#BreakingNews: “Generation Africa” Fireside Chat 

World Economic Forum (WEF) 
Davos, Switzerland

Please join me and Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara International (the world’s largest crop nutrient company, based in Norway) as we discuss “Generation Africa,” an exciting new partnership initiative reflecting our shared vision of the need to inspire and support young agri-food entrepreneurs across the African continent.

Our fireside chat will also include two WEF Young Global Leaders and entrepreneurs:

Nigerian Ms Ada Osakwe, founder and CEO of Agrolay and
South Africa-based Ms Rapelang Rabana, founder of Rekindle Learning and Yeigo.

The co-creation conversation will be moderated by social entrepreneur and WEF Young Global Leader, Ms Katie Hill, who serves as Liquid Telecom’s Global Director of Power and Strategic Initiatives, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

by 29 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.

29 thoughts on “#BreakingNews: “Generation Africa” Fireside Chat 

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Reflection:
    As I flipped through all your comments, I was struck by just where all the comments are coming from!
    Wow!!!
    Last year we had 64m engagements, making us the most engaged platform on Facebook!
    #AfricaMattersToUs!!!
    That is why we are so engaged.
    We know we can make a difference.

    It’s important to engage. Here we will not laugh at you or denigrate you if you say something that does not make sense. We will try and help you.
    Don’t be afraid to say something. You are amongst friends.
    The best part for me is never what I say, but what YOU say afterwards.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Message to my civil servant friends:

    I know there are a lot of civil servants who follow this platform. How do I know this?
    Whenever I visit African leaders, there is always some civil servants who tell me they enjoy our platform.

    Please get involved.
    We need better policies.

    Entrepreneurship is going to make Africa flourish to unimaginable levels.
    Back your entrepreneurs.

    But if you feel you would also like to try a different career, quit your job [first] and join us. We need you here too.

    #Go for it!

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Pause:

    Supporting Entrepreneurship in Africa, is my life long passion!

    In 1990 I met for the first time with our country’s President [at the time]. It was after a group of Security Agents had abducted and nearly killed me.
    I secured the meeting through a relative, who asked the President to see me.

    I went to see him with a group of the country’s leading black businessmen. It was the first time that he had agreed to meet black businessmen to talk about Business and the economy. My colleagues asked me to be their spokesman. We were 7 of us.

    I pitched to President Mugabe the power of entrepreneurship, and showed him that jobs are created by small business.
    Our meeting lasted for 3 hrs. An avowed Marxist, he told me to my face he did not want to promote capitalism, but was prepared to support us if it created jobs.
    Finally he said to me, “do you have support in the country for these ideas?”
    “Yes, we do.” I replied.
    Then I added, “would you come to a conference of small business people, if I organize it?”
    A few weeks later I organized a conference which had 5000 delegates!
    They came from every corner of our country.
    I was just 29 years old!
    You are never too young to lead, but lead through ideas.
    For the next two years I spent 90% of my time organizing small business, and promoting entrepreneurship.
    I traversed the country, and met entrepreneurs at village level.
    I organized financing, and access to markets. I travelled to Europe, and America, as an advocate for Small business.
    I even met Prince Charles of The United Kingdom.

    Then I realized that the government’s only interest was the political value, rather than the economic value. I walked away, and went back to my business.
    When approached to take a position in government, I politely declined. I had decided then that I public political office was not for me. It was a choice I had made for myself and it was not because I think it is wrong. We need good people in politics, but it was not my own calling in life..
    We all have to respect in life that others find actualization in other vocations. I’m an entrepreneur, just like Archbishop Tutu is a priest, and Pastor Chris is a pastor!

    In 1993, I pitched the idea of setting up a mobile phone business. The President refused. I went to court, and the Supreme Court allowed me to operate on 31st December 1997.

    I left the country on 22nd March 2000, and have never returned.

    “Hope was deferred, but never denied, because hope never dies.”

