Image credit: Some of the ABF Fellows from the USA who worked in Africa this year (and attended the NBA-Africa game). Next time you see them they will be senior executives or even CEO of a giant American company. You will appreciate them even more then!

The Lion and the Ranger (Part 2)

__Are you following tracks or creating new ones?

When I was in the US recently, I decided to drop in and visit one of our key partners, a company called Roku. This company supplies the specialized decoder for Kwesé Play that allows us to digitally “stream” all our Kwesé TV channels, plus services like Netflix and 100 others so far. It can only be used with a fibre optic cable in the house and is better than a satellite decoder.

Roku is one of the revolutionary companies coming out of Silicon Valley. (Roku itself came out of Netflix). Small by U.S. standards, Roku dominates the likes of Apple in this market segment. It has over 38m users in the U.S. alone. (It recently listed in the US and is now worth over $2bn!)

One of the challenges when you approach new companies that have new products is that they’ll often tell you they aren’t ready for global expansion. (And when they do begin to expand, Africa is generally not high on the agenda because there are bigger markets like China and Europe).

Africa is highly fragmented and difficult for those who don’t know how to navigate in it. This is a normal business reaction and I don’t get mad about it. Even Chinese, European or Japanese companies do the same. Those that do come to Africa generally go to South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia first because they are the big markets.

(Don’t launch into a tirade over the unfairness you see. This is not the platform… read on and learn from the ranger!)

In launching Kwesé Play (https://www.kwese.com/play) we wanted to get access to the Roku device, because it’s the best in the world. We knew they hadn’t yet started their global expansion, and thought it highly unlikely that they’d accept to make a push into Africa at this stage in their growth.

__We decided to try anyway because we wanted the best #Product for our customers!

We were thrilled when they agreed to come and work with us in Africa, without a hesitation.

“We think Africa has huge potential,” they said, “and we are prepared to work with you guys. We know Africa!”

Wow!

The other day I learnt why, and it’s the reason I included this story in the Lion and the Ranger series.

As I sat there with one of Roku’s key executives, and the one who had led our initiative in their company, he told me that after his graduate studies in the United States, he wanted to spend a year working in Africa so he went to live and teach in rural Tanzania. He could even speak fluent Swahili.

That was the connection!

We had a champion for Africa in the c-suite of one of the most important future companies in the media industry!

Wow, wow, wow!

He said he even follows me on Facebook. (I told you we have some very interesting #People of good will reading your comments!)

# Flashback: In 2014 I launched a program to invite young American graduates who had just completed their graduate studies to spend up to six months working for companies in Africa. We called it the Africa Business Fellowship (ABF). (http://www.africabusinessfellowship.com/)

As I explained to President Obama at the time: “When these guys return home, they will one day do business with us in Africa. If I walk into the c-suite of a major company in the US and the person running it has worked in Africa, you can be assured they’ll have a totally different mindset compared to someone who just visited as a tourist. We want business partners that take Africa seriously. I want to invest in that future.”

__In my long journey as an entrepreneur, I’d learned from experience that the people who give you an open door are those who have spent time on our continent. Even in China and Europe I had seen this.

After listening to me, President Obama heartily endorsed the program.

I then got in touch with some companies in Africa, and also identified two partners who now drive our ABF program: In the US, a group called Management Leadership for Tomorrow helps recruit our Fellows (https://ml4t.org/) and in Africa, the African Leadership Network helps identify companies where the Fellows are placed (http://africanleadershipnetwork.com/)

We’ve been receiving American graduates for the last two years. As I write today, several are working for companies throughout Africa!

Our Fellows will go on in their careers to join companies like Facebook, ROKU, IBM, and Disney. When YOU pitch up to do business in the years to come, some of them will probably be running these giant companies! They will receive you with understanding and a deep knowledge of the challenges you face. They will be your partners… provided, of course, we treated them with true African hospitality!

Now the guy at Roku was not one of the graduates of our ABF program, but it shows exactly what I had in mind.

# What is your leadership lesson from this story?

Remember to write: “My leadership lesson is… (one paragraph max).

Think back to how the ranger approached the problem of the lion eating cattle in the village in Part One. Are you following the same old tracks or creating new ones?

There are many problems out there and we need to approach them like that ranger. Some solutions will take some time to bear results, but we must be patient.

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 “The Lion and the Ranger (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    The most advanced decoder in the world today, the Roku streaming TV and media player is used for streaming digital TV channels (over the Internet). It currently allows people in the US to stream 3000 channels! Just imagine that! So far we have cleared rights for 100 channels of the 3000 available, and we’re working to clear many more

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    NBA 2017-2018 season tip off quiz winners announced!
    The NBA basketball season started last night and tonight is the ESPN doubleheader! Please go to Kwese.com to check out the results of last week’s quiz. If you’re a winner, congratulations! Please come back here to let me know, and BE SURE to look out for a note from my prize team on your FACEBOOK MESSENGER request inbox.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Breaking News on Kwese:

    1. KTN News of Kenya now continental on Kwese. This is great news for Kenyans who are outside Kenya. You can use your decoder or the Kwese App.

