Pause: Throwing starfish back into the ocean

__A star that will light the future. 

As I said last week, now and again I will write about an inspiring initiative from someone on this platform. This is not meant to be a competition, but rather to help us encourage one another, and also to learn some principles which we can apply elsewhere.

Here is one from Joy Lewanika from Zambia. Joy writes:

“I visited a friend at UTH, because I heard that she was looking after a grandson who had been admitted in the children’s ward. When I got there I found that the boy who was in hospital has got severe Cerebral Palsy and has been like that for the last twelve years. He can’t walk, doesn’t talk and his grandmother has been caring for him all these years as his parents died not too long after he was born. In spite of knowing the grandmother for a number of years, I didn’t know that she had such a challenge as she is always smiling and upbeat about things (if you know what I mean). However, on that day in hospital I saw something in her eyes that touched my heart and I vowed to help in any little way that I could.”

“In addition to prayer,” she wrote a little later, “I offered to take the boy for his doctor’s appointments and physiotherapy sessions. Met a lady who has set up a school for disabled children, at physio, and now the boy is in school, funded by a group of my friends. This has given more time to granny attend to other matters. The boy is thriving in his new environment. I have made a lot of new friends and together we are looking at ways to elevate the life conditions of those who are needy.  Indeed, even just a little bit of help makes a difference!”

My reply:

What can I say?

That is the love of God!

You are blessed. Stay in touch.

Someone else on this platform told the story about a guy who used to go out every morning and pick up starfish stranded on the beach, and throw them back into the ocean, one by one. Another guy asked him, “How can helping just a few starfish, out of thousands, ever matter?”

“It matters to this ONE,” the guy replied calmly, returning another to the sea.

Anyone can blame a government, a local authority, or some rich people that don’t care. But as Joy shows us, there’s always something each one of us can do.

__Problems are only solved when one person decides to do something about it.

Do you see children on the street corner who should be in school? Well, by the time some government or authority even acts, maybe their life will have been condemned to crime.

When my wife and I started the Higher Life Foundation, it was not because we were rich. We just wanted to help a few orphans with school fees. At the time, we could barely afford to send our own child to a private school.

I am going to find Joy and her friends, and join their group, by making a small annual contribution. I will match whatever they contribute. Let’s go to the beaches, and throw starfish back into the ocean.

__There is a problem you saw today, and the reason it has been tugging at you is perhaps God wants to use you to do something great for someone, and after that, for your community, Africa, and the world.

The starfish that you will save is a STAR that will light the future.

To be continued. . .


by 16 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.

16 thoughts on “Pause: Throwing starfish back into the ocean

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    There were some truly remarkable comments on last week’s post. I really urge you all, once again, to read comments from your colleagues. I will continue to pick out some of them, and expand on the topic. So keep them coming.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    The big business story that caught my attention last week was the planned IPO of a company called Snapchat. The founder is only 26 years old. The company is expected to list at a valuation of about $26bn, making it almost twice the value of MTN. Snapchat has a turnover of less than $1bn, and makes huge losses (it has never made any money). Do you understand why? I do, and I will be looking to buy some shares myself!

    • Blessing Kamutema

      Thank you very much for the profound business eye openers once again. Im glad that by following your posts I got inspired to follow my dreams and right now I have,together with a partner, opened a Property Development Consultancy firm PropIcon Development Consultants (Pvt) Ltd. I hope to be serving you one day and remind you of your seed that germinated. Thank you and God bless you sir.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Alex Iheanacho wrote:

    My parents broke up even before I was born. My mother was pregnant when my father abandoned the union for cultural reasons and background differences.

    My maternal family which was meant to raise me hated me instead. I was massively abused by my grandma and my uncle. To save myself, I started sleeping everywhere else but home.

    I became a fugitive. I slept everywhere else ranging from markets to trees just to make sure I was away from the constant beating, cursing and hating I received from home.

    Before I was twelve, I had already turned to a full fledge junkie. To do away with me, my family sold me to a stranger who took me to Ghana. But as fate may have it, he abandoned me at Tudu park in Accra Ghana.

    With nothing but primary 3 education and 11600 cedis, I had to swim or sink and swim I did.

    I hawked everything you can imagine. I worked in public toilets, i parked refuse , i picked condemned metals from refuse dumps just to survive. At many instances, i fed from the dust bin though I wasn’t mad.

