The Lion and the Ranger (Part 3)

__Future entrepreneurial opportunities that are now…

A few months ago the British government announced that it will ban “combustion engine vehicles” from the UK roads in 2040. That means they will not allow vehicles which use petrol or diesel on the roads!

# All cars will either have to be electric, or use some other type of fuel!

Ever since that announcement, several other governments around the world have done the same. It turns out that the British were not even the first. Who can tell me which other countries?

As an engineer, I have been expecting the end of the combustion engine for quite a while, to be honest. It’s been around for over 100 years. Too long! As I reflected on this, my thoughts went back to when the “horseless carriage” first emerged…

In the advanced economy nations of Europe and America, horses had been there for thousands of years. America alone had a population of 26 million horses. Horses supported millions of jobs in the cities and on the farms, and famously powered the wagon trains rushing towards America’s “Wild West” in search of gold and silver.

__Can you imagine the fear and trepidation from those who stood to lose their jobs?!

There were also entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity… I once asked someone whose grandfather set up one of the first South African “garages” (service centers) for cars, in the 1920s, how he got into the business.

“My grandfather was very entrepreneurial. As soon as he heard about cars, he said to himself: “How can I make money from this new invention that is going to sweep the world?”

He did not have much money but he decided first to simply offer a cleaning service, washing cars for the rich. And it went on from there. Next he started to sell petrol, and learnt to repair cars, and so on. Before long he was one of the richest people around.

What has changed since those heady days of the 1920s? Actually, nothing! The reaction will be the same as it was when the car challenged the horse for supremacy:

#Some will dismiss it as a passing fad that cannot challenge something so well established;

# Some will shrug their shoulders in fear;

# Others will be excited by new products, as consumers;

# Others will demand action from politicians to stop the “threat”;

# Others will see conspiracies by unseen forces to make them poor;

# Others will start looking for opportunities that could turn them into millionaires and billionaires…

__These are the entrepreneurs, just like that guy’s grandfather!

So what do YOU “see”? As I asked last week: Are you following tracks or creating new ones? The changing seasons call for both trackers and trail blazers.

Did you know that in the 1890s, the best-selling car in America was… an electric car, manufactured by a transportation pioneer called Colonel Albert Augustus Pope? (He was considered father of the American bicycle industry before the turn of that century).

“Who would willingly sit atop an explosion?” Pope reportedly asked about the internal combustion engine, at first… Meanwhile Henry Ford read the opportunity and market differently. The rest, as they say, is history. Or is it?

Now more than 100 year later, it’s the oil-powered motor car that will soon fade into the sunset. Yes, it will be gone inside 25 years!

Every single car manufacturer is rushing to introduce its own electric versions. Others are joining in, too. It’s like an arms race out there. Tesla, a company founded by an African, is leading the charge and making Elon Musk insanely rich!

__The electric car will come to Africa and I am ready for it. I have found my little niche in that game, and I’m not telling anyone… not even you my friend!

The “young-old” like me are seeing breathtaking opportunities. What about you? Are you carefully studying the changing environment, as all good rangers must? What by-products do you see?

There has never been a time such as now for entrepreneurs! (But as I said last week, success sometimes takes a lot of patience)…

“My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it,” said Nikola Tesla in 1919. “It was too far ahead of time. But the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success.”

Wow. Ever heard the expression “Hitch your wagon to a star…” ? Let’s talk.

To be continued. . .

by 22 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

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.

22 thoughts on “The Lion and the Ranger (Part 3)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The Apostle Paul once said: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” There’s always a need to update our mindsets, and how we “see” things that we have held onto for a long time. The same Apostle once said, “If you can see something, it is subject to change.”

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    “We will not leave the age of oil because we ran out of oil, in the same way we did not leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones” said the economist Paul Collier. “Innovation is what will end the oil age.”

