Business Science and Technology

Masiyiwa has started four businesses that are now valued at more than $13 billion


Businessman Strive Masiyiwa has so far founded four different businesses that are valued at more than $13 billion. Commenting on his Facebook page, the Econet founder said four of his business ventures had become what are known as Unicorns:

-Econet Wireless Zimbabwe $3,2bn

-Cassava Zimbabwe $3,8bn

-Liquid Telecom $2,5bn,

-And Airtel Nigeria, which he started and is now worth over $4bn. He sold his stake in the business about two years ago.

Other well-known businesses that he started such as Mascom Botswana, and 2Degrees New Zealand are also closing in on the billion dollar status.Mr Masiyiwa said all these were businesses that he started from scratch. “I promoted them to investors, and I set them up, hiring their first employees.”

The London based entrepreneur who left his country 19 years ago, said, “My passion is to start a business from scratch. I like to see an idea become a business providing service and employing people. I’m a builder not an investor.”

Being able to list a company opens it to investment by Pension Funds and Life insurance companies which helps grow retirement benefits. It also spreads the wealth. He said he is working on developing other businesses that he hopes will one day also achieve Unicorn status. The Econet founder who calls himself a serial entrepreneur has always said he considers his core skill as being able to pitch to investors to raise money behind an idea, whilst risking his own money.

“It is not about owning 100% but leveraging skills and capital. I would rather have 5% of a $4 billion company than 100% of a $200 million company. I just like to see businesses grow, even if I don’t own that much; I’m a builder,” he wrote.

Mr Masiyiwa has consistently urged his young entrepreneurs not to be obsessed about owning a majority in their businesses, always reminding them that the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world often own as little as 25%. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world owns 16% of Amazon the company he started. “The key is to open up the business to capital, and then to run it well. True investors are only interested in getting higher returns on their investment.”

He said he likes to work with investors that value what he brings to the table as an entrepreneur. “Econet Zimbabwe for instance, did not succeed simply because we had a license. There were two other operators with licenses. Telecel has had three international partners, but none of them could beat us in that market.”

Mr Masiyiwa said he blogs on Facebook so that he can share his experiences with the next generation of young entrepreneurs. “I want them to feel it is possible, and that I’m just a regular guy, empowered by Grace.” Meanwhile, the US-based Forbes magazine has released its 2019 African billionaire list which shows that his personal wealth had increased from $1.6bn in 2018 to $2.3bn.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende