Pause for reflection: This is how we begin!

__Do you have what it takes?

Last weekend I was in Copenhagen to attend a big conference where I was a judge in a pitching contest for social entrepreneurs. My team is working on the video which will be posted on this platform in due course. Later on I met a Danish entrepreneur who has moved to Kenya to set up a ride-hailing business called Mondo. I’m definitely interested in investing, because of his extraordinary drive and passion…

He quit his job working for an American investment bank where he had a great career, and left one of the most secure, prosperous countries in the world, Denmark, to go and start a business in Africa.

This is what he said to me: “When I visited Kenya, I noticed that many people really struggled for transport, particularly to get back to their rural homes.”

He did not come looking for me. We had already heard about him, and I asked to see him after seeing what he was doing. There are a lot of people even on this platform who have received calls from me and other investors that follow my blog!

Aha!

# To be a great entrepreneur today, you must be driven by a hunger and desire to meet the needs of people in a sustainable way that generates enough profit to interest those with capital to invest.

# True entrepreneurship is sacrificial. This is what risk-taking is all about. You must be prepared to leave your comfort zone, and “rough it for a while.” And you must see all obstacles that you might meet as mere stepping stones on your way to the top.

__If what you are trying fails, and you lose the money, you get up, dust yourself, and try again.

Here’s another big read, this time from some young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong:

https://www.scmp.com/tech/leaders-founders/article/2109032/how-high-school-dropout-big-ideas-founded-gogovan-hong-kongs

You know I was in the region just a few weeks ago, and I’m on my way back there in a few weeks. I will be in Beijing and Singapore.

Remember my comment on the @EntrepreneurialTourist!

I want you to read this story carefully. It’s called “How a high-school dropout with big ideas founded GoGoVan, Hong Kong’s first US$1bn start-up” …

After you read it, I want you to list five lessons that you have learned. No prizes, because this is a very serious exercise. The lessons you learn will help you decide whether or not you can make it as an entrepreneur, or should rather stay put in your job.

Finally, reading the story reminded me of some things that happened when I was also starting out in business as a young entrepreneur:

#1. I approached a friend who had returned with me from the UK to invest in our startup in Zimbabwe. I was desperate for money, and knew he had saved some money whilst working in the UK.

His reply still rings in my ears to this day:

“I cannot do something so foolish! I’m saving money to buy a house. My dream is to own a nice car, which I now have, and a house in one of the suburbs. I have a fantastic job with an international company.

“What’s wrong with you, man?” he asked. Have you lost your mind?!”

It was a stinging rebuke, but it steeled my resolve!

“I would not build a house in any of those fancy suburbs,” I told him. Soon after I solved the problem by selling my own car!

Years later he approached me for a job, and I declined. Not because I was vengeful but because I don’t hire people with that kind of mentality, if I manage to spot them in time!

#2. Another friend of mine got engaged whilst we were starting a business together. He was a hard working guy and his girlfriend was a nice girl. So one day whilst we were having coffee, after a long day, she joined us. I could see they wanted to tell me something:

“When we get married we will need a house, and some nice furniture,” she began.

“I know some places where you can rent a furnished flat,” I replied.

“We want to own our own house,” she said, then added: “You guys have money, and if you distribute it, there is enough for us to get our start.”

I did not reply. I just drank my coffee quietly, and listened to their excited dreams.

What would you have done, in such circumstances?

There is the reply of an entrepreneur, and if it makes you uncomfortable, then you just learnt something about yourself.

__Listen to me, and listen well: This is the fork in the road!

If you have visions to be an entrepreneur, understand that this is not the type of person who goes on to set up and run a successful enterprise.

The type of person who sets up a successful business is like the guy from Hong Kong or the young man I met from Denmark!

__Africa has thousands of them, and with or without support, they will make it!

Their mindset is totally different! To them, it would be better to lose those savings having tried to pursue their dream than to drive around in the latest Merc, or to build a house in the best suburb of your biggest city.

The choice is always yours.

End.

 

 
by 3 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.

3 thoughts on “Pause for reflection: This is how we begin!

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    The problem you are seeing — whether it is lack of capital or lack of opportunities — will have to be solved… by you! It is part of the entrepreneurship game.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    One of the greatest explorers ever is a man called Robert Swan. This remarkable man has undertaken expeditions on foot to both Poles! He is still alive.

    His most famous quote is: “THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR PLANET IS THE BELIEF THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL SAVE IT.”

    Unfortunately, this also applies to a lot of other things… our neighborhoods, our communities, cities, our villages, schools, countries even.

    I really want to express my deepest appreciation to the thousands of Zimbabweans from all walks of life, including the First Lady of Zimbabwe, who have joined in our campaign to clean up our cities in order to stop the spread of cholera. These people saw that unless they themselves got up and did something to help, nothing would be done, as well or as effectively.

    Then there are the challenges facing our whole planet… Let’s all get involved there too, at the very least, by finding small practical things we can do (or stop doing!) to help. I am sure you have heard this before by now: There is NO Planet B!

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kelly writes,

    Dear Trainee elder,
    When you find time, could you dedicate a post that encourages startups to bootstrap until they are post-proof-of-concept-stage for their business Ideas(If it’s the right thing to do)

    Since I have noticed a trend in Nairobi whereby #Afriprenuers give up if they fail to secure funding from investors. This is also from your series on Moses and the stick. ‘what is in your hand’

    Even if it means running a short hustle to fund the main hustle or setting aside part of your salary (for those of us with a day) to inject into the business and make the first sell or at least get market response.
    That is how I managed to ‘JUST START’ my real estate listing website http://vacantspace.co.ke/

    My reply,
    I’m going to re-post what you just posted!

    Reply

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