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Strive Masiyiwa: Zimbabwe’s first billionaire

Strive Masiyiwa’s name illustrates his uncanny drive for success. As the founder of Econet and the publisher of The Daily News, Strive is, in no small terms, a telecoms giant. This is the story of Zimbabwe’s first billionaire.
Strive Masiyiwa
Author :
Keith van der Linde
Strive was born in 1961 in Zimbabwe.  At the tender age of 7, his family left Zimbabwe to settle in the small town of Kitwe in Zambia.  His mother was his first teacher in the area of entrepreneurship as she started a series of businesses while his father worked  at one of the nearby mines.  Later, his father joined the family business and his parents were able to accumulate enough money to send Strive to be educated in the United Kingdom, where he studied electrical engineering at the University of Wales. He worked in the computer industry in England shortly after graduation.  But Africa, and the entrepreneurship spirit, called out to him.

Strive founded cellphone company Econet in 1993, but it wasn’t until 1998 that the cellular provider went online and quickly became Zimbabwe’s cellular service of choice.  Masiyiwa endured many challenges as he pursued his business interests and spent many years in legal dispute with the Zimbabwean government.  Only after five years of litigation was he finally able to trade in the monopoly-controlled telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe.  Within a few years, Econet had bought Mascom, Botswana's cellular giant, and acquired its 80 percent market share.  With that purchase, the company then expanded its services to Kenya and Burundi, and was operating in the United Kingdom as Econet Satellite Services.

Taking his business acumen from his mom, Masiyiwa’s business interests expanded beyond Econet.  Until 2003, Strive was the publisher of The Daily News, the only independent newspaper left in Zimbabwe.  He’s business portfolio includes financial services, renewable energy supply, beverage bottling, hospitality and insurance, not to mention Econet Wireless, which provides telecommunication services in 15 countries around the world, including the United States, Europe and Asia.

While the business magnate has a net worth of some US $1.4 billion, he still makes time to give back to the community.  He sits on the co-ordinating committee of the Social Dimensions Fund, an organisation that is concerned with reducing poverty in Zimbabwe and giving its people a chance for a better future.  He is also a trustee of the Capernaum Trust, which provides funding and welfare for over 26 000 children.

A businessman and philanthropist, Africa and it’s children can be thankful for people like Strive, who lead, inspire and care all at the same time.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strive_Masiyiwa; www.forbes.com/lists/2011/89/africa-billionaires-11_Strive-Masiyiwa_8UZW.html
Picture courtesy: www.forbes.com
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