Strive Masiyiwa

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Strive Masiyiwa
Born (1961-01-29) 29 January 1961 (age 54)
Residence  United Kingdom
Nationality  Zimbabwe
Occupation Businessman
Known for Founder and chairman of global telecommunications group Econet Wireless.
Home town London
Spouse(s) Tsitsi Masiyiwa
Children 6

Strive Masiyiwa (born 29 January 1961) is a London based African businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international telecommunications group Econet Wireless.

He has won numerous accolades and gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy, and is considered one of Africa’s most generous humanitarians.[1] Masiyiwa has used his wealth to provide scholarships to over 100,000 young Africans over the past 20 years through his family foundation. He supports over 40,000 orphans with educational initiatives; as well as sponsoring students at universities in America, The United Kingdom, and China.[2][3]

Masiyiwa also funds initiatives in public health and agriculture across the African continent.

In 2014 CNN's Fortune Magazine named Masiyiwa one of the 50 most influential business leaders in the world.[4]

Early Life & Education[edit]

Strive Masiyiwa was born in the African country of Zimbabwe on (29 January 1961). He attended primary school in Zambia before completing his secondary education in Scotland . He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wales.

Global Influence[edit]

Strive Masiyiwa serves on the boards of some of the most important global organizations, including; The Rockefeller Foundation,[5] US Council on Foreign Relations International Advisory Board,[6] the Asia Society, the Africa Progress Panel (APP),[7] Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA),[8] The Micronutrient Initiative of Canada,[9] Grow Africa, The African Union's (AU) EBOLA Fund,[10] Morehouse College Board,[11] and The Pan African Strategic Institute.

Masiyiwa also sits on two United Nations Advisory Panels [12] and is the only African member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience.[13]

Leadership and International Accolades[edit]

In 1998, the World Junior Chamber of Commerce, named Masiyiwa one of the "10 most outstanding young leaders of the world", an accolade previously bestowed to John Kennedy.

In 2003, a CNN Time Magazine poll, named Masiyiwa, one of the most influential business leaders in the world.

In 2012 President Barack Obama, invited Masiyiwa and four other business leaders to attend the 38th G8 summit at Camp David to address them on strategies on how to increase food production and end poverty in parts of Africa.[14]

In 2014 Fortune Magazine named Masiyiwa one of the 50 most influential business leaders in the world.[15]

In September 2014, the Chair of the African Union (AU), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, asked Masiyiwa to help mobilize resources for Africa’s response to the EBOLA outbreak. This was the first time The AU had asked a business leader to undertake such a role.[16][17] Masiyiwa, with the help of other leaders, set up the first ever Pan African fund raising campaign known as #AfricaAgainstEbola Solidarity Fund.[18]

The fund has raised millions of US dollars from the public using SMS donations, with contributions coming from many African countries. The donations enabled The AU to deploy the largest known contingency of African healthcare workers to combat the spread of the deadly pandemic.[19]

Business Career & Interests[edit]

Strive Masiyiwa returned to his native Zimbabwe in 1984 after a 17-year absence. After working briefly as a telecoms engineer for the State owned telephone company, he quit his job and set up his own company with the equivalent of US$75.[20] In just five short years, he had emerged as one of the country's leading industrialists, having built a large electrical engineering business.[21] The emergence of Mobile cellular telephony led him to diversify into telecoms, but he soon ran into major problems when the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe refused to give him a license to operate his business, known as Econet Wireless. [22]

Masiyiwa appealed to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, on the basis that the refusal constituted a violation of "freedom of expression". The Zimbabwean court, then one of the most respected on the continent ruled in his favour after a five-year legal battle, which took him to the brink of bankruptcy. [23] [24] The ruling, which led to the removal of the state monopoly in telecommunications, is regarded as one of the key milestones in opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital.[25] The company's first cellphone subscriber was connected to the new network in 1998. [26]

Masiyiwa listed Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in July 1998 on the local stock exchange as gesture of thanks to reward the thousand’s of ordinary people who supported him during his long legal battles against the Zimbabwean government.[27] Today, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has gone on to become a major business that dominates the Zimbabwe economy. [28] It is currently the second largest company in Zimbabwe by market capitalization. [29]

In March 2000, Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe never to return to the country, and moved first to South Africa. There he founded The Econet Wireless Group, a new and completely separate organisation to the listed Zimbabwean entity.

His main interest remained in telecoms. Some of the key businesses that he established with partners, included:

Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Global, Mascom Wireless Botswana, Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), Econet Satellite Services, Lesotho Telecom, Econet Wireless Burundi, Rwanda Telecom, Econet Wireless South Africa, Solarway, and Transaction Processing Systems (TPS). He has also has interests in mobile operations in New Zealand, Bolivia, and Dominican Republic. The company he created is known to have operations and investments, in more than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, US, Latin America, and New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, and China. [30] [31]

After more than 10 years in South Africa, Masiyiwa moved to London, however, he still retains significant business interests in South Africa.

Econet Wireless Group (Econet)[edit]

Econet Wireless (Econet) is a privately held global telecommunications company with business operations and investments in more than 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, The United Kingdom, Europe, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and New Zealand. The only listed entity is its Zimbabwean subsidiary. The Zimbabwean business is often mistaken as the holding company, because it is listed.

Masyiwa also has interests in the United States of America (USA). He has partnered with one of America’s leading telecoms entrepreneurs, John Stanton, in a venture called Trilogy International Partners, which built New Zealand's third mobile network operator known as “2 Degrees”. Masiyiwa's investment in Seattle based Trilogy International, have also helped him secure interests as an investor in Viva’s Bolivia and Dominican Republic businesses. Masiyiwa also has a controlling interest in a company based in Vermont USA, that manufacturers nano fibre carbon products, called Seldon Technologies.

