Strive Masiyiwa

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Strive Masiyiwa
StriveMasiyiwaYouthTownHall.jpg
Masiyiwa at Youth Town Hall in Kigali, Rwanda with President Paul Kagame
Born (1961-01-29) 29 January 1961 (age 61)
Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
NationalityZimbabwean
Alma materUniversity of Wales
OccupationBusinessman
TitleFounder and executive chairman, Econet Global
Board member ofUnilever
National Geographic Society
Bank of America Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Ashinaga (organization) Netflix
Spouse(s)Tsitsi Masiyiwa
Children6

Strive Masiyiwa (born 29 January 1961) is a London-based Zimbabwean billionaire businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of the international technology group Econet Global.

Masiyiwa has provided scholarships to more than 250,000 young Africans over the past 20 years through his family foundation.[1][2] He supports more than 40,000 orphans with educational initiatives and sponsors students at universities in America, the United Kingdom, and China.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Strive Masiyiwa was born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), on 29 January 1961. When he was seven, his family left the country after Prime Minister Ian Smith's government declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom.[5] The family settled in Kitwe, a city in north central Zambia known for its copper mines. It was here that he attended primary school, before completing his secondary education in Scotland. Masiyiwa's mother was an entrepreneur. By the time Masiyiwa was 12 years old, his parents could afford to provide him with a European education.

They sent him to private school in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he graduated in 1978, he travelled back to Rhodesia, intending to join Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo's anti-government guerrilla forces.[5] However, he returned to school in Britain, and earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wales in 1983. He worked briefly in the computer industry in Cambridge, England, but returned to Zimbabwe in 1984, hoping to aid the country's recovery following the end of the Rhodesian Bush War and universal franchise elections in 1980.[citation needed]

Global influence[edit]

Masiyiwa's international appointments and board memberships over the years include: Unilever (board member), Netflix (board member), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (trustee),[6] the National Geographic Society (trustee), Bank of America (Global Advisory Counsil), Prince of Wales Trust for Africa (trustee), UN Commission on Adaptation (Commissioner), Generation Africa (co-founder), Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development (co-chair), The Rockefeller Foundation (former board member),[7] US Council on Foreign Relations (Global Advisory Board),[8] the Asia Society (former board member), Stanford University (Global Advisory Board), the Africa Progress Panel,[9] Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Chair, now Chair Emeritus),[10] The Micronutrient Initiative of Canada (former board member),[11] Grow Africa, the African Union's Ebola Fund (co-founder),[12] Morehouse College,[13] the African Academy of Sciences (Honorary Fellow) and the Pan African Strategic Institute.

Masiyiwa is the only African member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience.[14] Masiyiwa also served on two UN Advisory Panels.[15]

Leadership and international accolades[edit]

In 2011, The Times of London named him one of the 25 Leaders of Africa's Renaissance Award.[16]

In 2014, Fortune Magazine named Masiyiwa one of the 50 most influential business leaders in the world,[17] and he was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine.[18][19]

In September 2014, the Chair of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, asked Masiyiwa to help mobilise 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.[20][21] Masiyiwa, with the help of other leaders, set up the first ever Pan-African fund-raising campaign known as #AfricaAgainstEbola Solidarity Fund.[22]

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.[23]

In 2015, Forbes Magazine named Masiyiwa in the 10 Most Powerful Men in Africa list for 2015,[24] and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) awarded Masiyiwa the Freedom Award.[25][26] The award is given annually to an individual who makes an extraordinary contribution towards supporting refugees and championing the causes of liberty, individual freedom, and dignity.[27]

In 2019, he was awarded the Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Medallion[28][better source needed] and named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine.[29] In 2020, he was named a JA Worldwide Global Business Hall of Fame Laureate.[30][better source needed]

In December 2020 Masiyiwa was named by Bloomberg as one of the 50 world's most influential people.[31] He was also included in the list as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020 by the New African Magazine,[32] and in Mail & Guardian's 100 Africans of the year for 2020.[33] In May 2021, Masiyiwa was named by Fortune Magazine on the list of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders.[34]

Business career and interests[edit]

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.[35] He built a large electrical engineering business.[36] 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.[35]

Masiyiwa appealed to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, on the basis that the refusal constituted a violation of "freedom of expression". The Zimbabwean court, ruled in his favour after a five-year legal battle, which took him to the brink of bankruptcy.[35][37] 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.[5] The company's first cellphone subscriber was connected to the new network in 1998.[38]

