Pause: Identify a need if you want to succeed as a true entrepreneur 

__The right to dignity and a decent life. 

A while back I was given a briefing book before one of my #Afripreneur town halls. It included some background on the moderator, called Fatima. In one interview, I read she had been asked: “If you could give your 18-year old self some advice, what would it be?”

Her answer was: “Take pride in and ownership of your unique gifts. There’s great beauty in being different and great beauty in imperfection. It’s okay and actually a wonderful thing not to think like the rest of the world.”

So what do you “think” about that?

I want to focus our attention in this next series on entrepreneurial opportunities in rural areas and ways to see old problems in new ways, “not to think like the rest of the world”! That is why I am calling the upcoming series #Re-ImagineRural!

You are all aware, for instance, that millions of people across Africa still do not have the very basics of life — clean running water, electricity, and sanitation. Do you know how many people in Africa do not have access to a modern toilet?

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice,” said Nelson Mandela. “It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life…”

We need fresh new minds to come into the conversation about solving the world’s great challenges, and this is where all of you#Afripreneurs on this platform come in.

Let’s talk.

The other day a friend of mine from India who used to be Chairman of Microsoft India, sent me an interesting article on a program launched by PM Narendra Modi, one of the most inspirational leaders today. It was titled “World’s biggest nationwide toilet building campaign is creating new markets in India.” Here is the link:

Another friend invited me to a football match at the weekend whilst I was in London. After the game we had coffee, and he asked me what are the biggest entrepreneurial opportunities I would love to do, even as a philanthropist.

“Right now?”


“Sanitation,” I replied. “I would like to build toilets like Modi is doing in India. This is probably bigger than electricity going forward.”

Then I added, “I’m satisfied we’ll have power for everyone within 20 years. The technology is now available. We don’t yet have a clear path for providing toilets with running water for the poor.”

Marco smiled: “I’m working in that area. We have registered a patent and already installed 1000+ successful systems all around SADC countries!”


“Yes. Can I make a pitch to you?”

Marco is an African from South Africa who once worked for us, before going off on his own. He explained that their patented flush toilet system can go into homes, schools, hospitals, hotels and more, all without connecting to the power grid or local water mains…

“Come tomorrow. I will make time, because this is really important. If you have the right idea, I will help you raise as much capital as you need.”

As we parted, I told him about an article I just got from the entrepreneur in India, then I added:

“Bill Gates is so keen on this subject he ran a global competition for someone to design a new toilet system that can be deployed cheaply and yet have all the modern benefits. It was a global innovation challenge. It’s time to move on from pit latrines.”

“I’m going to China in November to see the winning designs!” I said.

“It’s a symposium on technologies for sanitation systems so you should come” I told him. “If we find a solution for clean toilets with running water, we will solve one of the biggest problems in the world today.”

“And if your idea is as good as you say, then you are going to be a billionaire!”

Now read the article on India and tell me what you think about the entrepreneurial opportunity.

And why don’t you also share your own thoughts on “What advice you would give your own 18-year old self?” so we can all take some notes.

One bit of advice I would have given myself is this: Don’t think just because you are “only” 18 (or younger…) you can’t solve some of the world’s greatest challenges affecting the very dignity of human existence!

Wow? Yes, wow. Get going.

To be continued. . .

by 5 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.

5 thoughts on “Pause: Identify a need if you want to succeed as a true entrepreneur 

  1. Stephen Kamugasa

    I would advise my-18-year-old-self thus: “We live for others, not for ourselves.” This is probably the most liberating discovery, in the sense that by living for others is both free to see and listen clearly. Seeing things clearly is, in my opinion, the beginning of understanding. BTW: I like the sanitation idea. Please keep us posted.

  2. Cialisonlinepharmacy

    I don”t know why NYC doesn”t have an all-electric bus fleet at this point. For that matter why not an all-electric fleet, period, including sanitation trucks? Bloomberg was touting us as “The Green Apple. That should be more than just an empty slogan.

  3. Evans Mutenyo

    Greetings Sir.Strive,am an avid reader of your posts on Facebook.I there’s a post you shared about the shared economy concept back in July. It was like our minds are thinking the same disruption. I have been doing my research about Shared Economy,Gig Economy and Crowd funding concepts.I have come with a comprehensive business plan about the same with data backed. I have been in delivery business for the past three years but i was at the same time how i come introduce a blue ocean in this sector, i thank God because finally we are there. I would like you to give me your way forward of how i can pitch it to you. And even if you don’t invest in it we shall forge ahead.Although i wanted to continue making history together. I have made you a non-Executive Board member so anytime you are in East Africa please come and attend one meeting because your chair will always be left blank until you turn up one day.

  4. St. PetersBell Jigo

    Thank you Mr. Masiyiwa for sharing this refreshing as well as thought provoking moments. A very simple but highly revolutionary move towards global sanitation. Brilliant, I must say.

    And now, to my 18 year old self. What advise would I give to me. Straight up. “Be fearless. You dream because you achieve.” Growing up I had great dreams to change the world, but for fear of not making sense. Today, realizing that no dream actually makes any sense to anyone other than you- the dreamer- until you convince others to put on your “eyes” to see as you do, which happens after the dream is executed, I am daring it all. Life is interesting.

    St. PetersBell Jigo


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