    I will support entrepreneurs with my last breath.

    I want you to prosper as an entrepreneur.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    George Joseph writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa though is not your birthday today, all I wish is our almighty God to grant you more age, and Happiest heart upon this generation

    My reply,
    Thanks Joseph!
    Really appreciate. I turn 58 on Tuesday next week.

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Olatunde Victor Adeoluwa writes,

    How is wish I can like this 20 times more.

    You give me hope and reasons to shoot my arrows far into the air with the target in mind, not blur and not dim.

    I was 18 when I left home and took responsibility for my life.
    I decided to make something great happen in my lineage and for Nigeria and Africa.

    My life turned around that night when for about an hour on that state line street in FUTA Akure, I had stood waiting for help but i could not beg for money nor for food to eat after close 2 weeks of hunger.

    I had prior to this night, gambled and played bets to survive.

    But that night changed everything. I wasn’t a beggar… There had to be more. I had just given my life to Christ and there had to be more.

    And that Was it.

    I started with selling bread and egg, Noodles and egg by the students hostel as a 300 level student.

    I went through and failed and got into ICT in 2009. I self-trained myself as a computer engineer and Graphics Designer.

    I’ve sponsored myself through school for 13 years and by this time next year should be a Dr. Of Agricultural Engineering.

    I later took my field serious and built my first machine (a sugar cane juice extractor) that same year and that was the beginning of my exploit in Agriculture.

    Today Ovatech sets up small scale Factories and plants, builds Machineries.

    And is now building the first Shared Food Manufacturing space in Ondo State Nigeria which will yet scale across the country and continent To tackle malnutrition and Improve food Nutrition acrossboard all ages.

    What will I do without entrepreneurship?

    It’s been a life saver, but more than that, it’s a platform on which life Visions can be built.

    I’m glad you’re with us on this journey to greatness, that alone is a comfort to me and my team and that we are surely on the right path.

    Thanks Dr. Strive Masiyiwa…I’m glad to call you Daddy. Cos you’ve been more than one.

    My reply,
    I don’t think anyone would begrudge me, if I said I would like to meet you.
    There are many remarkable people on this platform that I would like to meet. I hope to meet you next time, I’m in Nigeria.
    You are an inspiration.

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Serex Regn writes,

    Yah u are doing good but having many restaurants will not solve hunger. The market is big but we need food producers

    My reply,
    The answer is not to criticize what someone else is doing but to go and do what you think should be done. In the end we need it all. Restaurants are necessary, and there are global businesses in this space.
    Let’s commend everyone for their efforts.
    I know a guy who started making chocolate bars, which he sold at bus stops, next he got capital and expanded it into a powerful brand. Guess what?
    Recently sold it for billions of dollars!

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #McDonalds is an Agri-food business. It is worth over $140bn [worth more than 90% of African countries],
    #Nestle is an agri-food business, started by a guy who sold milk. It is worth over $300bn (only Nigeria, Egypt, and SA bigger)!
    These agri-Foods businesses, including Coca Cola, Pepsi, employ hundreds of thousands of people.
    They were all started by entrepreneurs, just like you today.
    It is time to innovate around the agriculture products grown in our countries. It will lift incomes, create jobs, and generate wealth.

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tsekohol Denison writes,

    Great..

    I have done this research already.

    Value addition is the way out because some farm produce has more than 3 to 6 companies.

    Crops like,

    Cassava, yam, orange, pineapple, rice, watermelon, maize, pepper, and more.

    These crops are grown here in my locality.

    I have done deep research on them and companies that can be birth if we pay little attention to value addition.

    Thank you Chief for reason this way… God bless.

    #BYOB:Be Your Own Boss

    My reply,
    The term “value add” or “beneficiation”, is actually not in the language of entrepreneurs. We use the word “innovation”:
    Until the @Real Entrepreneurs begin to innovate with raw materials (including minerals, and ag products), there will never be sustainable prosperity.

    ThinkInnovation.
    An American entrepreneur called Kellogg took maize cobs, and roasted them:
    He called it “cornflakes”. He launched an Agrifood business, which today is worth $20bn!

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Hassan Taiwo writes,

    Great..

    I have done this research already.

    Value addition is the way out because some farm produce has more than 3 to 6 companies.

    Crops like,

    Cassava, yam, orange, pineapple, rice, watermelon, maize, pepper, and more.

    These crops are grown here in my locality.

    I have done deep research on them and companies that can be birth if we pay little attention to value addition.

    Thank you Chief for reason this way… God bless.

    #BYOB:Be Your Own Boss

    My reply,
    So you are a “beauty-prenuer”?
    Great:
    You know for instance that perfumes are made from agricultural products like sugar cane, and vanilla.
    The most expensive ingredient in perfume comes from a type of vanilla grown in Tahiti.
    #Think Innovation, use the agricultural produce of your country to create new businesses!

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Reflection:
    Imagine if we had Innovation Centers in every African country which just focused on showing students and entrepreneurs the innovations [as well as how they are produced] using raw materials [agric produce, and minerals] from their own countries.
    You can even set these up Online.
    Who will take up my challenge?

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Austin Uzim writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa adhesive sir. Adhesive!! In the South East Nigeria, we have over 20,000 artisans who travel to China to buy a a gum we call adhesive. This is what they use to glue shoes and sandals in Aba market.

    There is no single factory in South East Nigeria where Adhesive is produced. Do you know the place adhveise comes from? From CASSAVA. The onkyvraw material needed to produce adhesive is from starch in cassava.

    So my friend and I have acquired a plant in Kogi state that can peel cassava, squeeze and produce starch. What is standing in the gap is a capital of about $50,000 To start operation. Otherwise, we believe in this project.

    My reply,
    I have my eye on you, Austin!!!

    When you finally go public, I’m going to buy your stock, and just sit back and watch my money become billions!

    Reply
  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tatenda Tawonezvi writes,

    I was flipping through the Annual Reports for Unilever then saw you on the Board of Directors – inspiration stuff. Definitely the People aspect is strong for Unilever.

    My reply,
    You will never hear me talk about something I don’t know.
    I’m on the board of the best foods company in the world:
    Unilever!
    Proud of that great company.
    “Freely I have received (by the Grace of God), and so freely I share with you”—the lessons and practices I have learnt.

    Reply
  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Pause:

    When we went to the Supreme Court to argue for our license, the lead lawyer [A private advocate that was highly respected, and has since died] representing the other side had an incredibly aggressive style, and began to attack me personally in his presentation. He even used superlatives and called me a crook!

    During the break, I complained to our own lawyer for not standing up to him and objecting.
    I will never forget the response of our legal advisor and one of the greatest lawyers I ever met:

    “We are taught in law school that people who have no case, or cannot put up a better alternative position on an issue, will bang their fists on the table and make as much noise as possible to try and distract the judges. Some people will even jump on the table and screech like wild animals when they are losing an argument.
    So be cool; everyone watching [particularly the judges] knows he is making a fool of himself. You have won this case.”

    If you suggest something, and all the opponents to that suggestion can do is scream and shout and call you names, threaten you with violence and even death—they are conceding that you are smarter than them!

    Reply
  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Reflection:

    “I asked George Bush for investment, and I got McDonalds!” Complained the former Egyptian President. He was clearly hoping to get a manufacturing business.
    In truth Mubarak did not really understand economics, because he did not fully understand the impact of an investment like McDonalds. All he saw was a restaurant selling hamburgers. He did not see a huge Agri-Business that brought jobs, and created demand for wheat and other agricultural produce in the economy.
    I remember listening to the Vice President Of Coca Cola, Carl Ware 25 years ago, explaining how many farmers were employed in supporting his product:
    “We are an Agro food business supporting over 100,000 African farmers.”

