The most successful African entrepreneurs of the future

__Think beyond borders of all kinds.

Amongst the many things I wanted to achieve with this platform was to get young African entrepreneurs to reach out and start talking to each other, doing business deals, and partnering to find solutions to Africa’s many other challenges. I’m not sure if you saw this comment I made during our discussion on partnerships a while back:

“Afterthought: Here is a secret! The most successful Africans in future are those who master the ability to partner with Africans from other African countries… Shhhh! (Keep this secret to yourself, because there are many enemies out there who will try and stop you from believing this.)”

As an entrepreneur, there are huge benefits for you if Africa can shift its economic narrative to what I sometimes refer to as “Africanization.” We as Africans need to open up this continent to development by Africans. However, this should not be to the exclusion of working with partners from other parts of the world, or frustrating potential investors!

Have you looked at Africa’s numbers lately?

# Continental Africa has a population of 1.2bn people, and a GDP of $2.8Tn.

# It compares quite favorably with India which has a population of 1.3bn, and GDP of $2.6Tn.

# Assuming a compound annual growth of 5%, Africa’s GDP as a continent can reach $30Tn in 50 years.

# This is 1.5 times bigger than the US economy today (at $19Tn), and three bigger than China today ($11Tn). This is not to suggest that we’ll overtake China and the US, because they’ll continue to grow naturally.

# An economy of $2.8Tn, with a population of 1.2bn people could be leveraged to unleash the type of growth we’ve seen in China over the last 25 years, and beginning to see happen in India under PM Modi.

# In 50 years, Africa’s population will be close to 3bn, and the economy could be $30Tn.

# Two-thirds of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25!

# 60% of the population will live in cities (already 37% — comparable to China, higher than India’s. Expected to be world’s fastest urbanization from 2020 to 2050).

# If we can just increase our GDP growth by an additional 2% per annum to 7% — and sustain it and manage it well — Africa’s future could be remarkable.

# This could completely do away with the need for any form of international development aid (currently about $60bn per annum, and being cut anyway!)

So when you hear about 5% growth or “just 2%”… Does that seem like a small number, and one we can easily achieve? Maybe, but any serious economist will tell you: “Not so simple!”

About 20 years ago, I set off on a remarkable journey. I wanted to do business in Africa, as an African. I’ve set up businesses with entrepreneurs and partners from just about everywhere on this continent — north, south, west and east. At one time or another, I’ve worked in every part. Sometimes I’ve set up joint venture partnerships and other times I’ve just sold or bought something.

A global entrepreneur once called me over a planned a massive investment he wanted to make in a certain country. Years later he said to me, “You told me I would lose my investment, and be left with just my shirt…” Then he symbolically took off his shirt! I wished I had been wrong but my experience with how business works there, I knew he would lose his money.

I’ve also advised people to make investments in places where they went to look for themselves and were very surprised, in a good way!

Let me tell you, it won’t be easy, but it’s easier now than 20 years ago, and will be even easier going forward.

# There’s never been a greater need than now for Africans to reach out to each other — beyond tribe, race, and national borders.

Do you see “Africa rising” where you are? If not, share some of your ideas what must done (not just by others, by YOU.)

Let’s talk.

End.

by 33 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.

33 thoughts on “The most successful African entrepreneurs of the future

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Inga writes,

    Why is it your products are not coming to South Africa is the market or the red tape?

    My reply,
    You might be surprised to learn that we have more than 2000 employees in South Africa. More than 400 of those people work for Kwese Tv.
    We are heavily invested in that country, and we will continue to invest there.
    I lived in SA for 10 years, and it is really my second home.

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tamuka writes,

    Thank you sir for sharing. I was impressed by these stats. I’ve always thought of Africa as a country rather than a continent and your stats reveal that a connected Africa is a true giant.

    By also going through your stats, I figured out something amazing, Africa’s GDP is equal to that of the United Kingdom, both at $2,8tn and greater than that of Germany and Russia. Africa the country is bigger than some of the world’s largest economies. That should be the narrative, we should work towards having a borderless Africa that is connected.

