The richest Zimbabwean, according to Forbes, is Strive Masiyiwa. He has a huge business empire with over 50 per cent shareholding in Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. He also owns over 50 per cent of Liquid Telecom. He also owns part of several mobile network operators in countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, and Burundi. He is also into financial technology and power distribution. His current net worth is US$1.5 billion. His accolades are so many that it would take more than an article to detail them all. However, in this article, I shall be sharing with you some of the vital lessons inspired or taught by Strive Masiyiwa.

The Importance Of Sharing Knowledge

The African context, particularly the Zimbabwean one, is riddled with such a limiting belief. This is the belief that you must not share your secrets to success or the knowledge that you have. Strive Masiyiwa once recounted an incident where an uncle of his discouraged him from sharing his knowledge and success secrets. The uncle was even saying that it would get people jealous or get him killed. This is a mindset that many Zimbabweans have; it is so rooted because many of us were raised being told that by our parents or guardians. Of course, there are things you must ruthlessly guard e.g. intellectual property (IP) rights.

However, for the most part, sharing knowledge is extremely important in business. Strive Masiyiwa is a case in point because his Facebook page is rich with invaluable information. The knowledge he shares is so rich that he could have been making millions right now from writing books, selling courses, master classes, and what nought. Yet he has committed to share the knowledge for free and continues to grow in success.

It Is Never Too Late To Pursue Academic And Specialized Training Programs

The issue of academics and entrepreneurship is a heavily debated one. On one camp some believe that academic qualifications do not matter in entrepreneurship. This is mostly premised on the fact that most successful entrepreneurs are college or high school dropouts. On the other camp there those who maintain that academics are indispensably important. There are of course solid arguments for either side but I will not delve much into that here. A key lesson we learn from Mr Masiyiwa is that there is never a time you should rule out pursuing academics. In his own words, he once said, “…I left Zimbabwe on 22 March 2000. At the time I told my staff: We are going to build a global business. I do not know how long it will take…” He went on to say, “I told them then if they wanted to be part of it, I wanted them to go back to school and skill up…

Two things I want to emphasise here; firstly, hiring skilled staff is central to success in entrepreneurship. This is quite evident from Strive Masiyiwa’s emphasis that they had to skill up. Secondly, it is not only just academic programs per se that one can pursue. I think most people are still blinded by this reality. No wonder Mr Masiyiwa had to also include “specialized training” in the mix. Specialized training comes in many different forms e.g. listening to podcasts, signing up for masterclasses, attending boot camps, workshops, seminars (or webinars), and so on. The key issue is realizing that we are living in a rapidly changing and fast-paced world. Thus the need to skill up is ever-present and must be addressed.

Pitching Is Not Just For Raising Capital Only

Strive Masiyiwa usually underscores the importance of pitching. I have also done several articles on pitching – it is an inevitable aspect of entrepreneurship. I love the story he once shared from when he was still running Retrofit, a business he once had several years ago. He mentioned that he used to struggle in accessing capital. He would usually get loans from banks but his margins would be eaten away by interest rates and bank charges. He then hatched up an ingenious plan where he was going to negotiate with his key supplier. “Supply me on extended terms, and we both win” – that was his proposal to the supplier.

The supplier obviously had to do due diligence first. This meant they had to assess the business’ product, processes, and people – no wonder we always tell you it is important to understand the 3 Ps of entrepreneurship. Long story short, it became a win-win situation and the supplier even proposed some ways to streamline the business. The key lesson from this is that pitching can also be effectively used for negotiating with suppliers. He also summarizes the key components of a good pitch as follows, problem (and proposed solution), value proposition, business model, competitive analysis, your team, and the catch (what the other party stands to benefit).

Go Just Beyond Buying And Selling

This one of the most insightful things I have ever drawn from Strive Masiyiwa. The truth is most, if not all entrepreneurs start by buying and selling something or some things. That is definitely a good place to start but Mr Masiyiwa emphasises that it must not be your destination. The challenge with most entrepreneurs is that once they score big from buying and selling they feel they have arrived. They will start living over-indulgent lives where they spend money on luxuries and what nought. He says that the secret to becoming a billionaire is moving past just buying and selling. He cited examples of Nike and the Dangote Group. These are powerhouses that initially started by buying and selling other people’s products. What brought them to where they are now is that they moved to be the ones who do the actual production.

These are some of the many lessons we can learn from the richest man in Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa. I would urge you to be sober-minded and assimilate these lessons because they can definitely work for you.