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    Only about three weeks ago, the CEO of Ford Motor Company announced it was reducing capital expenditures on internal combustion engines by ONE THIRD and redeploying that capital into electrification! (This on top of an earlier $4.5bn investment). According to Ford’s head of global operations, this will likely mean an assembly area about half the size, and a 30% reduction in labor, per car.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    “Progress is a new season and the rule of progress is everything in its season,” said Henry Ford in 1923. Years later in 1935, Ford revealed in an interview: “Although Mr. Edison was called ‘The Wizard’ of the electrical world and everyone thought that electricity was the coming thing, he actually encouraged me to go with my second car.” You will learn a lot from reading biographies of such men, including Nikola Tesla, an inventor who briefly worked with Thomas Edison.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 5.
    One of my engineering teams asked to enter a competition to build a civilian drone which could carry at least 60 kg around Mount Kilimanjaro (and that was a few years ago…) Where do you think it will go? And most importantly, what opportunities do YOU see? Don’t give me an answer here (unless you are foolish). Go out and do something to make YOU a billionaire. (If you don’t someone else will!)

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    There is a village in Nigeria called Sagamu. It is the birth place of Antony Joshua’s mother, and he considers it his village. We are hoping to set up a special viewing center so that they can watch the live fight between him and Takam on Saturday evening!
    They will join an expected 100m viewers who will watch the fight in 22 African countries.
    We have set in motion all our platforms to ensure anyone in those 22 countries can see this fight.
    Remember both Joshua and Takam are of African descent. They love the continent.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Gabriel writes,

    How I wish you can explain the reason why you introduced #kwesetv at the same time TSTV was introduced into Nigeria market. For me, it doesn’t help the publicity of the brand because, but if there is any theory that back your decision, I will like to know and learn from it.

    My reply,
    To begin with I had never heard of TSTV until very recently. As a rule I do not ever talk about a competitor, and I will not do so now.
    At school I ran short distance track, and I knew that if you turn to see what someone else is doing in a race, you will lose it. Just put your head down and run, focusing on your own race!

    All I can say is that Nigeria (and Africa in particular) is a very big market, and can certainly accommodate more players. It’s people deserve more options.

    Each one will have to distinguish themselves in different ways, and that is an exciting opportunity for serious entrepreneurs, willing to play by the rules of entrepreneurship.

    Kwese Tv is now in 16 countries including Nigeria, and we have done this in less than 3 months. Almost 50% of what we show is exclusive to us, and not available anywhere else. We have also (for the first time ever) managed to get access to content that was previously only available to one network. It was not easy to get access to content like CNN, World Cup, EPL, FormulaOne. I often had to go personally to get the owners of this content to give us access.

    We will do everything we can to earn your support, but always happy that you now have more choices, even if you don’t at first choose us.
    Stay blessed.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    As an entrepreneur do not see this Post in terms of what is happening in the car industry, unless you happen to be an entrepreneur in that sector, or something related to it.

    Rather I want you to extract key principles for yourself as an entrepreneur, and not as as a consumer or a public commentator:

    #1. In your own industry be constantly on the look out for opportunities created by new innovations;
    #2. “The early bird catches the fat worm”:
    The sooner you start looking at new developments, and find opportunities, the more spectacular the chances of success.
    #3. There is always an “entry point” for you. Electric cars don’t mean you must be a manufacturer. You don’t have the capital for that, but there is something you can do to get into the game, even if you start with a simple cleaning service!
    The true entrepreneur knows that they can find an “entry point” into a game.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Pere writes,

    Glory! I just got an idea! Its a bit out of the box but still relates to electric cars. I will gather a team right away. Just like our Mentor (Dr) I am not telling. #MemberNigeriaYouthPreneur

    My reply,
    As part of this series, I will share with you the steps I took when I first read about mobile phones.
    I’m sure you will enjoy it!

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    When we launched the mobile industry and set up networks at great cost, no one in my industry ever imagined that some young guys [the next generation of entrepreneurs] coming behind us, would use those networks to launch businesses that would be bigger than our own!

    Imagine businesses like Google, Facebook, Amazon are today much, much bigger than the biggest mobile companies like Vodafone, China Mobile, MTN etc!
    And you know what these companies did not even ask for permission from the mobile networks to use their networks to deliver their service, and they certainly don’t share money with them!

    Services like What’s App use mobile networks to deliver their services, and they do not share anything with them!

    Am I complaining?
    That’s just how the world of entrepreneurship works.