    I remember your speech at a prayer breakfast meeting in Kenya back in 2015 when you said, “When I walk down the street in Nairobi, until I open my mouth, you couldn’t tell where I come, because I’m really Kenyan.” That’s the beauty of Africa, we don’t have differences.

    My reply,
    There is a day coming when “the last shall be first”… It is our turn, and it can happen in your lifetime.
    When I was a child living in Zambia, I met some Chinese people who had come to build a railroad to Tanzania. I asked about their country, and they told me they rode on bicycles. It surprised them that in Zambia there were so many cars and not as many bicycles!

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Rungano writes,

    India is building up because of national synergy..no borders.. No boundaries… China is one of the fastest growing economies..one nation..no excise duties and embargoes within itself..African nations put together on paper have a sizeable GDP.. But actually each nation defends its own industry, blocking business with a neighboring country. If only we could systematically open of markets to each other as African economies…

    My reply,
    Now you understand why I joined the AU Reform Task force:
    It’s about the prosperity of our people.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    I once had a partnership in an African country with some really smart guys, mostly my own age. One day I arrived unexpectedly early for a meeting to discuss our business, and found them meeting alone in a room. I immediately challenged them over why I wasn’t invited to the meeting, since we were all partners: “So you meet on your own without me?” I asked, then added: “I imagine you also meet separately along tribal lines, without each other! If we’re partners, we’re partners, guys. So cut out this nonsense, otherwise I’m out of here!”

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    I even have a little chart which I call “Degree of Difficulty,” where I rate countries on how difficult it is to do business there “as an African.” It’s harder for an African to do business on this continent (outside his or her home country) than for anyone else. I cannot publish my little chart because it would cause pandemonium.

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    If there’s one profession in very short supply on this continent, it is serious economists. If you’re smart and thinking of a university PhD, please do economics… the most endangered profession in Africa, after journalism.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.
    More quiz results! If you’re looking for contest results, please keep an eye on Kwese.com news. After you see you’ve won, please send us a quick note right here. Once we hear back, one of my team will be in touch via Facebook messenger inbox, or message requests. Remember — if we don’t hear back from you within two weeks of the date of the prize announcement, our prize offer becomes null and void.

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Inga writes,

    Why is it your products are not coming to South Africa is the market or the red tape?

    My reply,
    You might be surprised to learn that we have more than 2000 employees in South Africa. More than 400 of those people work for Kwese Tv.
    We are heavily invested in that country, and we will continue to invest there.
    I lived in SA for 10 years, and it is really my second home.

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Simbo writes,

    Sharing such rating information will help upcoming entrepreneur, I believe .

    My reply,
    I fully appreciate your point.
    It would also be very helpful to global investors who are looking for such information. I am being asked all the time about which are the best countries in Africa to invest based on my experiences.
    Unfortunately the political class in some of the countries that are difficult will not take the publication of such a list constructively. They will accuse me of campaigning against their country, rather than trying to address these issues. They will then retaliate against my hard working staff in those countries.

    There are countries where the Presidents have invited me to address them and their key ministers about what measures to take. And in such cases I have given my best advice. I will always give my best to Africa, if given an opportunity.

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Seki writes,

    How do we connect East Africa to West Africa by road?

    My reply,
    …and rail, and airlinks as well!

    We need to also connect the soft infrastructure as well to enable the easy movement of people, goods and capital.

    For my part I want to connect every African country by fibre. We have already connected 15x countries through our company Liquid Telecom. This year we will directly link East, South and West Africa. As I speak we are building….
    Our Kwese Tv signal is available in 44x countries, we just have to build distribution. I can assure you it will be done by the end of this year.
    “Nothing is impossible for him who believes in God”; you know that don’t you?

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Victor writes,

    I met two guys on this platform one from S.A and the other one from Japan and we are doing great things you will soon hear about us…Thank Dr Strive for this platform i have achieved great things through this platform

    My reply,
    Totally awesome!
    Keep me informed.

