Reflection: #AgripreneurIt

Reflection: #AgripreneurIt

__A time to plant and a time to plan.

There’s an old story some of you have probably heard called “The Wolf You Feed”. It goes something like this (I have adapted it a little). One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, inferiority, corruption, intolerance, ego and lies. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, vision, kindness, innovation, empathy, truth, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked: “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee replied quietly: “The one you feed.”

These are very hard times. And they will get harder for most people in the months and even years ahead, depending on decisions being made each and every day. Including your own. Which wolf will you decide to feed, each day?

You may be one of the millions around the world feeling lonely, depressed, fearful, and even worthless if your job has disappeared, or your pay has been slashed. Maybe you have no idea now how you are going to feed your family or send your kids to school.

Then there are young people like some of you, about to graduate from school. You have worked so hard for this important day set for 2020, but not only is the traditional graduation ceremony cancelled, you really have no idea what the future will bring.

__You are not alone. Be strong and of good courage. We will get through this.

Yes, times are tough. Very tough. But if you want to be the Wolf that “wins” in this old Cherokee story, you must start now to #Re-imagine a post-pandemic future. You have no choice. We need your #SolutionMindset busy now. What do YOU see?

Not long ago I told you about things that keep ME up at night, and one of them is Food Security. Sufficient food is already a continental crisis, crying out urgently for serious and innovative entrepreneurs, and in particular, #Agripreneurs. Especially now.

Remember: agrifood in Africa is still going to be a $1Tn industry in the years ahead. Whilst some businesses will definitely fail during and after this COVID-19 pandemic, all our people will always need food. They will ALWAYS need food. Good, healthy food!

__Let’s #AgripreneurIt!

Last year most of you know we launched the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize and two of you (Isaac Sesi and Bonolo Monthe) won $50k each to grow their agribusinesses.

The 2nd Annual GoGettaz competition kicked off last month and I would love to see some of you compete to win this year, to help us feed Africa’s people and the world. Don’t say I didn’t tell you about it! Here’s the link to enter:

Most likely the GoGettaz Agripreneur Grand Finale pitch competition for the top-10 (that we held in Ghana in 2019) will be held online this year. That is fine! Everything is online these days. The show must go on. You have until 18 June to apply. The award ceremony will be held in September, along with the announcement of the prestigious Africa Food Prize.

__I have heard that a few thousand entrepreneurs have already applied, but only 25% are women so far. Please tell your sisters across Africa about this competition. I know there are some amazingly successful agripreneurial Lionesses of Africa out there. Our judges will choose one male and one female winner!

Help share this opportunity with others and be sure to check out the free webinars for entrepreneurs the GoGettaz Africa team has put together. Here’s a link to the most recent one yesterday:

Whatever field you are in, now is the time to plant new seeds, and to plan, in ways you never ever have before.

We are in a new world.

See it as an entrepreneur. We will get through this.

Let’s talk.

#SolutionMindset #FeedTheGoodWolf #GrowEntrepreneurs #TransformFood #GoGettaz #AgripreneurPrize


Image caption: Social entrepreneur Lilian Nakigozi is co-founder and CEO of Uganda Women Smiles, a women- founded, women-led and women-focused social venture which teaches young women how to use vertical farming for food and livelihood in urban areas. She was one of our top finalists last year!

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

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.

34 Replies to “Reflection: #AgripreneurIt”

  1. Afterthought 2.

    I hope some of you took part in the @GoGettazAfrica webinar held yesterday (20 May). It was focused on advice to help entrepreneurs compete to win. One session on how to develop your “personal brand” and your online business presence was led by my friend Dr Eleni Gabri-Madhin from Ethiopia, one of last year’s Gogettaz judges, who won the Africa Food Prize TAG a few years ago.

    Her words of advice, will be really valuable to most of you. You can check it out here:

  2. #Breaking News:

    Sasai #TeamTalk Group #1 for this Saturday

    Congratulations! If you are on this list below, you must keep an eye on your Facebook messenger for a note from my team and answer ASAP to confirm. They will give you all the details for the call. Make sure you have downloaded the latest Sasai version!

