Pause: From vision to action…

__#ReImaginingRural, starting at home!
I have a vision. I call them Rural Entrepreneurship Centers. Each one would be located at a business center in rural Africa, powered by a solar “mini-grid” providing enough electricity for any small business activity, plus Internet cafes, and eventually, clean water and sanitation. Last week we launched a new company to roll out these “mini-grids”! It is called Ugesi Energy. Here’s the link: www.ugesienergy.com Let me know what you think!My wife suggested and I agreed that we should start out in the Matabeleland provinces of Zimbabwe, where we will roll out the first 10 “mini-grids” over the next six months! Teams have already arrived in Bulawayo, the regional capital, and will start work within two weeks.I want each Ugesi Energy-powered Rural Entrepreneurship Center (REC) to attract entrepreneurs and innovators of all kinds!We know entrepreneurs need financial support to get started, so a couple of weeks ago we launched the $100m Masiyiwa Rural Challenge Fund in my home country of Zimbabwe. Through Steward Bank, loans of up to $10k will be disbursed at 5% interest, to entrepreneurs who show they can set up and scale their ventures in rural areas. The Masiyiwa Fund is an “impact investment” supported by our family foundation.Anyone from Zimbabwe with an interesting business that can be based in or within a 5k radius of these RECs will be able to apply for a loan, without having to put up collateral. Applications will be processed using our AI platform called Kwenga.

At each REC, I want to see shared economy businesses like KariGo and HelloTractor offering contract ploughing services to local farmers. I want to see agritech and agrifood ventures. I want to see young people with their own visions launching amazing new #ReImagineRuralbusinesses!

#AgripreneurAlert: What businesses might you set up in a REC, if you had access to electricity, Internet, and a loan of up to $10,000?

Already we have people planning to set up businesses such as poultry, cottage dairies, welding and sewing shops. Others are talking about food products such as tomatoes and fresh vegetables. Others have new innovations in mind…

What about the rest of Africa? If the Zimbabwe pilot is successful, I will encourage other African countries also to adopt this model. Already I have targeted Rwanda, Burundi, Lesotho and Botswana as potential countries for similar projects. Are you in?

Success for me is not just rural Zimbabwe. I want to scale this vision across Africa!

I have spoken to several global philanthropists about #ReImagineRural. The response has been remarkable, principally because I have “skin in the game” — an African philanthropist putting his own money on the table.

But we cannot do it alone. I need you to succeed once an opportunity like this is opened. Don’t allow fraudsters and others to ruin it. Be vigilant even if you are not benefiting immediately. Help me to help you!

For instance, if people who get these loans from Steward Bank don’t pay them back on time, it will hurt the community’s ability to get future loans. When they do repay as promised, it will grow the fund for the community!

#SeniorClass, please share with others on the platform here about the Grameen Bank model and how it works.

Your generation must define the future. Who will take up my challenge?

What can you do #RightWhereYouAre?

I know times are very, very tough, in many places. Still like eagles in the storm, you must stay focused and keep your eyes open for opportunities. They are out there!

What is your own vision? What do you see?

End.

 

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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.

One thought on “Pause: From vision to action…

  1. Vivian Madoda

    Towards the end of 2017 ,I was dissatisfied with my professional life and felt I needed a challenge but could not find a suitable one till i stumbled upon Muzinda Hub ,Econet’s school of computer programming on the list of liked pages by my uncle Wilson.I gave him a ring and we met at the famous braaing centre ,Zindoga in Waterfalls.Fast forward ,to June and I had the Python language under my belt .I still felt I was not finished and searched again for the next phase.I stumbled upon the Bulawayo based Creative College of Arts which was offering a diploma in Animation.I enrolled and set about to start but was denied because the class was not full for the program to commence.I switched to sound engineering and was hooked.This then brought an idea to start a recording studio but me being me , it was not enough .It was too ordinary .I bought a piece of land near Ntabazinduna and voila, something hit me.A purely rural ,solar powered recording studio in Matebelaland.I know Mr Masiyiwa always says keep your plans under wraps lest someone steal from you but I won’t mind because my heart raced when I read about your initiative and if that person is not going to be me ,at least someone will make my vision a reality.Ps My uncle Wilson passed away in a road accident while coming from a ground breaking security systems job in Northern Mozambique in July 2018.He shared these visions with me and inspired me like Mr Masiyiwa

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