    Reply
  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:
    On Kwese Tv we have this amazing show in which young Africans are asked to share their favorite meal with an African from another country. I love that show…if you get a decoder look out for that show. I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak!

    Reply
  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ofuso writes,

    Hello Mr Masiyiwa, how do i contact kwese tv as i have an idea they might be interested in. I got this idea after i read your post on cervical cancer. I however do not know who to contact since i am in Ghana.

    My reply,
    At the moment our people are working flat out to get the systems up and running in over 20x countries.
    To you and others who are keen to present ideas, I suggest that you give them a bit of space. I’m sure by the end of the year, you will see them starting to look out for you.
    Meanwhile go to the Kwesefied website for additional information.

    Reply
  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ivy writes,

    I believe that to be able to form very successful business partnerships with our brothers and sisters from other countries, we should make it a point to read on what is happening in other African countries on a daily basis.

    I personally do this by subscribing to Google alerts on the industries in African countries that interest me. This has helped to be knowledgeable in recent developments in African countries apart from my own and also given me some ideas on businesses to start.

    My reply,
    Every morning, I read a report on what is going on across the entire continent. I have trained myself to think about Africa as one big country. I don’t care about the borders, after all we did not put them there!

    Reply
  15. Sharon Rapetswa

    Not sure you read these comments, but if you do, i need you to send me an email, so i can share a business proposal i need you to mentor me on, even if it over Skype. what i would like you to help me accomplish will change a lot of lives and influence the way big companies do business. i cant sit here in this office where i am working as an administrator anymore. I am an entrepreneur, i want to solve problems that add value to people’s lives and earn my right to be rich. i just need to touch the hem of your garment and i will live for the good and bad of this African Continent. I am ready! I am the African Economic Patriot that they warned you about.

    Reply
  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tamuka writes,

    Thank you sir for sharing. I was impressed by these stats. I’ve always thought of Africa as a country rather than a continent and your stats reveal that a connected Africa is a true giant.

    By also going through your stats, I figured out something amazing, Africa’s GDP is equal to that of the United Kingdom, both at $2,8tn and greater than that of Germany and Russia. Africa the country is bigger than some of the world’s largest economies. That should be the narrative, we should work towards having a borderless Africa that is connected.

    I remember your speech at a prayer breakfast meeting in Kenya back in 2015 when you said, “When I walk down the street in Nairobi, until I open my mouth, you couldn’t tell where I come, because I’m really Kenyan.” That’s the beauty of Africa, we don’t have differences.

    My reply,
    There is a day coming, when “the last shall be first”…it is our turn, and it can happen in your life time.
    When I was a child living in Zambia, I met some Chinese people who had come to build a railroad to Tanzania. I asked about their country, and they told me they rode on bicycles. It surprised them that in Zambia there were so many cars and not as many bicycles!

    Reply
  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Rungano writes,

    India is building up because of national synergy..no borders.. No boundaries… China is one of the fastest growing economies..one nation..no excise duties and embargoes within itself..African nations put together on paper have a sizeable GDP.. But actually each nation defends its own industry, blocking business with a neighboring country. If only we could systematically open of markets to each other as African economies…

    My reply,
    Now you understand why I joined the AU Reform Task force:
    Its about the prosperity of our people.

    Reply
    • Tawanda

      The article is indeed inspiring. I am also a staunch believer in the potential of Africa. However, I concur with Rungano that China and India have been able to achieve the recorded progress so far because they are not composed of autonomous independent states in the manner of Africa. Real regional economic integration is the answer! But, one wonders whether integration as an economic philosophy will survive in the wake of “Brexit”. There are now even talks of “Frexit”. These events, although happening outside Africa have the potential to make African nations think again on the question of integration – further delaying progress towards a true economic union.

      Reply
  18. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:

    From my Post there is something I want you to think about:

    “Here is a secret! The most successful Africans in future are those who master the ability to partner with Africans from other African countries… Shhhh! (Keep this secret to yourself, because there are many enemies out there who will try and stop you from believing this.)”