    If you’re not on the list don’t worry, I will be holding #TeamTalks every Saturday for about a month. Be ready.

    Jerry Musungo
    David Makhovah
    Austin Uzim
    Champion Uchenna
    Precious Onome WhiteDove
    Julius Muzenda
    Tijjani Ibn Aliyu
    Newton Waniba
    Blessing Machiya
    Rachel Mwikali
    Primrose Kudangirana
    Kelly Bahati
    Rosemary Onyoibo Akwashiki
    Thembisile Mlambo Mutlanyana

    Be sure to check your message box!

    We have a second list, because more of you gave me the answers I wanted. The list will be released next week.
    Make sure that you have downloaded the latest version of the App, and practice with friends in advance, so that your connectivity works.

  3. #Update on Sasai Health Status Report [SHSR]:

    Yesterday this historic @African Innovation went live for the first time.
    We are now in what is called “Pre-Commercial”, in which 25,000 users [Econet Group staff, and Vaya Partners] are being Tested, and given access to the App.
    It will then be opened up gradually over the next two weeks across many markets.

    Well done to all the Sasai Global team who developed this Application in record time.

    Next up:
    Sasai Moments:
    This goes to the App stores tonight. Next week you will be able to upload your best “moments in Africa”— upto 3 minute video clips.

  4. Musa Ya’u writes,

    In Northern Nigeria Millions of Farmers spend their time to produce crops and livestock annually (often under difficult conditions) only for them to be forced to sell these produce at a very cheap price to the middle men, who in turn resell them to Companies or government agencies at a much higher price.
    This has been the fate of many Farmers, this is one area that needs an entrepreneural approach, to provide more opportunities for Large Agricultural produce buyers and the farmers themselves.

    My reply,
    As an entrepreneur this is the type of problem I like to solve.
    I could solve this problem, and make a lot of money, having helped everyone to also make money.
    Having seen this problem, how do you intend to #Entrepreneur-It?

  5. #Quiz:

    Remember what I have taught you:

    “Innovation and marketing make money….”

    As soon as you develop an @Innovation, and you release it to the market, even if it is not for profit, you must immediately get the marketing team activated. This is what we always do at Econet.

    Here is an example for you:

    That is how much I want you to learn from me. So don’t miss this opportunity.

    I will hold a @TeamTalk with 20 of you who make the most interesting observations based on what they see here.
    I prefer comments that are Tips to other entrepreneurs.

  6. Chris Ugoesky writes,

    Developing special agripreneurial apps to help monitor weather,climate,pests, leverage agric info,credit mechanisms,logistics, routine practices and communicability becomes highly imperative

    My reply,
    You will be amazed how many young entrepreneurs are already onto this!
    Don’t be left behind.

  7. #Pause:

    Tips in building a business:

    It’s step by step; but steps of innovation!

    When we launched Sasai App last year, it was plain vanilla; but step by Innovative Step, we keep on adding things. One of the most successful products of all time is the iPhone Smartphone:
    Do you know how many software updates, and new product versions they have done since launch?
    It is never about the original idea, but the ability to keep the flow of ideas going!
    That is how you #Entrepreneur-It!

  8. #Pause:

    I have ordered 5000 of these Oxygen Ventilators!

    A few weeks ago someone sent me this news clip:

    I immediately asked my team to investigate. This led us to our friends at Virgin Galactic [a Space agency company that makes space craft to take people into space]. These space engineers developed this design, as their own contribution to fighting C-19!
    We managed to get some samples sent to us in South Africa. We gave them to some medical specialists to try out. They loved them!

    Our own engineers studied the designs, and working with Virgin engineers found someone to help us manufacture them.
    I’m not going to make a single cent on this. I’m giving them away, including sending 1000 each to Zimbabwe, Sudan and Eritrea.

    This is just one of my initiatives. Others are coming!

    Remember what I said before:
    You must care enough to want to help, that is when God will want to use you!

    Last week I saw on
    Al Jazeera a clip about a project in Senegal. Within 2 hours I had
    traced the guy and spoken to him directly. He is now going to manufacture for the rest of Africa!

