At the recently ended Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Kenya, I was interviewed by the BBC Focus on Africa’s, Kim Chakanetsa, who started of by asking why I was such an avid champion of entrepreneurship:
BBC: Why are you such an avid champion of entrepreneurship?
Strive Masiyiwa: This continent has to deliver millions of new jobs a year, and we are delivering a fraction of that. The only vehicle that I know through which we can create jobs is through an explosion of entrepreneurship on this continent, supported by the right policies.
We have got young people – entrepreneurs on this continent – who are skilled, who are bristling with ideas and full of energy. What they need is our collective support. They need the support of their governments in policy-making driven towards entrepreneurship. We all need to support the nurturing and acceleration of businesses.
BBC: For all listeners, could you think of a single challenge that you faced and how you overcame it?
Strive Masiyiwa: Look, business is about facing challenges. I have faced challenges all over the world. I have faced challenges with currencies. I have faced challenges with inflation.
BBC: What about when you were starting out though?
Strive Masiyiwa: It’s no different. Every entrepreneur knows they have to get past challenges. So I can’t over emphasize those challenges because they were my teachers. That’s where I was trained in tenacity – from those challenges. That’s where I was trained in fortitude. That’s where I was trained in patience. So challenges are good.
BBC: Integrity also seems to be something that you really feel strongly about. Just explain to us why that is such a key factor in how you do business?
Strive Masiyiwa: One of the greatest obstacles to the growth of any economy is corruption. There is a study I was reading, just a few days ago, that said the greatest obstacle to women accessing resources in an economy – as entrepreneurs – is corruption. We need to deal with that, and that is why for all my business career I have always spoken out against corruption.
I have seen corruption all over the world. Corruption has no colour. Corruption has no boundary.
I have found corruption all over the world and, wherever I have found it, I have spoken out against it.
I always say to my business colleagues that you are not committed [to end corruption] until you speak out against it. In today’s world of Twitter, Facebook and social media, if you are a leader – whether in politics or business – let’s hear you say “NO to corruption”.
To listen to the interview, please visit BBC sound cloud page:
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including 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, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa