#EagleArise: The art of unlocking value (Part 2)

__An exciting case study of “4IR” in Africa. 

Some of you have asked me to explain the strategy behind the recent decision by one of our companies, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ), to split itself into two: EWZ and Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe (CSZ). This is actually a very good question, and shows that some of you are now in the senior class.

How I answer the question will be a little difficult because of the rules of the stock exchange, so I will not answer anything which might violate those rules.

EWZ is unusual amongst the companies in our group, because it is the only one listed on a stock exchange. I have explained how and why I made that decision 20 years ago. Recap: I wanted to raise money to expand the business.

EWZ is not the holding company of our group. It is actually a subsidiary of Econet in which we hold about 50%. The rest of EWZ is held by the general public, including institutional investors. It’s the largest company in Zimbabwe with interests limited only to what we do in the Zimbabwe market.

As a subsidiary of EWZ, Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe includes the following businesses:

1. Cassava FinTech:

– EcoCash (mobile money services)

– Steward Digital Bank

– International Remittances

– Payment services (TPS, PayBay and Payment Gateway) These are “B2B” companies.

2. Cassava InsurTech:

– EcoSure Funeral Insurance

– Moovah Auto Insurance (one of the largest vehicle insurance company in the country now!)

– Health insurance (This has been partially launched through the Hospital Cash Back Service)

– Education insurance!

I’m very excited about our new #Educationproduct which will be available in January. The concept is simple: If a family loses a breadwinner, we will pick up the cost of educating children until they finish high school (secondary school).

3. Cassava On Demand Services (formerly Cumii Technologies):

– Technites and Tasknites App (Technites is the single largest creator of employment in Zimbabwe)

– Vaya Ride App (our own Uber-type ride hailing service, just launched last week!)

– KariGo App (transport services ranging from van deliveries to large cargo deliveries. It will be launched soon in Zimbabwe, currently in Nigeria only).

4. Cassava eCommerce:

– Ownai Online Market Place (a free online classified service soon to be relaunched with an upgraded platform)

– Cassava E-store

– Cassava store fronts.

5. Cassava HealthTech (formerly called EcoHealth):

– Maisha Medik includes: Maisha Medik Symptom Checker, Maisha Medik Health Tips, Maisha Medik Dial-a-Doc, and Maisha Medik Tele-Health.

6. Cassava EduTech:

– Ruzivo online learning

– Akello eBooks

– Muzinda Hub (coding school)

– Elevate

7. Cassava AgriTech:

– EcoFarmer includes: Information Services, Financial Services, Technical Support Services, Communication Services and the Ecofarmer Trading Platform! A few weeks ago, I wrote here about all the benefits Zimbabwean smallholder farmers get with their EcoFarmer club card.

Yes! This is a lot of companies! Now let me share some secrets that few people know, except those paid to track what we do (market analysts):

# Last year this little business (CSZ) generated revenue of over US$250m in Zimbabwe.

# Every year it doubles in size.

# It is the single largest employment creator in Zimbabwe… about 1,000 directly and 100,000 indirectly.

# It touches the lives of more people than any other business in the country.

# Our insurance arm, EcoSure, is the largest insurance company in the country in terms of policies.

# Our digital bank, Steward Bank, has more than 800,000 customers.

# 80% of Zimbabwe’s 1.5m smallholder farmers use EcoFarmer.

# 1m kids access educational support through Ruzivo (online learning). Teachers use the platform, too!

# One of my daughters (who now sits on the CSZ board) developed the education platform as a master’s thesis whilst studying in the US!

For many people, CSZ is a “hidden” company because they see everything it does as “Econet, the mobile company.” The fact is, our digital product and services business has operated independently from the telecoms company for years, with its own head office and board of directors.

We have so many great #Afripreneurial innovators amongst our #4IR #people. As I said last week, we study to do!

Senior Class, what do you see? Let’s continue the conversation we started last week:

__Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe does not need money. It has money! So why list it?

I will answer in Part 3 of the series but see if you can figure it out.

Every industrial revolution needs a learning revolution, too!

To be continued. . .

by 14 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.