  9. #Reflection: Working together to build future prosperity in Time of #COVID-19

    When we first thought of the #GoGettaz #Agripreneur Prize a few years ago, of course there was no COVID-19 crisis. But agri-business has been a deep concern and interest of mine for a very long time. We knew that only a few organizations, like ours and Yara International, weren’t going to be able to tackle this challenge to transform food and grow entrepreneurs across a whole continent all on our own.

    That’s one reason why we launched “Generation Africa”, not just as an annual prize for entrepreneurs, but as a movement. We now have Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRAAlliance) and Corteva Agriscience as new strategic partners since late last year. The Southern Africa Confederation of Agricultural Unions SACAU, is one of our technical partners along with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

    Great partnerships will include others I will tell you about later. What other visionary people, companies and organizations do you think should be involved in this movement? Let’s talk.

    We have quite a team coming together.

  10. #Update on Sasai WiFi Finder:

    Enthusiasts of Sasai App, will know that there is a service called “Sasai WiFi Finder”, which our marketing people have been “Teasing” [a “teaser” is when marketing people hint at something to come, in advance].

    This service will only be launched when all the Version 3 product line is complete.

    How big is it?

    Wait and see!

    Meanwhile download the App and give us a 5-star rating.

  11. #Listen Eaglet, while I teach you some tricks of this game:

    There is a little known business within Econet known as Omni Contact. It employs hundreds of people:
    This is our customer call center services. It is actually a business in its own right.

    Drucker said:
    “….everything else is #Cost…”

    In my business model I don’t like “Costs”, so I fight to minimize them, or turn them into centers for Profit. A Call Center can be a business too!

    Fast Forward:
    Omni Contact is at the forefront of helping us fight Covid, by providing two crucial services:
    #1. Dial-A-Doctor:
    We have a free service for people to get medical advice. Our Covid hotline in Zimbabwe is currently handling 400 requests per day. It is manned by 10 doctors.

    #2. Telephone Contact Tracing:
    Once someone tests positive, we ask them to list anyone they have been in contact with. We are able to trace upto 50 contacts within a day. We encourage them to self isolate, and offer them a Free test every two weeks.

    #See, little Eaglet, I’m using everything in my hand. I don’t have political power or a big office, just a big heart [its more than enough]. I need you to focus on using your heart as your greatest asset.

  12. Akanimo Tommy writes,

    The issue with agricultural produce in Africa is not that they are no more farmers neither less of planting and rearing but the real issue lies on storage, packaging and marketing I wish we will realize these and block the wastages by then food will be sufficient for all of us in Africa #Agriprenuer the way forward

    My reply,
    If you study the AgriFoods industry of a country like the US, you will find that there are huge companies that provide “storage and packaging”, as you have observed.
    What you [personally] have to realize is that a hundred years ago these countries had similar problems, then young entrepreneurs like you saw this as an opportunity. Until we have young Africans who can look at a problem, and determine to solve it through entrepreneurship, it will remain a problem.

    I asked everyone on the platform to listen to the Podcasts like #Business Wars, and #How I built This; so that you can see that these giant companies you see today were started by passionate young people who struggled sometimes for years to get started.

    This problem you see is begging you to solve it as an entrepreneur!

  13. Simbarashe Raymond Mudukuti writes,

    I was thinking in this day and age we need to do something about the underutilized farming land in Zimbabwe. Definitely EcoFarmer would come in handy with the advise on how to tilt the land. The idea is simple link the land owners who cannot utilize their land with those willing to rent it with an app probably name it EcoLand. The app may offer information about the area for example the land is in region 4 where rainfall, humidity and sun levels are so and so. No lies but in the next 5 years agriculture is going to be a big driving economic factor and right now Africa and Zimbabwe has a lot of fertile rich land

    My reply,
    Such a platform has already been developed by Vaya Logistics, as part of Vaya Digital Farmer, which also runs Vaya Tractor. It is called Vaya Land Exchange. It’s launch was delayed by the Pandemic.
    Great minds think alike, and we have some great minds at Vaya Africa team. Check out their website today.
    They have just launched Vaya Tractor in Togo, and Nigeria!

