Strive Masiyiwa was born in Zimbabwe in 1961. His family relocated to Zambia, where he did his primary school and he completed his secondary school in Scotland. Strive then attended the University of Wales and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.
He returned to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, and joined the Postal and Telecommunications Authority as a telecoms engineer. Strive Masiyiwa later quit his job to focus on his first company, Retrofit Engineering which he started in 1987. This was a construction company which specialised in electrical installation work and did a lot of projects for the Government of Zimbabwe. Due to the bad relations which were between him and Government officials which were opposed to his move to start a mobile network company, he was forced to sell Retrofit Engineering in 1996. This was because the government was the biggest client of Retrofit Engineering. He had this to say about the incident:
“Meanwhile my detractors turned their attention to forcing me out of business altogether. Their plan was to force me into bankruptcy. They knew that over 80%, of my projects were for government. I was given an ultimatum: “drop your interest in telecoms or we will shut down all your other businesses!”
I was facing bankruptcy. It also meant the loss of jobs of over 1000 people.
I had to act quickly:
I decided to sell all my businesses that relied on any type of government contracts. I sold my businesses within 2 weeks. This meant I was not paid the proper value of the businesses; I agreed to basically walk away, with almost nothing… It was more important to save the businesses, and the jobs, but it meant that 10 years of my work was all gone.
… I was not bitter.”
He rose into prominence when he challenged the government refusal to grant him a mobile telecoms licence. Strive Masiyiwa fought a five-year battle with the government which eventually granted him the license in 1998 resulting in the listing of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. This was after he had approached the constitutional court challenging the government decision.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ) is Zimbabwe’s largest provider of telecommunications services, providing solutions in mobile and fixed wireless telephony, internet access and mobile payment and banking solutions through Ecocash. The company started operating in 1998. Notable companies under EWZ include Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which is set to be listed separately on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in December 2018. Cassava Smartech consists of Steward Bank, a registered commercial bank, and Ecocash, the largest mobile money company in Zimbabwe. As of February 2018, Strive Masiyiwa owned 42% of EWZ through his company, Econet Global.
Econet Group is the name of his global company which is the parent company of almost all his business interests. Econet is a privately held diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, internet, satellite and fibre optic networks. Econet subsidiaries include Econet Global, Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Enterprises, Econet Media and the Liquid Telecom Group.
Liquid Telecom Group
Liquid Telecom is the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa. It supplies fibre optic, satellite and international carrier services to Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs and businesses of all sizes. It also provides payment solutions to financial institutions and retailers, as well as data storage and communication solutions to businesses across Africa and beyond. Liquid Telecom has so far built a fibre optic network that spans 15 African countries from South Africa, all the way to the border of South Sudan in East Africa, and now wants to move into West Africa.
Econet Media Limited, doing business as Kwesé, has 3 major products: Kwese Free Sports (a 24 hour, free-to-air all-sport channel in more than 20 African countries) , Kwese Iflix (mobile video-on-demand sports and entertainment platform focused on Africa) and Kwese Play (video streaming service with more than 200 sports, entertainment, kids and news channels). It recently closed/streamlined its Kwese Satelite Services.
Distributed Power Africa
Distributed Power Africa is an African renewable energy solutions company that seeks to ensure that businesses have access to affordable and efficient green energy at zero start up cost. Mostly into Solar Solutions at industrial and residential level.
Cassava Smartech International
Cassava Smartech is a diversified smartech group. It has established a balanced portfolio of distinct, yet highly synergistic business pillars, namely FinTech, InsurTech, Social Payments, On-Demand Services, e-Commerce, AgriTech, HealthTech and EduTech.
Cumii is technology company that provides disruptive products and services which include Internet of things, On Demand “Uber-like” businesses and drones.
Solar Way produces solar powered products.
From the beginning, Strive Masiyiwa had set his mind on building a global business. Before he was give a telecom license in Zimbabwe, he had already acquired a telecom license in Botswana together with some financial partners. Mascom Wireless was named after him, with the word Mascom derived from Masiyiwa Communications. Econet is now a minority shareholder in Mascom Wireless, a Botswana telecommunication company.
Econet Leo is a telecommunications provider that operates in Burundi.
Econet Telecom Lesotho
Econet Telecom Lesotho is a telecommunication company that operates in Lesotho. It came into being following the merger between Telecom Lesotho and Econet Ezi ~ Cel Lesotho in April 2008. When Eskom Enterprises (Pty) Limited sold its shares to Econet Wireless Global, Econet became a majority shareholder with 70% shareholding while the Government of Lesotho remained with 30%.
Trilogy International Partners
Trilogy International Partners was established in 2005 by Strive Masiyiwa, John W. Stanton, Bradley Horwitz and others. It has got two subsidiaries, 2 Degrees and NuevaTel
2degrees is a telecommunications provider that operates in New Zealand. The majority shareholder of 2 Degrees is Trilogy International Partners.
NuevaTel is a telecommunications provider that operates in Bolivia. The majority shareholder of NuevaTel is Trilogy International Partners.
Strive Masiyiwa is a respected businessman who serves in various international boards such as Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, AGRA, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation’s Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council among many others. He is also one of the founders of the Carbon War Room and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education.
He is also involved in many philanthropy activities in education, health and development. Mr. Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa finance the Higher Life Foundation, which has provided education scholarships to over 100,000 African orphans through the Joshua Nkomo scholarship and Capernaum Trust. Capernaum Trust operates in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Strive Masiyiwa also gave financial help during many national disasters like the Africa Ebola Epidemic and Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak. Strive Masiyiwa is also a member of the Giving Pledge, a campaign which encourage wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
Strive Masiyiwa net worth is estimated to be $3.1 billion by Forbes as of November 2018. He is the richest Zimbabwean of all time.
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