    #1. You have to “master the ability;” this means it will not be easy. Sometimes you will fail and have bitter disappointments in which you say: “I’m not going there again; I will never deal with those people again!” Then you pick yourself up, after months or even years, and try again.

    __”Hey! It’s tough out there!”

    If you are fainthearted or thin-skinned, don’t try it. Better you stay at home.
    They will fight you all the way, you may even lose your property.
    As with everything, if we persist we will win others to our way of seeing things, and gradually change will come. It must come. Indeed this change is inevitable.

    Reply
  19. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought:

    I also said:
    “We as Africans need to open up this continent to development by Africans.”

    Let me reflect further and perhaps even provoke you:

    This is going to be very, very difficult to achieve. There are countries in Africa where they get angry to see people from other regions within their own country come to “their” area!
    Aah, you know what I’m talking about now!

    So if we have a problem with seeing our fellow countrymen with equal and inalienable rights come to “our” area, within the same country, what will we say about Africans from another country?
    It will take strong and courageous leadership supported by determined enlightened people who believe in our common destiny to break these things.

    Never accept xenophobic behavior of any kind.
    [Don’t turn this into a discussion on what happened recently in SA; take note and let’s move on, and fight for change. There is an example from every country I can think of, so let’s not go there!]

    Reply
  20. Eunice Lar

    I love reading your inspirational messages and they are pertinent for this generation and time. There are a few things I would like to point out.

    There are so many people with various business ideas they want to embark on but are not brave enough for so many reasons. They lack the finances needed and sometimes mentors to show them how things can be handled.

    There are instances where people have an idea and do not know who to talk to for fear of their ideas being hijacked.

    Usually in the developed world you can protect your idea before revealing them to people however, the processes in Africa are cumbersome.

    There are hardly any methods and processes where one can contact experienced entrepreneurs in Africa to help with their ideas.Whenever you even try to contact them, they simple ignore your emails.

    What I think we can do in this forum is to create an enabling environment and platform where any one with an idea can come and present it and let others help and put them through. I do know that coming on such a forum will mean your idea is already in the public domain and anybody trying to implement it is doing so at his own risk.

    There are some many people coming up with startups everyday in the developed world but in Africa we simply encourage people without showing them the ropes. Not every thinker is a businessman so they obviously need people with the knowledge to guide them.

    What this forum can decide is to act like a dragons den kind of a forum where people can find partners with like minds to drive forward tangible and implementable ideas.

    As a people of Africa we must take our own destiny into our own hands to grow our continent by being our brothers keeper.

    In the United Kingdom you can always find companies that claim they can help you develop your idea. They have helped so many people bring products to the market and various ideas to fruition. But the challenges of Africa are usually better handled by Africans. Sometimes these companies simply collect your money and don’t deliver what they promise.

    We can easily use this forum to get people to contribute money and come together as a group to implement certain ideas that are brought up that are viable.

    I wish to advocate that Mr Musiyiwa takes upon himself that role of an elder to moderate and direct such a venture. I have an example of a forum that has been created by a few women to help other women in the tech start up sector and they have a huge following. What takes place there is they advertise jobs in the tech industry and invite other women to apply. Even there are women who mentor other women with tech ideas, asking all the pertinent and relevant questions about the product to want to present to the market.

    There is too much of joblessness in Africa and because the people have gone through so much they lack the confidence to start because they are afraid of failing.

    I am a firm believer in numbers when it comes to starting a business. When we have groups of people who are well versed in a particular field, they can act as a check of each other.

    The reason why businesses fail a lot is because people always want to go it alone. When everybody is selling water and we have one thousand with a small space selling it, automatically each of them can only sell the quantity that can buy only bare essentials in life because there is not capital to expand. If they grouped together and bought heavy machinery to produce the water, in the long run they will open up shops for that same water. I don’t think it is stupidity that the developed world mostly has large supermarkets. It is because there is a tendency that they will achieve better growth than when individuals embark on selling individually.

    This forum can become our go to platform for launching various businesses in Africa. In the U.K there are dragons giving startups seed funds and monitoring them for returns that’s why I believe we can do the same for our continent.