  14. Israel Ibok writes,

    Please is the competition only for women?

    My reply,
    You have no chance of winning such a competition if you don’t sit down to #Read carefully. You did not read, but used a picture to make your conclusion. Please don’t do that because you will always deny yourself opportunities, or you become a victim of those who read on your behalf.
    Read the comment by “Isaac” who won it. It is on the platform below.

  15. Second reply to:

    Simbarashe Raymond Mudukuti writes,

    I was thinking in this day and age we need to do something about the underutilized farming land in Zimbabwe. Definitely EcoFarmer would come in handy with the advise on how to tilt the land. The idea is simple link the land owners who cannot utilize their land with those willing to rent it with an app probably name it EcoLand. The app may offer information about the area for example the land is in region 4 where rainfall, humidity and sun levels are so and so. No lies but in the next 5 years agriculture is going to be a big driving economic factor and right now Africa and Zimbabwe has a lot of fertile rich land

    My reply,
    One of the cardinal mistakes you can make is to spend your time thinking about business ideas on behalf of others that you don’t work for!
    I cannot sit here and say to myself “why doesn’t Aliko Dangote, use such and such a material for cement.”

    It is not my business to think about what another business should be doing to make more money!

    Spend your time thinking about your own entrepreneurship.
    And when you have thought about it, don’t rush to broadcast it on a platform like this for all to see!
    Start working on it quietly to turn it from idea to #Product!

  16. Yenge Terungwa Cyprian writes,

    I am in the photovoltaic space last week I ran into a guy whom is good at Tech spaces

    Next week we may be having a merger
    We are currently spoting out for a someone with soft skills.

    We have in the short time remotely engage ourselves and come up with wonderful ideas that will help increase our revenue stream

    But our mouth is shut untill we lunch it
    I am currently studying the current hacks but so are to expensive some not to safe some time consuming

    That’s the opportunity for us.

    My reply,
    Even now you are saying too much!
    If I were your potential partner, I would be worried about your ability to exercise discretion.

  17. Zibusiso Mpofu writes,

    Yes its steps by steps but you took more than a just a step by your new acquisition well done to you and everyone at ADC.

    My reply,
    I’m glad you spotted this deal:
    Africa Data Centers made a multi billion Rand acquisition in South Africa. The deal took more than a year to consummate including approvals from regulatory authorities.
    ADC is a Unicorn now, having crossed a $bn valuation.

    For those of you wanting to know more about this company, please visit it on the web.

  18. Paul Igala writes,

    I love that principal of step by step but a step with innovation. This principal has taught me alot and has enable to acomplish some of my projects that would not due to fear. big project require a lot of money and this can make feel it’s not within your ability because require more resources and funds that are not within your reach, but with this principal, I have realised that so long as you know what to start with and what to end with everything can be achieved provided you have the patience and discipline.

    My reply,
    This is extremely important.
    “Precept upon precept”, is how the Bible puts it.

    “Show me how you start small, so we can get started.”
    ~Strive Masiyiwa

  19. Gift Alvis Ndlovu writes,

    Chief all in all there have been 152 version of the iPhone since the launch of IOS 1 in January 9 2007 which was released to the public alongside the original iphone and the current version IOS 13.5 which was released yesterday May 20 (Source wikipedia) Whats interesting is that the original iphone doesnot come close to the current version. The original version could only do calls, texts, photos, mail, maps weather, youtube player, network edge and Wifi but now OMG!! It can do face ID, security is state of the art, Facetime, Siri, App store, Apple Music, Air Drop, Good battery health, Good camera,3D touch, Memoji, Car Play, Augumented reality and my favourite Face Id whilst wearing a face mask and exposure notification. You gotta love the #Vision #process #people Steve Jobs put in place in his organisation

    My reply,
    I look forward to speaking with you, when your turn comes on Sasai Teamtalk.
    Meanwhile uses this principle in your own ventures.
    For the record Sasai has now done about 30 Up dates, since it launched in August last year.