14 thoughts on “#EagleArise: The art of unlocking value (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    You do not need to watch or read the news to know that many people around the world, in our home communities and on this platform too, are really suffering and struggling with challenges of one kind or another. At such times, it is so important not to let yourself get down or frozen in worry. “Hard things are hard,” as President Obama said a few years ago.

    If that describes where you are right now, just stay focused on your vision, dust yourself off if you need to, and then move onward and upward. And if you are a person of faith, you know exactly what to do.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    “No matter how big our (African) countries may look, we become big when we see and present ourselves as a continental economy. That doesn’t mean we give up our national sovereignty but we need to work together…”

    Africa is a $2.5tn economy!

    Here’s a link to a brief CNBC Africa interview I gave last week at an important investor’s conference in Johannesburg: https://www.cnbcafrica.com/videos/2018/10/26/strive-masiyiwa-bemoans-lack-of-investment-into-africas-telecoms-infrastructure/

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    We also have Cassava Smartech companies in 20 other African countries by the way! It has often been described by people who understand our business as the “Tencent of Africa.” Our team have even developed a platform similar to “WeChat” which is set to debut in Zimbabwe later this year! Shhhh…

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 5.

    The CEO of a large American insurance group once called and asked to meet me the next time he was in London. When we met for lunch, he pushed a document to me. It was written “EcoSure Zimbabwe.”

    “If you ever consider selling this, give me a call.”

    It was a compliment, and it helped validate what I was seeing!

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Maudly Gold writes,

    Vaya Ride App! We have been waiting for this sir.

    My reply,
    Vaya Lift our Ride Hailing and Car Sharing App, is about to start recruiting drivers in most African countries. Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, are due to start in the next few weeks. If you are an entrepreneur and have a car this is one way to get into business.
    They will also be adding a service which requires either a motor cycle or bicycle. This is a Delivery service.

    Keep you ear to the ground, but don’t ask here because that is not what this platform is for.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Chnenye writes,

    Almost every sector of the economy is being taken care of by your companies. It is almost like you are into everything. If the word diversification means anything, I am seeing it here. I am thinking hard on “we study to do” If EWZ interest is limited to Zimbabweans market, then Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe is supposed to be the eagle. Its structure and tentacles are expected to go global with the whole of African continent a target. “A learning revolution indeed”

    My reply,
    Not really..
    When I was in Indonesia a few weeks ago, I visited a company called GoJek founded by a young guy who is only 34 years old [Nadiem Makarim]. They are one of the hottest companies in the world today. They already have 17 services on their platform similar to Cassava Smartech compared to our seven!

    A company like Tencent or Alibaba brings that many innovations to market in a month!
    The challenge in Africa is that we are not yet driving enough innovation in most of our businesses.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    In business an “idea” is only “stolen” when there is a breach of contractual arrangement or when there is a breach of registered patent.
    If you travel to America and see a service which you think could work in your country, then someone else launches a similar service, it does not constitute theft on the part of the other party! For you to allege a theft is actual slander for which if you were sued, you would be terribly embarrassed, and also have to pay money.
    If you launch any service or product which is not protected by patent, expect competition.
    If you take a proposal to a large company, or potential investor, make sure you ask them to sign what is known as a “Non Circumvent” or a “Non Disclosure”. Only then can you appear before a court claiming that they “stole” your idea. A judge will deal with you very harshly if you make such a claim without showing where a breach occurred.
    The moment you launch a venture expect fierce competition to emerge from others, even if you are the first guy in the world to launch such a service.
    We have just launched Ride Hailing service in Zimbabwe. Does this mean Uber should accuse us of “theft” of their idea!
    Then Uber would have no competitor in the world. But the truth is in every country, “fast followers” have emerged, some with even better products.

    If you have been thinking about something, and you see someone else execute it ahead of you, it is not called theft, but procrastination on your part!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Igbomiye writes,

    Good news Sir! My young friend, learning a lot from you here has successfully pioneered a successful operation on a Conjoined Twin Boys at Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital, Abuja. Their parents were bewildered, hence they abandoned the babies and ran away due to the cost of the operation as they’re just peasant farmers struggling through life.