    Even the guy selling potato chips to kids is part of a Agri-Foods ecosystem.

    Reply
  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    David Fincham writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa Africa needs to develop Tilapia at scales which will not only provide Africa with enough fish but also the world. Africa also needs to protect and enhance its marine resources instead of just selling off fishing rights. Fish should be our most valued, farmed and value added protein source.

    My reply,
    Whilst I totally agree with you, I also want you to realize that nothing will happen until you personally decide to do something.
    The reason you see a problem is usually because there is something in you screaming to provide a solution.
    This is how great entrepreneurs emerge.
    Get into Tilapia David. And whilst you are at it, join some of the great initiatives being pursued to deal with the challenge on protecting Marine Fishing resources. There is a group you can find on line who are actually setting up a headquarters in Seychelles to do just that. They need you!

    Reply
  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Augustus Akpan writes,

    Simple food processing and packaging tech is crucial for local farmers in Nigeria. Over 50% of fresh farmer’s produce are lost daily.

    My reply,
    What you say is true.
    Now what are you going to do [personally] as an entrepreneur to turn this into a business opportunity?

    Last year, I went to Israel and was approached by a young entrepreneur who had never been to Africa in his life. He said exactly what you just said, THEN, he showed me an invention for which he was looking for partners. It was absolutely brilliant, and immediately I put him in touch with young people in Africa!
    His company was called AMAIZE.

    #Herein is the key of this story:
    Challenges don’t end.
    Entrepreneurs see these challenges, and find a solution, which makes them wealthy.
    Post harvest losses in Africa is a problem being tackled quietly by many young entrepreneurs, in Africa and beyond. I have met many of them on this platform.

    Next time you see a problem, rub your hands together! Become part of the solution to that problem!

    Reply
  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Erdi Tesfamichael writes,

    Watching from Eritrea. Great discussion indeed.

    My reply,
    I’m so excited about the developments in your country over the last few months.
    I recently authorized our business development team to make an investment proposal for your country.
    If it works out, I will definitely visit you.

    Reply
  18. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ibe Chris Chidi writes,

    Why is Mr Masayiwa not considering Nigeria for investment

    My reply,
    I love investing in Nigeria.
    Our biggest investments this year will be in Nigeria. I cannot invest enough in Nigeria, I love the place!
    BUT!
    It’s not about me, it’s about you. This platform is to engage and encourage you to become an excellent entrepreneur who will not only invest in Nigeria, but all over Africa, in time.
    It will help link you up with friends, and potential partners from all over Africa, and the world.
    Just read where people were watching from!
    It’s amazing!
    I hope you guys are doing deals with each other!!!

    Reply
  19. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Edgar Jones writes,

    Dr. Strive with your friend Dr. Adesina are my inspiration in Africa. I have started my two agribusiness private companies in Mozambique (Mozambique Afrifoods and Inputs; AgriDev – Agriculture Development) agro process and Inputs supply, marking linkages are our priority in Mozambique. Remember Dr. Strive Masiyiwa I have started this businesses due your inspiration I am very proud to know you energy and enthusiasm vision for our African Agriculture. Greetings from Mozambique

    My reply,
    Thank you!
    I have made a commitment to visit Mozambique. I want to come and see you guys. I’m so impressed by the number of friends there.

    Reply
  20. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ekua Woode Sam-pennie writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa I moved back home to Ghana to start my natural skincare business. And after a few years of wading through institutional challenges. Its finally taking off.

    My reply,
    This is true entrepreneurship!
    This is going to be a great success for you.

    The founder of Sundail who is originally from Liberia is a friend of mine. Look them up. It’s now a multi billion dollar business.

    Hopefully I can put you in touch with them so that you can be inspired, and perhaps get some guidance.

    He also owns Essence Magazine.
    Someone in my team will reach out to you!

    Reply
  21. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #SeizeTheOpportunity!

