A Reflection: What is your vision?

Twenty-five years ago, a dear friend in America heard about the travails I was going through in Zimbabwe in my efforts to get an operating license for my mobile business. He was a senior director of one of the largest companies in America. He wanted to see how he could help me.

“I have been speaking to some very influential friends of mine about you,” he began to tell me when we met a few months later.

“I think you have the potential to become a remarkable businessman. So, here is my suggestion: Give up the pursuit of a mobile business and come into something like McDonald’s. I have spoken to people there, and they will give you a franchise for any African country of your choice. You are just what they need. They will train you and give you capital.”

He then explained to me how this remarkable organization worked. He gave me a pile of books on them, which I read that weekend. I was in absolute awe of them, and I knew this opportunity could change my life forever. With passion and their organizational acumen and support, it would make me a very, very rich man.

A few days later, I called my friend and declined the opportunity. With barely enough money to feed my children, and not knowing what would happen next, I headed back to my beloved country to continue my fight.

Fast forward:

Twenty-five years later, I ran into my old friend, now retired from his job. He looked me in the eye, with glistening tears: “I have followed your career with such pride. You achieved everything I thought you could. And you did it on your terms. Don’t stop.”

That was a hard, hard decision for me to take. Let me tell you this, “As long as you live in time and space,” you will not be spared the need to make decisions like this one. You will not be spared some tough, tough situations. You will not be spared setbacks, and even bitter disappointments, at times.

I had a vision of what I wanted to do, and I was not going to be distracted from that vision, even by what seemed to be better opportunities.


“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I did not have a vision to make a lot of money; I had a vision to transform telecommunications in Africa. On my desk, I had a mission statement which said, “Our mission is to take telecommunications to all the peoples of Africa.”

If my mission had been to make money, I would have accepted a franchise from one of the best companies in the world.

A vision is not a vision if you aren’t prepared to pay a price to make it happen. Making money is not a vision, and neither can it be a mission.

Today I have another vision, and you are in it!

Stay with me, we have work to do together.  It has only just begun.

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 “A Reflection: What is your vision?

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    It was an interesting week. I wrote about it several months ago in the series, the Eagle in a Storm. Go back to it, if you want to understand the times we are in. Beyond that I will not engage in political debates concerning America, or any other country. Let’s move on…

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    “Where there is no vision there is no hope,” said George Washington Carver, an African American inventor and agricultural chemist, born into slavery way back in the 1860s. Orphaned very young, Carver didn’t let tough times get in the way of his dreams. One of many things he’s known for is devising about 100 different products using one crop, the peanut, which he thought would help poor farmers not only source better food but have a better quality of life. With vision there is hope… What is your vision?

    • Murambiwa Munemo

      My vision is to be a christian literature author. I have already written a 30 000 word manuscript. My wish and lifelong dream is to set captives free through the written word. The only thing holding me back is not knowing how to find the right publisher.

  3. Abdulrahman

    Dear Mr Strive,

    Your message is really inspiring. And it resonates a lot with me. However, what about the people close to you, those who look up to you for nourishment. How do you take care of them if there is no money but just your vision. After trying consistently, some make a breakthrough after a year, some 5 years and some even 30years. During this period. Many would be inclined to give up their visions to feed those close to them in order not be selfish. How can one deal with such situation?

  4. charles

    I sincere agree with your articulation about the need for a vision. However i believe that such a vision needs to be shared by all and sundry in a company/organization setting. I work for one of the biggest African Intergovernmental organization and recently I was on an assignment in Harare and I experienced serious issues dealing with Econet wireless there. My experience clearly showed that the employees are not well grounded on the Econet wireless Vision. This being a public forum, i am not ready to share my very sad experience but i can be contacted on the e-mail provided in the event that Econet Wireless management is interested to hear this sad experience.

  5. Danny Toti

    I have also have a vision…
    In it I see this man of God, Strive Misiyiwa in my country, Papua New Guinea, and in my home island, New Britain, speaking (in)to our men: our grandfathers, our fathers, our brothers, our sons and our grandsons….
    And this vision, like his vision, shall come to pass…..

  6. SSII

    I think to determine one’s vision one should understand the times we live in. Having a Vision in a misplaced time/period equals time wasted. Everyman born has a purpose; a plant bears seed so that that seed bears more seeds. But such is life that we are born in a world that gives us a Vision instead of us finding the true Vision, at an early teen age in life we are shown glamourous living of people who possess material wealth and paint a picture in our minds as the ‘Vision we all should achieve in life’. So we get busy chasing something that in the end has really no value, I found out recently that whatever earth gives, when one dies it takes away, but whatever comes from above lasts forever. The Son of the Creator said “It would be foolish to labour for something that fades rather than to labour for that which is eternal.” Knowing the times we live in has allowed me to see that we all have but one Vision and that is to speak the truth and also to help those who struggle in life. Our goals in life should be motivated by our Vision.There was a certain man who once leaved a long time ago who was influential and known because he understood the times his name was Jissaskar. Because of such knowledge he prospered and was successful in all that he did. He understood that Vision comes from the Light(Son of the Creator) and by this he could accomplish his purpose on earth….