    No way to post the photos here.

    My reply,
    Absolutely phenomenal!
    Wow! Wow! Wow!
    Please tell us the name of this surgeon and his team.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Othiel writes,

    I am confused as to launching the agrotech start up I and my team have been working on it if we should all just dump it and graduate from the university first. We’re all below 21 ! And our research was well planned and designed. I even skipped class for a few days… I really am confused and the main reason is because finding investors in Nigeria is hard especially since we’re all “children” as the guys at Bank of Agriculture said. So that’s it; zero funds, a well executed system(theoretically) and years of potential (which everyone has) is all we have. Like I’ve been saying, we’re all confused. I need advice, please!!

    My reply,
    Don’t add to the confusion by “dumping university”, and skipping classes!
    Any chance for you requires you to be as educated as you can be—there is no option, and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise!

    I’m glad you and your friends are developing an AgroTech start up. My daughter did the same when she was at university, and even went on to do a Masters just to help her start up venture.

    Raising money as I have shown on this platform is a lot more than going to a bank [that is elementary knowledge in this game]. This post is teaching you about one of the ways entrepreneurs raise money. Study it and other methods, and master them.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tinashe writes,

    My nephew was robbed and murdered when he gave some men a lift in Epworth in September and many are murdered amd robbed in cars by those who give them rides. I saw Vaya takes safety precautions and background checks for its drivers(driver’s licence validity, police clearance, medical exam, vehicle ownership etc). This will definitely save lives. Thanx Dr Strive

    My reply,
    First of all my deepest condolences. Very sad.

    Your comments are absolutely correct.
    The Vaya Africa team [now operating in 7 countries] to recruit drivers, is working painstakingly to ensure that we check backgrounds, and have details of each driver.
    Personally I want to see more women drivers, particularly for carrying other women and children.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    This is the place I comment.


    As an entrepreneur, on many occasions I have had initiatives for my country Zimbabwe, which could have created tens of thousands of new jobs. When I have discussed them with either investors or banks, they have turned me away, saying:
    “We don’t want to violate the sanctions in your country.”
    I have documents and emails from bankers and investors. I tried so hard to persuade some of them, often suggesting that they are not interpreting the sanctions correctly.

    In my case I was forced to go to China to secure loans to support our Zimbabwean businesses. But this was not always ideal. I have spoken about it publicly on many occasions even in the US and China itself.

    It is not right that we as business should have to work under such conditions, when all we want is to create jobs and livelihoods for ordinary people.

    Now, if Zimbabwe had been a person who committed a crime, for which they went to prison, would you not say 20 years is enough?
    Zimbabwe has served its prison time. It’s time for the country to be given a chance to get back on its feet.

    I fled my country when assassins were sent to kill me. I had been tipped off by someone in the Mugabe government who was related to me. Even when I left the country, there were other attempts to kidnap me in SA. It has been 18 and a half years. Only I have the right to decide when to come home.

    My executives [in Zimbabwe] were arrested and held in leg irons for 16 days. I endured all the persecutions, including the bombing and shutting down of my newspaper business.
    No one stood in our corner, or expressed indignation, perhaps because there was no Twitter?

    Now will the end of Western sanctions end all our problems?
    Absolutely not!
    As I have said, no one should be under any illusion that this is not going to be very, very tough, as many of the issues to be tackled are due to bad policies going back decades including corruption.

    Let’s not allow the sanctions to be a crutch and stumbling block to some of the issues that need resolution.

    “My name is Strive Masiyiwa, and I’m with the suffering ordinary Zimbabweans who need to see jobs, livelihoods, and investment in our country.
    I call for an end to sanctions now.

    And I reiterate my call for people to work together in the national interest.”

    Intimidation and threats have never affected me. I stood up to Mugabe when most of those issuing threats by Twitter were either in diapers, or hiding, or even simply minding their own business.
    I did not rail at them, and never will or demand that they say only what I approve.


  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Zibusiso [thank you for your kind comment which I will not repeat]:

    The late Dr Joshua Nkomo loved me like a dear son. In the last years of his life he would just call for me, like a priest, and I would sit there quietly as he reminisced about his life. Sometimes I read him tracks from a little Bible I carried in my pocket. I keep a picture of him, in which I’m praying for him.

