees. Graduate job placement is over 90%. Bachelor of Theology graduate receives a full scholarship to Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor. Over 201 guests visit Northrise for vision trips, Impact Ndola and various volunteer initiatives. Northrise Farms grows to 32 acres of bananas, nearly 20,000 chickens and 32 head of cattle.

2014 - Northrise celebrates its 10 year anniversary with thanksgiving and gratitude to God for all He has done. Student enrollment is 650 and over 250 degrees have been earned. Graduates are empowered to transform their families, communities and the entire nation of Zambia. A new partnership with Baylor University is formed. Advancing the Vision, a $15 million three phase capital campaign, is launched to buildout the main campus to increase student capacity to over 2,000.

2015 - The new Campus Center construction is well under way. The $3.2 million project will put over $1.2 million back into the local economy through job creation and material purchases. Northrise celebrates 42 new graduates. In July, Northrise students and staff lead Impact 2015 teams from the U.S. to share God’s love and serve in the community.

2016 - Graduation celebration and dedication of the new Campus Center occurs on June 4th with hundreds in attendance. Also in June, the Board of Regents is formed and all operations are moved to the main campus. Enrollment increases to 750 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Phase I of the capital campaign is completed and plans for Phase II are finalized.


Northrise University is on mission to develop Christ-centered dedicated professionals and globally engaged citizens devoted to the spiritual and economic transformation of Zambia and Africa.


1,000+ current students  |  56% male, 44% female  |  126 living on campus  |  500+ graduates

Northrise University is a premier Christian university in southern Africa preparing students for their unique God-given purpose.