By Tongai Mwenje
The founder of Econet Wireless in no small terms, a telecoms giant has represented Zimbabwe in Africa
s billionares list.
Most Zimbabweans have always wondered how much the Econet boss is worth. Considering Zimbabwe’s last budget was $ 4 Billion, having personal wealth of $1.4 Billion is pretty impressive.
According to Forbes, Masiyiwa has made it to the 55 billionaires` list by Africans though not in the top 40.
Strive was born in 1961 and reaped the rewards during the late ’90s and early 2000s when the cellular phone market shot into space. His mother was an entrepreneur in her own right and saved enough money to send Strive to be educated in the United Kingdom, where he studied electrical engineering at the University of Wales. He returned and worked for newly independent Zimbabwe’s state telecom company before starting Econet.
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. The Zimbabwean government had been strictly opposed to anything that Strive was involved in because of his long history of legal battles with them – it took him five years of fighting in court to get rid of the monopoly-controlled telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe.
Within a few years, Econet had bought Mascom, a cellular giant in Botswana that enjoys nearly 80 percent of the market share. His telecommunications group also operates in Kenya and Burundi, and is the only African-based company with a telecom license in the UK (Econet Satellite Services). It has won a 3G license in New Zealand and will roll out a network there once the market is fully liberalized
Econet wasn’t Mr Masiyiwa’s only business concern, though. Until 2003, Strive was the publisher of The Daily News, the then only independent newspaper 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 hasn’t forgotten about the small people that matter. 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 a heart don’t always go together, but Africa and its children can be thankful for people like Strive, who lead, inspire and care all at the same time. He is an inspirational, God fearing and a person with people at heart. African business people in general and Zimbabwe in particular should emulate this business character for a better future.
By Tongai Mwenje