    At times I would go into his bedroom and listen to him as he lay there.

    Oftentimes he would fall asleep whilst talking and I would just sit there for however long and wait for him to wake up again. I never left even to go and come back.

    He once told me that there were so many things in the Unity Accord [that he signed to end the conflict] that he did not like. He gave me intimate details of his anguish that often led me to tears.

    “So why did you sign, baba?” I asked quietly.

    “I looked at the suffering of the people. You must always try to do something if you see your people suffering.”

    Again he said to me:
    “Don’t allow anger or bitterness to cloud your judgment. See I’m working with Mugabe.”

    Those words rung in my ears when I rushed to help end Cholera, not once but twice. It is what propelled me to rush to join the campaign to end the Ebola pandemic in West Africa. It propels me when I think of little Leah Sharibu’s plight in the hands of Boko Haram.

    As the cycle of his life ebbed to its end,
    I would often go to the hospital to see him with his wife, known affectionately as “Mafuyana”.

    “When he sees your face, he lights up despite the pain,”
    she told me once. “I can’t understand his love for you.”

    We did not come from the same tribe, nor were we related. He taught me everything about love of nation, and the African continent.

    And when he died, she made a special request to President Mugabe, which he granted despite the latter’s deep animosity towards me at the time.
    I did something at the Heroes Acre to commemorate our special relationship.
    Later I set up a scholarship in his memory, that has educated the most brilliant young people from Zimbabwe, and other nations since his death.

    # Joshua Nkomo is the greatest man I ever had the honor and privilege to know personally. If I can be just 10% to the mentor to you, that he was to me, then my life will be fulfilled considerably.

    “I looked at the suffering of the people. You must always try to do something if you see your people suffering.”

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    One more thing:

    One day I was having lunch at a restaurant near my home in SA, when I took an unusual phone call:

    The man on the phone, whom I had known for nearly 20 years, said this to me:
    “I have reliable information that they are planning to assassinate me within a matter of days. I need your help. I need to get out of the country immediately.”

    He was calm, but it was clear he felt a real and present threat to his life.

    I had been in a similar situation many years earlier when I too had to flee.

    I could have said “look this is dangerous for me, my family and my business. It’s none of my business. Why don’t you talk to so, and so!”

    I simply said, “I’m on it…”

    Within 12 hours, that man had crossed from Zimbabwe, to Botswana, and then into South Africa.
    I put him and his family up in one of my homes, a walking distance from where I lived.

    The name of that man is the late Morgan Tsvangirai, former leader of the MDC.

    They remained there from April 2008 until he returned home to Zimbabwe, at the end of that year, following a political settlement that allowed him to return home as the Prime Minister.

    It was not a secret that I had received him in my home. President Mugabe knew he was there, and so did President Mbeki, and the entire global community and media.

    I know that he would never have accepted any abuse of me by anyone from his party, or amongst his followers.

    I was not a member of his political party, and never have been. He always respected that I was my own man.

    He called me only once when he was in government, and it was to offer an apology over a reckless statement by one of his ministers who had attacked Econet in public.

    We never fought and we remained good friends. We were just not in the same vocation, and never had been. He was a politician and I m a businessman.

    What I did, I would have done for any one, who called me in the same way. And from any party, tribe or race.

    I have earned the right, and locus standi to say what I said:

    “It’s time to end the sanctions against Zimbabwe.
    And yes we must give President Emerson Munangagwa a chance because only he has the legal political mandate to lead the nation and command its resources, as well as engage with the global community.

    It was not politics, but even if it was, I have a right to also speak:

    Our economy is in deep and grave trouble. I studied economics. I don’t need to see fuel queues to get a diagnosis of the situation.

    The people are suffering.

    We are also fighting a pandemic called Cholera.

    No one will save our country for us, but ourselves.

    If a person does not agree with anything I said, I respect that, but don’t abuse me, until you demonstrate that you can also put everything on the line when called upon.

    Twitter is not a place to demonstrate courage and commitment to a nation and its people.


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