One of Masiyiwa’s most successful ventures is the London based privately held Liquid Telecom Group, Africa's largest satellite and fibre optic business spanning over 14 countries.[32]

Other activities of Econet include enterprise networks, financial services, renewable energy, and solar powered solutions (Solarway Industries).

Philanthropy and Humanitarian Initiatives[edit]

Masiyiwa is generally recognized as one of the most prolific philanthropists, to ever come out of Africa.[33] He has used his own family fortune to build one of the largest support programs for educating orphans in Africa. At any given time his family foundations support and educate more than 40,000 children.[34] [35] Masiyiwa is also a member of the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, initiative known as the Giving Pledge.[36]

Masiyiwa is also involved in supporting a diverse range of health issues including campaigns against HIV/AIDS, Cervical Cancer, malnutrition, and more recently EBOLA. He is an avid environmentalist and together with Sir Richard Branson founded the environmental group, the Carbon War Room.[37]

He recently took over from former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the chairmanship of AGRA, an organization that supports Africa's smallholder farmers. [38] He is also co-Chair of Grow Africa, the investment forum for Africa's agriculture, which has helped mobilize over US$15 billion in investments for African agriculture.[39]

Personal Fortune[edit]

There are no reliable estimates of Masiyiwa's wealth; this is because the vast majority of his business investments are held in private businesses. The only publicly known information is that of his listed business in Zimbabwe, the country he left 15 years ago. Based on this, Forbes Magazine estimates put Masiyiwa's personal wealth at US$ 600 million.[40]

Ventures Africa recently estimated Masiyiwa to be worth over US$ 1.4 billion.[41] [42] Other publications have put this figure closer to US$ 2 billion.

Honours and Awards[edit]

1990 – Zimbabwean Businessman of the Year Award (Youngest ever recipient of the award).

1998 – Zimbabwean Manager and Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

1999 – Junior Chamber International (JCI) – Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World

2002 – Times Global Business Influentials List.[43]

2003 – CNN/Time Magazine Poll – 15 Global Influentials of the Year.[44]

2010 – Builder of the Modern Africa Award.

2011 – Forbes Magazine – 20 Most Powerful Business People in African Business.[45]

2011 – Times of London – 25 Leaders of Africa’s Renaissance Award.[46]

2012 – Invited by President Barak Obama to attend G-8 Summit at Camp David (G-8 Summit, Camp David)[47]

2014 – Fortune Magazine – 50 most influential leaders in the world [48]


  1. ^ "The Philanthropy Of Africa's 40 Richest". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Millionaire's Wife Who Feeds 40,000 Children". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Zimbabwe's Richest Couple Feed And Educate 40,000 Orphans and Vulnerale Children". Blacklikemoi. Africa. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Fortune ranks the World's 50 Greatest Leaders". Fortune. New York. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  6. ^ "Council on Foreign Relations Global Board of Advisors". 
  7. ^ "APP Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  8. ^ "AGRA Board of Directors". 
  9. ^ "Micronutrient Initiative Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  10. ^ "Africa Against Ebola Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  11. ^ "Morehouse College Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  12. ^ "Sustainable Energy for All Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa". 
  13. ^ "Holocaust Memorial Museum Board of Directors". 
  14. ^ "Masiyiwa to address G8 leaders". New Zimbabwe. Africa. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  15. ^ "Fortune ranks the World's 50 Greatest Leaders". Fortune. New York. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Part 5. #AfricaUnitedAgainstEbola". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. London. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "African Answers Ebola". Aljazeera. London. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "Billionaires Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa, Patrice Motsepe Join Fight Against Ebola". Forbes. Newyork. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "African Private Sector Takes Responsibility". Aljazeera. London. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Struggling for the Impossible". Good Governance Africa. 
  21. ^ "Lesson from the early days". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Struggling for the Impossible". Good Governance Africa. 
  23. ^ "Victory in Court". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. 
  24. ^ "Struggling for the Impossible". Good Governance Africa. 
  25. ^ "Out of Zimbabwe, a telecoms boss means serious business in Africa". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  26. ^ "Strive Masiyiwa: Founder of Econet Wireless". Time Magazine. 
  27. ^ "How We Raised Money". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. 
  28. ^ "Econet ZIA Life Time Award". Tech Zim. 
  29. ^ "Zimbabwe GDP may be understated". Tech Zim. 
  30. ^ "Econet Wireless Cashless Society". The Guardian. 
  31. ^ "Econet Companies". Econet Group Website. 
  32. ^ "Many Rivers to Cross". The Economist. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  33. ^ "The Philanthropy Of Africa's 40 Richest". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "The Millionaire's Wife Who Feeds 40,000 Children". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "Zimbabwe's Richest Couple Feed And Educate 40,000 Orphans and Vulnerale Children". Blacklikemoi. Africa. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "The Giving Pledge". 
  37. ^ "Carbon War Room Founders". 
  38. ^ "Kofi Annan Steps Down as Chair of AGRA". Kofi Annan Foundation. Africa. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  39. ^ "Grow Africa 2014 Annual Report". Grow Africa. 
  40. ^ "Forbes Networth". 
  41. ^ "Richest People in Africa". Ventures Africa. Africa. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  42. ^ "Richest People in Africa". Ventures Africa. Africa. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  43. ^ "Strive Masiyiwa". 
  44. ^ "Strive Masiyiwa". 
  45. ^ "20 Most Powerful Business People in African Business". Forbes Africa. 
  46. ^ "25 Leaders of Africa’s Renaissance Award". Fortune. London. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  47. ^ "Masiyiwa to address G8 leaders". New Zimbabwe. Africa. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  48. ^ "Fortune ranks the World's 50 Greatest Leaders". Fortune. New York. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 

External links[edit]