    If you can develop services that use these networks, and even the Amazons themselves, which do not require their permission, or break IP laws…do so!
    If you can persuade them to partner with you…even better!
    Bill Gates did a deal with IBM.
    Steve Job ignored Nokia.
    They both prospered.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kaydron writes,

    Why is it that whenever opportunity comes the next things that come to people’s mind is the problems that might come with it, what I believe is that God has deposited in human
    being mind the solution to every problem and this one is not a problem rather is the new way to bring the best out of you, the preparation must start from now for every country’s who has his peoples interest at heart, my country (Nigeria) is not exception, we can greatly benefit from this new method if it is eventually come, My great mentor Dr, you are such an amazing leader that this present generation needed most, thanks for feeding us with amazing news, the entire Africa countries will benefitted greatly if preparation meet opportunity.

    My reply,
    I appreciate much of what you say here.
    Those who can only identify problems and challenges whilst not looking for solutions which will propel them into new businesses, end up being just commentators.

    Electric cars are not something that is going to happen in the future. They are here now. When I was in California recently I travelled only in an electric car, and they were everywhere.
    Someone just opened an electric car dealership near my house in London.
    They are here.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    A few years ago as part of my [personal ] research to get a better understanding of electric cars, I travelled to a center in the US where they do research into different types of battery technologies.
    #I have been on this issue for 10 years now!

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The other day I read about an amazing new technology (which shall remain nameless today). I immediately asked my team to contact the Chinese company that had developed it!
    And guess what?!
    They told me that a guy from South Africa had been to see them already and had done a deal!
    I called him, to congratulate him!

    [and before you think of a reason why you could not do the same, here are some interested facts about him:
    #very, very young!
    #no big business behind him!
    #an African!

    Already a member of this platform.]

    This is how I’m creating Africa’s next billionaires:
    #Smart young men and women who take a hold of an idea, and run with it. “Looking neither to the left or the right…face fixed as flint!”

    My kind of guy!!!

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Stephanie writes,

    I watched the story of the aforementioned trio in a documentary titled The Men Who Built America and it changed my whole perspection of who an entrepreneur is. I loved it so much.

    My reply,
    A few years ago my kids gave me the whole series on DVD for Christmas. I did not leave my house for several days!
    It is just amazing!
    For those who have not seen it, we will have it on Kwese Inc. We are waiting for more people to first get decoders, so we don’t have to make it a repeat.

  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Juan writes,

    I have been researching on this line since 2012 and I see the bigger picture and always excited. I didnt know you’re involved or even interested! Alas, am thus encouraged..

    My reply,
    I bought my first drone in a toy shop almost 10 years ago (I think). I used to fly it in the back yard. I was not playing!

    They have come a long way since then…and they are no longer about military applications either.
    Any idea what they can do for your own business?
    Don’t just write here [that would be foolishness]. Start working on it, and preparing.

  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Now I want to visit Sagamu:
    Yes, we should plan a Town Hall meeting and broadcast to the world from the great city of Sagamu.
    If you invite me, I will surely try to come, but I want to find many friends there.
    My team will Keep an eye for when we can come to Sagamu in the future…no joke!

  17. Atowoju Oluwapelumi David

    With the Arena. The way telecommunications are done in the world will be changed within the next five years to come. Permit me to tell you sir that this invention is new, no one has ever tried it. I called this invention Arena

  18. Mebeelo Kafungwa

    Dear Mr Strive Masiyiwa,

    Since the day I heard of you, read your books, your wisdom posts on Facebook and ultimately the story of your life from various individuals. I have been inspired and I believe this is the only framework I may reach out to you.

    Today I have evolved into a young man who is striving to achieve tangible, practical and worth recognizable beneficial personality to inspire my fellow African youths and the Zambian population.

    Part of career aims is to become an author who helps my fellow African youths both men and women to break out of social norms and habits that limit our mental development process.

    I have followed your posts the past months and I sincerely give you credit Sir. You are a good writer and thank you for the wisdom you share with us via your Facebook posts.

    I am confident you can help me improve my first book of 14 chapters which only me has read so far.

    I have entitled it,
    ” Changing the Conversation with Zambia,

    the ANGRY WOMAN is that CALM LADY

    Breaking Out of Society Norms”

    I am kindly asking you to accept the offer to write the foreword of my book anticipated to be personally ready for publication next year. Looking forward to your honourable response and support.

    Mebeelo Kafungwa

  19. Mark Lynch

    This change is certainly needed from the combustion engine if we were to become a sustainable society.Its not to late and we can sill reverse the effects of global warming. I currently know a country where it cost cheaper to fill up your petrol tank than to purchase a 250ml bottled water… yes a 250ml bottled water.


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