  7. Womba Christina Yikona

    Dear Dr Strive, today I thought I’d spend some time to re-read this post and one or two more others. (Your blog and Facebook page are my favourite places on social media). You have been so gracious and generous in passionately teaching such profound insights. Wow Dr Strive, the Lord bless you a thousand times, just as He promised.

    Today, like before, I’ve been moved to tears, but beyond that, inspired to not let my vision die. My vision is to pioneer a mind-set change in my beloved Zambia and beyond by inspiring an ownership culture and addressing retrogressive habits. I cry when I see children who haven’t mastered the basics of etiquette (‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’); I shudder at the sight of a citizenry, throwing their empty can of soda from their car; I’m stunned when I see the total disregard for time, a meeting scheduled to start at say 8am will have its participants flocking after 8:30am! In your afterthought comments for the blog ‘Social entrepreneurs can change African’, you said; ‘Don’t have the mind-set which says, “Why doesn’t so and so do something?” whilst doing nothing yourself… No, YOU do something, because you can! Look around. You really can.’
    I trust that as we respond to that dream or the heart-breaking scenario that grabs our attention, we settle into our purpose as intended by God. For you it was that literal dream God gave you in your sleep in which you were building towers. For me it’s the burning desire I have to inspire a mind-set change. Esther was told by Mordecai in Esther 4:13-14 ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (This has actually reminded me of a blog you shared some months ago which I actually pondered on yesterday, ‘One of these days may be too late’).

    Thank you so much for your efforts Dr Strive – thank you for the inspiring series you write; thank you for praying over them before you post (I was so humbled to learn that); thank you for giving practical guides, examples and steps which make learning much easy; thank you for sometimes requesting feedback and giving tasks (I still remember and took seriously the challenge of establishing a website which I’m working on for my recently founded organisation, a domain has already been created); thank you for how you inspire a deeper search for more knowledge (I realise that if I’m really serious in this journey, the onus is on me to research, to read wider into some subjects which sometimes your blogs just introduce or give an overview of). Thank you for you. You are amazing and one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. I’m so humbled to have the rare honour of learning from you.

  8. Ayuk Armslem

    Wow great words Sir, I had been planning to make a book of your post for a long time until today i started with your post from 2014 till present and have 189 pages of “practical” business relevant material. I noticed you referred people to your previous post when you have to make a point, while compiling this notes some of your post had broken links. It would be great to just refer people to a book. I would like to let everyone have access to your book once it make 250 pages with your consent and approval ofcourse for knowledge is hardwork.

    Thank you for sharing this practical experience mentoring so many people from afar.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    A journalist once asked Archbishop Tutu, why he was always optimistic:
    “It is because I’m a prisoner of hope”, he replied.
    No matter how dark, or hopeless the situation becomes, don’t allow yourself to become cynical about the future. Make yourself “a prisoner of hope”, because hope never fails.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Anon, writes:

    I don’t care really,i just want to be rich

    My reply:
    When this is your vision, and mission, the problem is, if the opportunity to be rich comes through theft and corruption, you will take it. If it comes through destruction of your environment or endangered animals, you will take it. Ultimately, if it comes through peddling drugs and narcotics, you will take it.
    At least he has been honest, and we all know someone who thinks like this, and some of them hold high offices of state, somewhere in the world.
    In some Asian countries, every year they execute many young people (some of them Africans), who thought they could make money by bringing hard drugs…this is what happens when you say to yourself “I don’t care really, I just want to be rich.”

    • Rogier Buker

      Dear Mr. Strive Masiyiwa,
      Our mission is to make sure that The Green Elephant Project will succeed !
      We are determined to improve / transform the living & health conditions of the people in Africa and especially the people of the BoP .
      By banning the use of wood and charcoal and try to eliminate the plague called ; Household Air Pollution.
      By creating / producing our clean , green , sustainable and affordable alternative fuel for the millions of cook stoves currently used in Africa.
      We call on you to guide and assist us to make this possible because you
      ( as nobody else ) understands the impact of this huge problem which needs to be solved asap !!

  11. Wairimu Mungai

    My son shared the link and have found Dr. Strive’s messages very poweful and practial in times of need. They resonate with vision and work as an agent of change empowering the vulnerable households in Kenya most affected by poverty and disease enjoy equal rights – basic services and opportunities.


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