I began by drawing up a list of all the banks in the country, and all the financial institutions that provided any kind of financing for small businesses. I began to research every single one; I wanted to know everything about them:
* How much money did they have?
* How do they make money, as a business?
* Who managed them?
* What was their lending practice?
* Which one is considered accessible, and why?
It was a research project that I developed at a time when there was no Internet, and very little public information. I was painstaking and thorough, and it took me months. I did not rely on hearsay because I am always professional about what I do, I always check out facts.
I completely changed my circle of friends; hanging out with other young business people, and always asking about how they raised money. If I heard there was a business meeting, I always tried to get in, and I was always taking notes. I spent hours every night at the local university library. I had become a student again! Oh how I wish there had been the Internet in those days!
I bought books and read articles about financing of small businesses. I soon had a whole bookshelf on the subject. I bought books on how to prepare business plans, and how to make presentations. I had to wait for months for some of these books to arrive. This is how I approach most things: I do my research.
I had determined in my heart that if only $1 was going to be made available from the whole banking system, it would have to be to mine! There would be no “hit and miss”.
…. In the next post, I will tell you, my next step: how I got the first loan.
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa