Image caption: Muraadso co-founders Abdiqani Ibrahim, Hamse Musa and Saed Mohamed. https://muraadso.com/

The Lion and the Ranger (Part 6)

__#SalutingAfricanEntrepreneurs!

The other day someone on my team sent me an article about some young entrepreneurs from Somalia who started an online shopping business called Muraadso. The story was on BBC. There were four things that caught my attention:

#1. What a mindset!

I have often said, as an African entrepreneur you must have a mindset which is that of a trained soldier: “We fight in whatever conditions we find ourselves, and not the conditions.”

If you think it is hard to find money in your country, think of a guy trying to start a business in a country where for decades the government has barely been in existence. For most of us, the only news of Somalia for years has been violence and lawlessness, until we mistakenly just tend to associate the country with that image…

Where do you even begin? “Do they even have banks?” you might ask yourself.

And yet despite all this, there are entrepreneurs there! Yes, some of the finest entrepreneurs I have met anywhere, are Somalis!

#2. What an amazing business!

I have written often about e-Commerce in Africa. This is an excellent example. This business will probably scale across Africa, and these guys will end up as some of the richest people this continent has ever seen!

The richest man in the world (Jeff Bezos) is from e-Commerce. More than half of the top ten richest guys in China are from e-Commerce. The richest company in Africa now is from e-Commerce.

You don’t need licenses or government tenders to get into e-Commerce. Often you don’t need much more than a computer, and some data bundles.

#3. What determination and grit!

You want to know about smart, determined young people who will shape the future of the continent, you need look no further than these guys. Working quietly away across this continent, are thousands of such people. You can meet some of them on this platform because I created it to give them — YOU — a voice.

#4. Liquid Telecom helped them!

Buried inside the BBC story was this line: “In 2013, fibre optic firm Liquid Telecom connected the East African country to its network of cables, which now spreads 50,000km (31,000 miles) across 11 other African countries.”

It took me back to what TL Osborne, the Evangelist once said: “If you truly want to be successful, identify a problem and reach out to solve it.”

Here is the link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-41497345

Here is my own story on this: In 2001 both the South African and Zimbabwean telecoms regulators refused to allow us to connect our telecoms network in Zimbabwe with SA Telkom’s network using radio frequencies. After a three-year stand-off, we found a solution which did not require radio frequencies: it was called fibre optic technology.

Once we started using this technology, we found that its cost had fallen so dramatically that we could run a cable from the SA border to Harare. Having connected Zimbabwe, we were approached by the Zambian authorities to connect their country to the sea cables, using our network. Then the government of DRC asked us to connect the southern part of their country. The list of countries just grew and grew.

__We were connecting the landlocked countries of Africa to the sea cables! A new business had been born which would go on to become a great company in our group!

One day, Nic Rudnick, the CEO of Liquid Telecom (the fibre company we created) asked me: “When do you want us to stop?”

“Let’s connect Cape Town to Cairo,” I said with steely determination.

Fast forward 13 years: 50,000 km of cable. Thousands of people employed. We are near that goal. We still have to connect Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. We’re working flat out to try and complete these last three countries before the end of next year! (and we’re not stopping there…)

Fast forward again: More than five years ago, a group of entrepreneurs from Somalia (not these guys) heard about what we were doing:

“Can you also link our country?”

“It’s our duty,” we replied.

We worked with them to connect their country. No fuss, no drum beating. If BBC had not mentioned it, you probably would not have heard about it.

The real story for me is the young entrepreneurs in these countries who have taken advantage of the infrastructure we built to build businesses that are transforming communities, nations, and the African continent.

#SalutingAfricanEntrepreneurs!

To be continued. . .

by 9 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.

9 thoughts on “The Lion and the Ranger (Part 6)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    This week senior executives at Liquid Telecom had to make ‘Shark Tank’ type investor pitches to more than 100 Global Bond Investors. We wanted to raise $180m but the investors offered us $507m. #Well done TeamLiquid!

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    We also have a vision to go from Cape Town to Tangiers through the West. We have almost completed the crossing from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa. We will continue through the countries of the West. Certainly it will be done within 10 years.

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.
    Raising capital for expansion of any business is a constant ongoing process. This year alone we have raised more than $1,5bn. Each time we have to pitch like on Shark Tank… only we have to do it more than 100x! You can practice your skills by watching Shark Tank on Kwesé Inc.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Update:
    What a week!
    This time last week I was in Chicago. I then left for London where I spent two days. From there I went to SA, where I spent another two days. I travelled back to London (one day), and then headed back to New York (two days).
    Now I’m heading back to London (one day), Nigeria (one day), Ghana (one day), Senegal (one day)…London, Marseille, Rabat…all next week!
    Lots of fun…see you at the Town Halls.

    I know many, many people who are doing 10x more with their time!
    I yearn to do the same. And so should you.
    Push yourself for greater personal productivity.

    Lessons:
    1. You have the capacity to do much more than you are doing now. Train yourself to do more.
    2. Don’t be afraid of hard work.

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Big announcements next week!
    Tune in to the Nigeria, and Ghana Town Halls because we have some Yuuge announcements:
    #megastooff!

    I’m also going to Marseille France for a big business announcement. Really cool!

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    A dear friend asked me how I cope with a lot of travel. Here is how I replied:
    1. Traveling, in of itself, is not tiring. If it was pilots and flight attendants would be lying on the floors at airports!
    They always look smart, and yet they travel almost everyday for 30 years as a job.

    2. Being tired is a state of mind. You can be tired just sitting!
    I never allow myself to feel tired. It is luxury I cannot afford.
    3. The day you find out what others are able to do with time, you will rise up like a giant and do likewise.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Owolabi writes,

    Investors have tons of cash to spend. They need viable ventures to stash the excess cash. Successful entrepreneur start and build their business then approach investors to raise capital for expansion. If you waiting for investors to invest in your idea, you may have to wait forever. In the words of the great mentor, start with what is in your hand!

    My reply,
    There is a lot of truth in what you say. Sadly many young entrepreneurs don’t appreciate that it is very hard to get an investor to back an “idea”.

    If you watch Shark Tank regularly, you will soon realize that guys who walk into the Tank with just an idea, don’t get an investment. Investors want to see a business not an idea. You have to find a way to get started…”every Lion was once a cub.”
    If it’s an “idea” then you must have a patent for it.

    Reply
  8. Muhammad Bariise

    i am very glad to see a young generation whose who sarted new business idea particularly in Somalia, as we know somalia is where going conflicts and lawleness. indeed i apperciate how give a motivational word to your acheivements i beleive is not easy to start up something that you dont know wether will be successfull or not. i usually watch you videos and stories about you.

    Reply

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