    Through it all I survived. I Came back to Nigeria but my mother threatened to kill me with her bare hands since i had refused to die.

    But above it all, i went back. Passed my waec, read accounting from the polytechnic and later proceeded to university of Benin where I graduated with hons in applied eco comics and statistics.

    I have decided to dedicate my life to traveling the world to teach people how to recreate their personal and financial lives using using “psychology of possibility”.

    I have authored some books that are awaiting publication including my author biography titled: “from streets to stardom: how I moved from being a street junkie to become everything I was told I couldn’t be”.

    I have also decided to start a movement called ” from streets to stardom foundation” to help send hawkers across Africa back to school or help them start a small scale business that will keep them off the roads.

    Though I don’t know how I’m going to achieve this tall dream, your stories have given me references and your life has given me a strong model.

    I believe in human possibility and I will die helping a whole lot of people who will let me, be the best they can be.

    I so much believe that while some chose the streets, the streets chose a whole lot more.

    The miracles we have had isn’t for us alone, it is to help lesser men come up higher. Everyone has greatness in him, but they might have had circumstances beat it out of them and all they will need is a gentle nudge from a willing soul.

    We might not save the world, no one can. But we can save a soul because we all can.

    Thank you Dr Strive, men have lived because you lived!

    My Reply

    Alex Ihanaecho,
    What an amazing, amazing testimony!
    It’s too long for me to reprint, but I really appreciated it. I’m inspired by you, and hope to meet you one day!

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Lasbury writes:

    Kindly write a follow up on this to help us understand your decision to buy into a company that has never made money.

    My reply,
    You are clearly intrigued by the idea that Snapchat, a company which has very little revenue, and no profit, can be worth more than a company which makes billions of dollars in profit. There is nothing wrong with it.

    You are wise to seek to understand why this is so:
    When I went to primary school my teachers taught me that 1+2=3. But when I got to High School, I was taught that 2x+3=10; now they called it Algebra. At University it became even more complex.
    The moral of the lesson, is that there is nothing wrong with knowing things at an elementary level, but you must push on to get a better understanding of more complex issues.
    As an entrepreneur, you need to be current at all times on how things are valued, and always remembering that it is constantly changing.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Fasoranti writes:

    This is so brilliant. I can relate with these stories and the much blessings though Dr. Strive’s inspirational teaching.

    On one of such posts, I related that I start a social enterprise last year and I am working from a rural community in Nigeria to help them use what they have (e.g inherent skills, innate dreams, indigenous knowledge and community resources) to create the life, business and beauty they have ever desired.

    And I was so surprised when George Ogar and Mosunmola chatted me up. George traveled all the way more than 12 hours to help us create the first ever bamboo solar lamps. George is going to sell more sunlight to Africa and to the rest of the world.

    Both of them saved more starfishes in this rural community. The future is brighter because of you.

    These two people are creating wealth and networking with great minds being the platform that Dr. strive has created.

    I am overexcited and see limitless possibilities coming out of Africa in the next few years. Thank you, Dr. Strive for obeying the call and giving all within you to bless the world.

    Going all out to save more Starfish.

    My reply,
    What you guys did is wonderful. This year I hope to have an opportunity to meet George.

    Transforming our rural areas across Africa, is one of the most exciting opportunities for your generation.
    Whenever I travel to rural areas, my mind is flooded for days with entrepreneurial ideas that could completely transform the lives of people living there.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Wilson writes:

    All Along I Felt Worthless Because Activities I Have Been Engaging Are Not Profitable, I Have A Youth Football Team Targeting Children In Slums And Currently Making A Magazine To Educate Boys And Girls On HIV/AIDS And General Sexual Reproductive Health In Kenya. Now I Feel Encouraged To Look For Another Starfish.

    My reply,
    #I salute you for the ages. Keep it up!

  7. Tatenda Madovi

    Real stars have received help one way or another ,And the little each individual do, matters.One great stronghold in many people and that l also found in my personal life is time,resources like start up capital though lm eager to help at bigger scale.Nevertheless l have just started to throw starfish in the ocean and with God`s help lm confident that l will throw thousand starfish in the future

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Grace writes:

    Greetings sir thanks a LOT,
    I am Cameroonian who is running a phone shop for a year today,but I can see how the business is going down .Please to be honest I need help.I pray God touches your heart to help,I believe I need an investor.

