When I was starting out in business, nearly 30 years ago, I was made to believe that the best partners, were those people in powerful positions, who had the ability to open big doors. Being a young entrepreneur, there were many powerful people, who offered themselves, to be my “sleeping partners”,or “godfathers”; to whom I could go, if I had trouble with anyone, in “the system”.
As many of you are aware, I was not born into a Christian family. I became a Christian by choice, when I was already a well established businessman. It was a deep personal decision, and this is not the platform to discuss, that issue. However, having made this decision, I threw myself with total fervor, often reading the bible, back to back, several times a year, as I tried to “come up to speed”, with my new found faith.
It was at this time, that I came to realise that I had to “play by and succeed, by a different set of rules.”
…. My partnerships had to align with my faith in, and trust in God…
I could not, and would not have “sleeping partners”, in any business that I do.
I could not, and would not choose partners, simply on the basis of their ability to wield influence, or to sponsor my activities.
Let me tell you, this set me on a collision course everywhere I went, because I was essentially shunning,an entire world system.
I was despised and mocked for it. Those who were polite called me naive, and others not so kind, said I was a fool. We “lost” many contracts, and many business opportunities. Often we had to walk away from deals that were just “mouth watering”. More often than not, we were just threatened and kicked, out, leaving others to take over what we had started. And when this happened, I just never allowed myself, to have regrets, about it.
One of my great mentors, Bishop Garlington, once said to me, ” you are standing in the river of faith. Don’t be afraid. You are not going to be swept away, and you are not going under; use your faith, to go over..”
Then he said to me:
“Focus on integrity, because one day, you will be the partner of choice for anyone wanting to do business in Africa, the right way…”
Do you want a partner?
Let me share with you a secret:
“The best partner for you, is not some big powerful politician, or someone with a lot of money, or some big international company. The best partner for you, is someone just like you, who has the passion for entrepreneurship, that you have. Who has the skills to compliment, what you do best, and is willing to work hard, very hard, alongside you.
It might be a man,or a woman; black or white…even from a different, tribe or nationality from you. What is key is to align your values, and respect each other’s space. Never mind the money, the power and the influence… Its not a factor.
To be continued…
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