  20. #Pause:

    Tips in building a business:


    Most of you were already on the platform two years ago, when I launched Vaya Africa. At the time it was a @Fast Follow of Uber for Zimbabwe. We offered one premium car service. I want you to go to the website now, after two years:
    Vaya Africa.

    “Step by step; but steps in innovations”.

    #1. How many steps of innovation do you see?
    #2. How many countries do you see?
    We are now as far west as Togo, where we are launching Vaya Tractor!

    I’m already dreaming about listing Vaya Africa, the way I did with Cassava, but this listing will not be in Zimbabwe.

    A vision must be built up through many, many ideas.
    Don’t just say you have an idea. Say you have “ideas”.

    “Show me how to start your vision small, so we can get started.”
    ~Strive Masiyiwa

  21. #Pause:

    Tips in building a business:


    “Show me how to start your business small, so we can get started.”
    ~Strive Masiyiwa.

    I had a vision to solve the power problem in Africa using renewable energy. Almost 15 years ago, I started to implement my vision:
    I started by selling solar lanterns!
    Then I started to add steps of innovations:
    Every few months with my team we added something to the vision.
    Today our vision has evolved into a company we call Distributed Power Africa [DPA]. It has found its own niche in a rapidly growing industry:
    Africa’s energy revolution has truly started.

    It is not about doing it all by yourself, but about showing the way, even if it is to competitors; Africa is big enough for all of us!

    If you have not yet started, it might be because you have not yet found the “small” place to start.

  22. #Pause:

    Re Imagine Rural.

    There is a place in rural Zimbabwe called Ndolwane . It is in a part of the country known as Matabeleland.
    We chose it as the first site of our ReImagine Rural Ugesi Minigrids:

    We built a 100 KW solar power plant at its small business center. It now provides power to 70 small businesses, and other activities. Some are using it to irrigate market gardens to sell vegetables.

    This is my vision of how rural Africa can be ReImagined.

    Even with the Pandemic, we are still ReImagining;
    It might slow us down, but it will never stop us!

    Don’t stop ReImagining!

  23. Thembisile Mlambo Mutlanyana

    Waiting in expectancy for it…[Sasai WiFi Finder].

    My reply,
    The good news is that Sasai WiFi Finder is already up and running in South Africa. Someone called me yesterday to say their Sasai App was showing WiFi Finder sites. I then checked with the team, and they confirmed that at least 10 countries are now live in “pre-commercial”…shhh…it’s still one month away from launch!

  24. Murah Regalo Pablo writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa This is a very good initiative and I will comment from my own professional perspective, having worked in the financial services sector all my life. One thing stands out to be a major detriment to both small scale farmers as well as young African entrepreneurs in general. That thing is called financial literacy. In Africa we are blessed with hard workers, people with great ideas and innovation but because of lack of financial literacy we do not reach our maximum potential. So what we have done at my organization ( a small (for now) start up MFI) is targeting mainly the informal businesses run mainly by women is to introduce, over and above the tailor made soft loans we give them, a financial literacy course. To date we have helped plenty of fruit and vegetable vendors from Mbare Musika. Our efforts saw us winning the 2019 Most Exceptional Customer Centric MFI a Zimbabwe Association Microfinance Institutions (ZAMFI) award. The point I am trying to drive is, you may support anyone financially and with all the necessary support one could get but if they are financially illiterate they are bound to fail. You can be very educated but still financially illiterate, a fact that may shock some.

    My reply,
    You are absolutely correct!
    This is one of the most important comments ever!
    I love your work. Keep me in the loop.

  25. #Update on my job as one of the Special Envoys on Africa’s Covid Response:

    This is currently my #1 job!
    I’m working on average 10 hrs per day to find solutions, as per my mandate:

    #Find critical supplies~Unblock the Supply Chain!

    Africa has a critical shortage of key items, which are also in short supply worldwide:

    #. Testing Kits:
    We need about 15m per month, if the continent is achieve the level of Testing that will contain the spread of the disease and also eliminate Lockdowns.
    We are currently getting 2,5m per month; or about 50k per country!!!