    2. Our new family entertainment channel:
    Kwese Family will go on air on 31st October. This is one of our really big channels that has been under development for two years.

    3. 4x Fox channels [including Nat Geo], Ezekiel TV, God TV, E!, HIT TV, DayStar Tv, are just some of the great channels coming on air in a matter of two weeks.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Joint Venture with Vice Media to create Kwese Vice:
    This week we announced the launch of a joint venture called Kwese Vice, which was struck when I was in Hollywood last week.
    The new platform will go live in early 2018. It will be huge!
    Here is a link if you want to learn more:

    http://variety.com/2017/digital/global/vice-launches-full-scale-operation-in-sub-saharan-africa-1202590569/

    I promised to take the game to a new level. We are just getting started!

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Bagambe writes,

    In Uganda I kind of saw a post on some website that kwese now in Uganda? Sir

    My reply,
    You can now get a decoder in Uganda.
    Welcome!

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    There are currently 354 students studying in the United States that came from our programs for orphans (Higher Life Foundation), and our program for highly gifted students known as the Joshua Nkomo Scholars.
    We also have students in South Africa, UK, Australia, and China, this year.

    We are the single largest private scholarship provider at Zimbabwean Universities.

    This year we have over 30,000 orphans being supported through primary school, and high school.

    Our program for the support of students which began in Zimbabwe now extends to other African countries where our businesses operate.
    We have been operating these programs for more than 20 years.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    When Netflix launched its services there were people who declared openly that it could not survive because it did not have rights to major sports rights like NBA, NHL and NFL, America’s biggest sports. There was no sports channels like ESPN.
    How could they challenge giant corporations that had been around for decades and had millions of customers and billions in the bank?

    Today Netflix is worth $85bn. It is twice the size of Direct TV the largest satellite broadcasting TV network in the US.

    The most successful entrepreneurs, are successful because they understand this simple observation.
    #What do you see?

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Adebimpe writes,

    The greatest legacy ever lies in how much one has imparted other people’s lives.You are indeed bridging a gap between Africa and the Western world.You are truely an agent of change and am sure most people would follow your good steps on this platform…..

    My reply,
    Thank you for your kind remarks.
    I try to emulate the “ranger “ in solving problems, and looking for opportunities.
    It is not just the Western world, but the entire world that we must build bridges with as Africans.
    I’m a member of the Asia Society and a fellow of the Ashinaga Foundation in Japan. This is part of my efforts to build a better understanding with and of Asia.

    My greatest passion is bridges between African nations.

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Christian writes,

    Observation sir. Kwese decoder should b ‘fix it yourself’. One should not b looking for an installer anytime he wants to fix his decoder. This is KWESE sir. Life is simple with Kwese TV

    My reply,
    Thank you for the suggestion. We have two types of decoders:
    #1. A satellite decoder: this should always be installed by a trained professional because getting the decoder locked into the satellite signal requires someone to sometimes climb on a roof. This can be very dangerous, and could lead to injury or even death. You must also consider older people. This why we will not allow a customer to activate the system without an installer.

    #2. Kwese Play (ROKU) decoder does not require a professional installer. You can do it yourself because it connects to a fibre optic cable. You also choose the channels you want to see.

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Erick writes,

    I would also appreciate if you would get the local channels in Kenya, please kindly do, and may God bless you abundantly.

    My reply,
    In every single country we add local free channels, in particular the government owned TV channel.
    You will definitely see Other Kenyan channels added besides KTN.

    You can only see local channels when you are in the country itself, and not from outside because of legal restrictions.
    There is a lot of legal and engineering technicalities which must take place before a channel goes on air.

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Blessing writes,

    So since fibre optics is the way to go in future, can your company subcontract to smaller companies so that we can cover more ground and make a lot of money at the same time? Soon every home in Africa should have fibre optic cables if we want to keep up with the rest of the world. The more the network expands the cheaper it will become

    My reply,
    Having fibre in your home, if you can get it, is very important. It will be quite sometime before everyone has fibre in the Home even in developed economies.
    Kwese TV does not provide fibre, but the arrival of Kwese Play will create a stimulus for providers. We are already seeing this in SA.
    If you see an opportunity to connect homes with fibre, go for it.

    Reply
  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Champions writes,

    I can’t say it enough, i can only sing it. I am one of yours, all the way from Nigeria you gave me opportunity to education here in SA, you gave sight to a blind, indeed is a higher life. Because of you Sir, the blind can now lead. Sir in my bits am grateful, my family and friends are thankful to you. #HLF
    Without pride am a fine product, your courtesy.

    My reply,
    I’m so blessed by what you have said. May you prosper in all that you do.

    Reply
  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Breaking!

    Our next Town Hall meetings will all be in November!

    #1. Nigeria (Abuja, this time).
    #2. Ghana
    #3. Dakar Senegal.
    #4. Kenya.
    #5. Uganda.

    I’m going to have some special guests!
    Stay tuned for details.

    Reply
  14. Yoo Ali

    My leadership lesson from this story is that; the seed planted in the heart of a Foreigner on African soil today would generate a harvest of business opportunities for Africa tomorrow.

    Reply

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