Masiyiwa listed Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in July 1998 on the local stock exchange as a gesture of thanks to reward the thousands of ordinary people who supported him during his long legal battles against the Zimbabwean government.[39] Today, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has gone on to become a major business that dominates the Zimbabwe economy.[40] It is currently the second-largest company in Zimbabwe by market capitalisation.[41]

In March 2000, fleeing persecution from the local authorities, Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe, never to return to the country, and moved first to South Africa, where he founded The Econet Wireless Group, a new and completely separate organisation to the listed Zimbabwean entity.[citation needed]

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). 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.[42][43]

After more than ten years in South Africa, Masiyiwa moved to London. He still retains significant business interests in southern Africa.[citation needed]

Econet Global[edit]

Econet Global (Econet) is a privately held international technology group 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. Two listed entities are its Zimbabwean subsidiary, Econet Wireless (1998) and Cassava Fintech (2018). The Zimbabwean business is often mistaken as the holding company, because it is listed.[citation needed]

Masiyiwa owns over 50% of publicly traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.[44]

Masiyiwa 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".[citation needed]

One of Masiyiwa's most successful ventures is the London-based privately held Liquid Telecom Group (now Liquid Intelligent Technologies) Africa's largest satellite and fibre optic business spanning over 14 countries.[45]

Other activities of Econet include enterprise networks, fintech and financial services, and renewable energy.[citation needed]

Philanthropy and humanitarian initiatives[edit]

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.[3][4] Masiyiwa is also a member of the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett initiative known as the Giving Pledge.[46]

Masiyiwa is also involved in supporting a diverse range of health issues including campaigns against HIV/AIDS, Cervical Cancer, malnutrition, EBOLA, and more recently, COVID-19. He is an avid environmentalist and together with Sir Richard Branson founded the environmental group, the Carbon War Room.[47]

He [48] took over from former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the chairmanship of AGRA, an organisation that supports Africa's smallholder farmers.[48] In 2019 he stepped down from AGRA and now serves as Chairman Emeritus. In 2013, he was appointed co-chair of Grow Africa, the investment forum for Africa's agriculture, which has helped mobilise over US$15 billion in investments for African agriculture.[49]

Upon the cholera outbreak which happened in Zimbabwe in 2019, Strive Masiyiwa together with his wife donated a total of US$10m to fight against the disease. Moreover, he pledged US$60m to be used to build resilience against the disease.[50]

In May 2020, he was appointed by South African President and African Union Chair Cyril Ramaphosa to serve as a Special Envoy to the African Union for COVID response.[51]

Together with his wife, they pledged $100m to establish a fund to invest in rural entrepreneurs in his home country.[52] The two also started a non-profit organisation, Higherlife Foundation, which empowers disadvantaged children through education and creating opportunities for highly talented young people. Through one of the largest scholarship programmes in Africa, the Foundation pays the school fees for 30,000 students annually in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi who they call their "history makers"[52]

In January 2020 he paid for Zimbabwe's doctors to return to work after they struck to get paid.[53] Masiyiwa will pay each doctor a subsistence allowance of about $300 (£230) and provide them with transport to work, through a fund he set up. Most of the doctors on strike were earning less than $100 a month.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Tsitsi, they have six children, and live in London, England.[54] Masiyiwa owns two adjacent apartments atop the 29-storey Eldorado Tower at 300 Central Park in New York City, bought for US$24.5 million in 2016.[55]