    These Test Kits, are actually not easy to produce, and setting up production factories will take time.
    Every country has a shortage of these kits including the USA.

    We are close to meeting our target now. And there are innovations coming through which will see us eliminate the shortage completely.

    #.Personal Protection Equipment for Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers:
    The specification required of PPE for those handling sick patients is extremely high, as it should. The supply of such PPE is in critical global shortage.

    …we are making good progress here too!

    #. Ventilators, and Oxygen support equipment:
    We currently need over 50,000 of various types of this equipment.

    I’m confident!

    My approach to solving this problem of “Supply Chain”:

    My first task was to read up to get understanding of what was required.
    ~Speak to experts.

    ~Mobilize African experts.
    ~Mobilize international support even governments.
    ~Mobilize African private sector.


    I have built a team of experts and volunteers now, who really understand these issues. Many like me, are also in DiasporaNation. They have joined to help HomeNations.

    I’m confident that we can unblock The Supply Chain:
    ~Give African countries immediate access to what they want;
    ~Ensure that prices are fair;
    ~Ensure they can be delivered quickly and efficiently.

    We have began to build a formidable alliance of African and global partners, including funders, and suppliers.

    The next two weeks are crucial. There is much resistance, even against me personally. I will not be distracted because I understand where it comes from.

    #You will soon know exactly what we are able to secure:

    Since I believe in transparency, I will be issuing a progress report to the African governments, and the general public will also be able to see exactly what we have obtained through a website that we will launch first week of June.

    Please continue to support us, even in prayers.

    Strive Masiyiwa

  26. Samuel Maduna writes,

    Some newspapers reported Liquid telecom not ADC is that correct?

    My reply,
    ADC is a subsidiary of Liquid Telecom Group.
    When you want to find out this kind of information about any business, it is best to visit their website.
    If I had been a potential investor in your business, I would find it difficult to invest in your venture, if you ask the type of question that you can easily find yourself.

    Let’s step up our game Sam. You have a lot of potential, so use it.

  27. #Vaya Tractor is my Agripreneur Venture!

    Vaya Tractor is one of the most interesting ventures I have ever done with my team. It shows you that you can enter Agripreneurship from almost any industry.
    We partner with owners of tractors, as well as Truckers to deliver tractors wherever they are required in a country. We can provide Tillage, and even seeds and fertilizer to farmers.
    Since we launched the service in Zimbabwe, it has expanded nationwide and is used by both small and large farmers.
    This year we began the continental expansion of the service. There are operations being set up in Nigeria, and Togo.
    As a business within a business [it is part of Vaya Logistics], it is now cash flow positive. In other words it is making money.

    We keep @Innovating Vaya Tractor, and now it includes things like Combine Harvesters, and other heavy agric machinery.

    You were there when I started this business!

  28. #Reflection:

    Food @Innovation is what you should be thinking about @Entrepreneur-It!

    In Business Wars, I really enjoyed the battles that created the Breakfast Cereal giants we have today, such as Kellogg’s.

    These guys took everyday food items like Maize, and Wheat, and created @Food Innovations. One of the most remarkable innovations was the way Rice Crispies [which we still eat] were first created!

    Just stop and reflect today on something like Cassava, or Maize, or the fruits that we eat whole:
    What @Innovations could you develop with them?

    Our everyday foods are just crying out for @Food Entrepreneurs, who can @Innovate with them!

    Remember the money does not simply come from the ability to produce something, but the ability to @Innovate with it!

    This is what prompted Drucker, one of the foremost thinkers on entrepreneurship, to declare:

    “Innovation…makes money..”

    When you take Cassava or Millet to Innovate a new type of Food, that is when you will gain accolade as a Food Entrepreneur!

    No pressure!

  29. #Update on Sasai Moments!

    Sasai Version 2.9.3 was published by the Stores yesterday. It has a new feature called Sasai Moments.
    Please let me know what you think of it.
    I’m so proud of the team that worked on this.
    Our attention now turns to Sasai Watch which will be published next week.
    Sasai App marches on!
    “Innovation makes money…”

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