    My reply,
    An investor is someone who has money, which they want to find a way to increase. Now you say of your business that “it is going down”; so why would an investor put their money there? Would you put your money in a business, that is “going down”?
    Investors look for opportunities in businesses “going up”!

    You must first try and understand (methodically) why your business is going down. Perhaps the competition has intensified, or customers are using other means of communication, or even that the economy is not performing well.
    There is no business that is not affected by changes taking place. If you want to do well you must anticipate that change, and change your business model, or even get out of that business altogether.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    A few months ago, I visited a company in Silicon Valley, with one of my daughters (young people, help me to think “young”!), and some very senior guys from our company.
    The business was started by two young guys at college who liked computer games. They sold the company for $4bn. It is now worth over $20bn!
    From that visit we set up a channel on Kwese Tv, called ESL. It is one of the most popular channels we have!
    You can watch it by buying a decoder (Ghana, Zambia, and Rwanda). Or you can use the Kwese App.
    Now you might not really understand what is going on (unless you are like my daughter), but as an entrepreneur you must appreciate the significance of such things, if you want to be a success.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Xolani writes:

    In 2003, I visited a place called Bethany Homes in Mthatha, South Africa which is looking after abondoned kids. I was so touched then, as young as I was then I committed to donate R100 pm from the small salary I was getting.
    Little did I know that one day I would come back to Mthatha and open our family business just a km away from Bethany Homes. Now we are able to support over 75 kids Bethany Homes is looking after with food parcels.

    My reply,
    Simply awesome!
    And surely we shall hear of you again.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought on Snapchat:
    Knowing the “big business stories” of the day, shows you are part of the game of business and entrepreneurship. If you are a soccer fan, you would make it your business to know who is playing this weekend. What about you as an entrepreneur?
    Everyday, when I start my day, I start with Business News:
    My favorite Tv channels are Bloomberg Tv, and CNBC Africa. My favorite newspaper is the FT, and Business Day (SA). Before I read a business or financial story, I first check who wrote it. Sadly there are guys who write about things they just don’t understand, as though they do. Very sad.

    You cannot be in a game that you do not follow, and you will not understand its language, if you don’t speak it!
    “Guys, I’m a businessman!” Sometimes, I might not know what has happened in politics, particularly if it was not economic, but I’m always up to speed on business–it’s my game, and I play Champions League. What’s your game, and which league are you in?

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Nahashon asks:

    Hello sir,
    I am from Kenya and have really been following your posts… very very educative. Sir,are you planning launching Kwese tv in Kenya and when?

    My reply,
    Good news! Kenya is slated for March. By 15th March you can buy a Kwese Tv decoder in Kenya. If you already have a dish, from another provider, all you need is our decoder. Plug and play, within 20 minutes. Enjoy!

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Thank you Silas for reminding me about what Prof Wangari Maathai once said.
    I have shared the U-Tube link below. We will also put it on Kwese Tv (Kwese Know, Channel).
    She was my friend, and I miss her very much.

  14. Vengesai Kadzimu

    This is an inspiring story. For years i’ve been one of those who thought: If God can bless me with millions then i’d be able to help others. Following this blog made me realise the many blessing i already have. Nearly 10 years ago i moved to SA with my family as an economic refuge from Zim.

    We are currently settled in a small town of Barberton. As educationists, we have started making a difference in a small way and still believing God for more.

    We started bringing some children to our house for extra classes in Maths (my wife) and English (myself). The response gew bigger and we asked those who could pay to do so in order for us to be able to rent a separate place.

    One girl we stayed with in our house is now training in Russia as a medical doctor, another bere in SA at Free State University. We assistes one boy to go to China from where he will be an Engineer in a few years to come.

    Our vision is to open a school in 2018. This, e believe will help us to continue to make a difference in this community where we are.

    Thank you Dr. Masiyiwa and Mrs for your inspiration.

  15. Mali Dub

    I am your customer in Zimbabwe. 0775487070 some time in February the first week 2017,your company offered a promotion of 500% data bundles on whatever I would have used in one day,up to now your call center is now hanging up on me ,if I ask for my incentive.Please help.


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