Lately there have been two major developments pertaining to Strive Masiyiwa. One, he recently ‘shutdown’ or left his Facebook page. This was a development he had hinted on some months prior. The move led many people to speculate on what his reasons were. Regardless, I did an article where I comprehensively clarified on what his real reasons were; be sure to check it out. Two, he also retired from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited Board. This again has led to some people speculating in trying to make sense of the decision. Once more I am penning down an article to clarify on that retirement. That is what we are discussing today – the real reasons why Strive Masiyiwa stepped down from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited Board.
The Official Board Retirement Announcement
“The Board of Directors of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited would like to announce that Mr Strive Masiyiwa has retired from the Board with immediate effect from 1 February 2022.
Mr Masiyiwa is the founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited and the Econet Group and has been on the Board of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited since inception of the Company in 1993 and its subsequent listing in 1998.
It is through his leadership, dedication and perseverance that the Company has grown to become one of Zimbabwe’s largest and most successful businesses.
The Board and management take this opportunity to express their appreciation to Mr Masiyiwa for his entrepreneurial leadership and his unwavering commitment to the company and for his philanthropy that has changed the lives of so many in Zimbabwe and across Africa.”
Strive Masiyiwa Details How Companies Are Run
Through some of his posts and comments, Strive Masiyiwa explained some instructive truths. These are truths which when you consider, you will get to understand there is nothing speculative about him retiring from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited Board. Here are some of his remarks:
“Big companies are not run like small businesses or ‘one owner businesses’! A large global company like Coca Cola has operations in almost every country in the world. It does not mean that the Chairman of Coca Cola in America sits on the board of each company from Albania to Zimbabwe!
Similarly at Econet, we have dozens and dozens of companies in so many countries. I do not sit on all their boards. It is delegated to other executives in the company. Although I remained on the board of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe all these years, it was really for sentimental reasons, as I had not attended a board meeting of the company for more than 15 years!
As a company expands globally and into many markets, it is even possible that as founder you may never get a chance to visit all the companies. People whose understanding of how businesses operate is limited to local companies often do not have this perspective.
These are the people who are now running around with all sorts of speculations that are just silly…”
Key Takeaways From Those Remarks
- Strive Masiyiwa does not sit on the boards of all his companies. In other words, he does not necessarily have to sit on all the boards of his companies. That is the role of his executives whom he can delegate to oversee operations across all his companies.
- Sure enough, he sat on the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe board all these years – from 1993. However, going backwards from the time he retired he had not attended a single board meeting for more than 15 years. In his own words he even said being on that board ‘it was really for sentimental reasons.’ Thus, he retiring from the board does not have any material effect (or basis) or strategic implications in any way near some of the speculations being made.
- A lack of understanding on how big (i.e. global) companies are run fuels speculation as has been evident from most people’s comments on his retirement from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe
Further Clarification (With Specific Focus On His Group Of Companies)
Understandably his retirement from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe board roused questions. Whilst other chose to speculate some opted to seek clarification from him. One of such individuals asked (through a comment on his post), whether or not Strive Masiyiwa would remain part of those making decisions at Econet Zimbabwe. He also asked for clarity on what his retirement really meant in terms of his retirement plan and career progression. Strive Masiyiwa’s response to that comment further clarified a number of things. Here was his response:
“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of Econet Global, just like other companies like Econet Wireless Lesotho. Liquid South Africa is bigger than Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, but I do not sit on its board. I have never done so. I have never sat on the board of EcoCash or Steward Bank. All these are subsidiaries.
I do not sit on the boards of subsidiary companies anymore. I sit on the board of the parent company, and not on the boards of subsidiaries. Senior Executives at Group level are the ones who sit on the boards, alongside Independent Directors. Think of it as a form of ‘super delegation.’
Global companies do this all the time. The Chairman of SAB Miller in the US does not sit on the board of Delta Zimbabwe or even South African Breweries. The Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank PLC in London does not sit on the board of Standard Chartered Zimbabwe.
It is part of our restructuring to create a more global company. You will see more in the weeks and months to come.”
Key Takeaways From Those Remarks
- He reiterated the fact that he does not have to sit on the boards of all his companies. In fact, he emphasised that he no longer sits on the boards of his subsidiaries. Rather he sits on the board of the parent company; in his case, Econet Global.
- He pointed out that his retirement from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe board is for restructuring purposes. He was also clear on why this restructuring is being done – for the creation of a more global company.
With all this said, you now have a clearer picture of why Strive Masiyiwa retired from the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe board. One of the key learning points here is that we must take time to understand how companies are run. The speculations that have emerged regarding our subject matter demonstrate how misleading it can be when you do not know enough about an issue.