    We can form boards right on the platform to oversee the various businesses we are able to create and get people together who we think can deliver.

    I am grateful to you Mr Musiyiwa for creating this platform and I hope and pray that it could become a change instrument for Africa.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  21. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Batambuze writes,

    Actually making research and being inquisitive is the way to go. Through one of those two, it was just yesterday that I came to realise that kweese TV is operating in my Country -Uganda.

    My reply,
    Yes we are already in Uganda with our 24 hour Free To Air sports channel Kwese Free Sport.
    We will soon introduce Kwese Tv, our Pay TV platform which has 75 channels. Meanwhile you can access additional channels (not all of them) using your smartphone on Kwese App.

    Reply
  22. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    As a Christian Easter is by far and away my favorite holiday. It is a time of deep contemplation for me:
    Francis of Assisi once said “I have so contemplated the cross that if you open my heart you will find a cross imprinted on it.” As I personally contemplated the cross yesterday, I meditated on something the Apostle Paul said in one of his letters:

    “But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].
    It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). “(2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

    Reply
  23. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Don’t fall prey to Fake News, and 419 scam artists:

    Fake News and 419 scam artists are the same!

    The other day an old acquaintance (too embarrassed about him now, to call him a friend), enquired about some fake news he had read about me. “I am really concerned about you.” I replied calmly.
    “Why?” He asked, surprised.

    Then I explained to him:
    “The guys who write fake news articles and post them on the Internet, are exactly the same as what they call in Nigeria, a “419”. Keep listening to them, and one day you will lose all your money to a real 419 scam artist.
    How can you be so gullible as to believe the gibberish from “trainee 419ners”?!
    Even my 14 year old daughter was laughing, when she saw that particular story.
    You need to be smart, like the guys who are on my Facebook platform; none of them ever comment or enquired on such stories, because they know it for what it is; “Fake News”.

    People who make up stories about other people and post them as though they are true, are “trainee 419ner” scam artists (even if they are paid to do it) and when they graduate to full fledged criminality they will defraud people. This also includes people who steal identities by setting up Fake social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    Their choice.

    Please join my Facebook platform where we are discussing ideas that will secure Africa’s prosperity. If I have something serious to say, you will find it there first.

    Reply
  24. Timothy Tichiwangani

    If Only Our Leaders Know The Potential We Have As Africa, They Would Speadup Our Intergration

    Reply
  25. Gerald Mudzengi

    I have an idea but want your advice……. Knowing your achievements, I know you are the best man who can assist me achieve this big dream………

    Reply
  26. Gerald Mudzengi

    I have a dream…. big dream… just as big as the telecom’s business… but seeking advice from an expert … the expert being you…..

    Reply
  27. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Prominent Bill Dzombo writes,

    Am from Kenya Owning a company dealing with Leather crafting making African Sandals with Colored beads male n female collections, handbags n many more looking partners all if interested hit my inbox

    My reply,
    Congratulations Billy. Next time you must give the name of the company and its Website.

    Reply
  28. Makawa Joseph gilbert

    I have always enjoyed your post Dr strive. And as a pharmacy student,I believe in creating a global business .

    Reply
  29. Ian

    Strive, this article has motivated me to think of how can one can give back to the land & people that gave one so much. would like to discuss an African entrepreneurial incubation project. It involves the utilisation of all the technology you have implemented & the people you have worked so hard to build a future for. If you feel lead pls contact one by return.

    Reply
  30. Prosper kudzai Chigavazira

    Halo sir I have been looking how I can get hold of you, I need your help 773284389

    Reply
  31. Funmi

    Thanks for this piece. I am not one to comment on articles (never would, but I can’t help this)

    This article just goes to confirm thoughts on cross border partnership that I keeping talking to people about.

    My only major challenge is how and where to connect with young minds like mine to build trust worth business partnerships.

    I have searched online, tried venture capital sites and sites for start up .

    I wish there was an easier way to connect with people from outside my country on new business ideas in the market or mine.

    I have an idea i have been working on for a while and can really use a partner now,

    Reply

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