    After I left the meeting in Davos, and was waiting to get into the car, someone asked me to stop. He was a senior executive from one of the biggest Tech companies in Silicon Valley. He told me they had watched the whole thing:
    “This is exciting! Show us how we can help Africa’s young Agri-preneurs?!”
    He was talking about YOU!
    That is why I went. I wanted to create opportunities for you!
    Two years ago, I met the head of this company [one of the richest men on planet earth] with Kofi Annan, in Davos, and we discussed why it was important for us to drive support towards young Africans in Agri-preneurship, including farming.
    Don’t be left behind. Now is the time to focus, and sharpen what you are doing!

    Reply
  22. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ibrahim Wasiu writes,

    @strive you need to see this sir, a lady doing great agric and philanthropic stuffs in Africa
    Check here
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XytEhAzXdxo

    My reply,

    #Everyone needs to see this!

    She should have been with us at the Davos Meeting.
    I have asked my team to reach out to her and the lady from Mozambique, so that they can join me in our next discussion.

    Reply
  23. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Stanley Mutale writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa we have a Campaign in Zambia called my farm myswag. We have also Launch what we are calling YEFI Fund Campaign to De-risk Agribusiness.

    Check our website http://www.yefi.co.zm

    My reply,
    I’m really impressed by this initiative.
    Well done.
    It is really difficult for me to accept specific invitations to prearranged meetings. I will ask my team to send you a message from me which you can read to your colleagues.

    Reply
  24. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Pause:
    LETS ENTREPRENEUR!!!!

    How you respond to a problem that you see, is what defines whether or not you are an entrepreneur or just a political commentator!

    You recall my Townhall meeting in Germany late last year, when a German official said he had travelled by road through several several African countries, and had not seen any tractors?
    It bugged me a lot!

    “We must do something. It could even be an opportunity for Ecofarmer. “ I told my Ecofarmer team.
    “Find me a solution to this problem, now!”
    I’m not a government, but that has never stopped me to do anything, I think needs to be done.

    We too have been working on an “Vaya Tractor” solution similar to Hello Tractor. I have now told our team to partner with Hello Tractor, and expanding the concept quickly across Africa.
    Yes, there are problems, and will be until the Lord comes. For now we must find solutions for the problems of our own generation.
    Come on, guys, let’s get “entrepreuring” !!!
    [new word, I think, first introduced by me!]

    Reply
  25. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Reflection:
    One of the most exciting Agri-business solutions I have seen in recent years is Twigga Foods in Kenya.
    Absolutely amazing!
    These guys [founder from the US] buy vegetables and fruit for informal markets in urban areas. They bring them into the cities early in the morning, and then deliver them to their customers. It is simple but behind the scenes it is a highly sophisticated operation which includes world class processes. Investors have poured money into this venture. I met one of their investors in Singapore; he was a billionaire from Philippines!
    “Provision always follows true vision”!
    Twigga Foods will one day be a Pan African franchise, and probably face competitors. Africa’s cities are going to increase 10x in size over the next 50 years!
    I could invest in this type of smart business and retire!
    Come on guys…let’s entrepreneur!

    Reply
  26. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    # Breaking News!

    I am excited to share that yesterday I was elected to become one of the board of trustees of the National Geographic Society. This is an amazing organization which does amazing work and I am very honoured to have the opportunity to play my part.

    Over the years, some of you may have seen National Geographic photos of people and places all over the world, but part of its organizational mission is also to partner with local scientists, conservation experts and government officials (amongst others across the African continent and the world) to conserve and safeguard “some of the Earth’s last wild places”.

    Some of places you may know about include Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, the Okavango River Basin and Pendjari National Park in Benin… Maybe you know of others.

    # National Geographic also gives grants to scientists, educators and storytellers around the world each year. Be sure to look them up if you work in this area!

    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/strive-masiyiwa-elected-to-national-geographic-society-board-of-trustees-300786091.html

    Reply

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