In 7 July 2022, Masiyiwa became the first black billionaire to enter the Sunday Times Rich List with a net worth of £1.6 billion.[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nsehe, Mfonobong (13 June 2018). "Zimbabwean Billionaire Strive Masiyiwa And Wife Receive British Award For Philanthropy". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  2. ^ "African business leaders find new ways to give back". FT. London. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Nsehe, Mfonobong. "The Millionaire's Wife Who Feeds 40,000 Children". Forbes. Africa. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b Rukaya, Abudu (10 October 2013). "Zimbabwe's Richest Couple Feed and Educate 40,000 Orphans and Vulnerable Children". Blacklikemoi. Africa. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Out of Zimbabwe, a telecoms boss means serious business in Africa". The Guardian. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  6. ^ Kulish, Nicholas (26 January 2022). "Three New Faces to Help Steer the Gates Foundation". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  8. ^ "Council on Foreign Relations Global Board of Advisors".
  9. ^ "APP Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  10. ^ "AGRA Board of Directors".
  11. ^ "Micronutrient Initiative Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  12. ^ "Africa Against Ebola Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  13. ^ "Morehouse College Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  14. ^ "Holocaust Memorial Museum Board of Directors".
  15. ^ "Sustainable Energy for All Board of Trustees-Strive-Masiyiwa".
  16. ^ "25 Leaders of Africa's Renaissance Award". Fortune. London. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  17. ^ "Fortune ranks the World's 50 Greatest Leaders". Fortune. Archived from the original on 4 August 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  18. ^ Amlambo (5 December 2014). "Trevor Ncube among most influential persons in Africa". NewsDay Zimbabwe. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  19. ^ Afolabi, Dare (8 December 2020). "Masiyiwa, Musk Included In New African Magazine's 100 Most Influential Africans 2020". Techbuild.Africa. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Part 5. #AfricaUnitedAgainstEbola". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. London. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  21. ^ Juma, Calestous (12 November 2014). "African Answers to Ebola". London: Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  22. ^ Gundan, Farai (10 November 2014). "Billionaires Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa, Patrice Motsepe Join Fight Against Ebola". Forbes. New York. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  23. ^ Juma, Calestous (21 November 2014). "Private sector can help Africa to take responsibility for its development". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  24. ^ "10 Most Powerful Men in Africa list for 2015". Forbes. 20 March 2015. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  25. ^ "2015 Freedom Award Dinner". IRC. New York. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  26. ^ "IRC Freedom Award Dinner 2014". IRC Storify. New York. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  27. ^ "IRC Freedom Award Dinner". IRC. New York. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  28. ^ "The Accra Communiqué Decisions and Commitments from the African Green Revolution Forum 2019" (PDF). AGRF. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  29. ^ Culliford, Alison; Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Nicholas Norbrook, Oheneba Ama Nti Osei and Marshall Van Valen (21 June 2019). "The 100 most influential Africans 11-20". The Africa Report. Retrieved 21 June 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ "JA Worldwide Inducts Four Laureates into the Global Business Hall of Fame 2020". PR Newswire. 12 August 2020.
  31. ^ Marawanyika, Godfrey (3 December 2020). "Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe's Messenger of Hope". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  32. ^ Versi, Anver (11 December 2020). "The 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020". New African.
  33. ^ "The Continent" (PDF). Mail & Guardian. 19 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Strive Masiyiwa".
  35. ^ a b c "Struggling for the Impossible". Good Governance Africa.
  36. ^ "Lesson from the early days". Strive Masiyiwa Blog. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  37. ^ "Victory in Court". Strive Masiyiwa Blog.
  38. ^ Robinson, Simon (2 December 2002). "Strive Masiyiwa: Founder of Econet Wireless". Time.
  39. ^ "How We Raised Money". Strive Masiyiwa Blog.
  40. ^ "Econet ZIA Life Time Award". Tech Zim. 28 November 2013.
  41. ^ "Zimbabwe GDP may be understated". Tech Zim.
  42. ^ Leach, Anna (18 August 2014). "Zimbabwe's Econet Wireless and the making of Africa's first cashless society". The Guardian.
  43. ^ "Econet Companies". Econet Group Website.
  44. ^ "Strive Masiyiwa". Forbes. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  45. ^ "Many Rivers to Cross". The Economist. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  46. ^ "Home - The Giving Pledge". Giving Pledge.
  47. ^ "Carbon War Room Founders". Archived from the original on 7 May 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  48. ^ a b "Kofi Annan Steps Down as Chair of AGRA". Africa: Kofi Annan Foundation. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  49. ^ "AGRA in 2013" (PDF). AGRA. 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  50. ^ "Press Release: Tsitsi And Strive Masiyiwa Donate A Further $60 Million To Eradicate Cholera". TZ. 10 February 2019.
  51. ^ Ncube, Japhet. "Masiyiwa's arduous journey to procure Covid-19 vaccines for Africa". www.iol.co.za.
  52. ^ a b Nsehe, Mfonobong (8 February 2019). "Zimbabwe's Richest Man Strive Masiyiwa Establishes $100 Million Fund To Support Rural Entrepreneurs". Forbes.
  53. ^ "Africa Live: Naomi Campbell hits runway at Nigerian designer debut". BBC News.
  54. ^ "Forbes profile: Strive Masiyiwa". Forbes. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  55. ^ Ojekunle, Aderemi (1 April 2019). "A peek into the life and business empire of Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe's first billionaire". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  56. ^ Watts, Robert. "Strive Masiyiwa: the first black billionaire to make the Rich List. This is his story". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 August 2021.

External links[edit]