This is how we begin (Part 1)

__The entrepreneurial tourist!

“Whenever you see a successful business person whom you might even admire, don’t be intimidated to think you might never get there. They started just where you might be right now. Every lion was once a cub. So practice your roar, and learn the hunting skills…”

There is an urban legend I’ve shared with a few of you before which goes like this: One morning a young American tourist was traveling through a typical African township whilst on holiday after graduating from university. As he watched the early morning hustle of people trying to get transport for work, all driving the same direction, he must have heard someone shout:

“Lift! Lift!”

Next thing a private car stopped and people jumped in. The jam-packed cars, all full, headed to the city. Others were in “little buses” which have different names in every African city, but in many ways are the backbone of transport in urban Africa.

“We give each other lifts!” one of the drivers had told this young tourist when he questioned what was going on.

“It’s all entrepreneurial and much more efficient that our own (American) transport system,” he observed later with much enthusiasm.

If you have ever been to Los Angeles, where he comes from, the scene at the same time would have been very different… cars bumper-to-bumper, barely moving, each with just one or two people inside.

For Logan Green, the entrepreneurial tourist, the African transport solution was not as chaotic as some would consider. It was actually more efficient than what he saw back in the more advanced economy.

“If we can get people to share their cars, and get paid for it as they do in Africa, we would have fewer cars on the road, and traffic would move,” so he reasoned.

With Africa’s solution in mind, Green returned to America and developed an App to help people find a “lift” from someone driving their way…

The idea of a “ride sharing” app was born!

Green started his first ride-sharing company in 2006, and sold it to a big international rental car agency several years later. He then co-founded another company, named after what he heard in Africa. It is called “Lyft” and is now valued at more than $15bn! Lyft will soon list on a major stock exchange.

I first came across the idea, not through Logan Green’s Lyft, but when I was visiting one of my daughters at college, in New York several years ago.

She told me she traveled on “Uber” and did not need a car!

“Uber?” I had no idea what she was talking about.

I went out to try it, and loved it. No more car hire for me, thank you very much!

“How does it actually work?” I asked. “What is the actual #process?”

I learned what probably most of you now know: The vehicle belongs to the entrepreneur. Uber sources customers for the entrepreneur and gets a commission, using a highly sophisticated platform which the customer accesses with an App.

Now most of you will remember a few weeks ago I wrote here about GoGoVan, Hong Kong’s first US$1bn start-up and asked you to read an article. I was so impressed with your responses, the five lessons you said you learned from it and shared as comments, that I decided to turn this into a series…

How do we begin?

“If you want to truly succeed, identify a human need, and reach out to solve it.”(Rev TL Osborne).

To be continued. . .

by 13 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.

13 thoughts on “This is how we begin (Part 1)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    One of my favorite new business discoveries is from India. It’s called Oyo! One of my daughters is into hospitality entrepreneurship and thinks Oyo is cool! So does #CoolDad!

    Having somewhere cheap, clean and safe to stay in low income communities, including informal settlements, is possible as a business. Oyo is coming to Kibera, Epworth, Ikeja…? How cool is that!

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    If I wanted to visit your village, where would I stay, if I don’t want to live in your house or if I’m a tourist? How will I know it’s safe, clean, and has a guaranteed quality standard of food? This is why a business like Oyo is so cool!

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    Who will promote the idea of African rural tours, not just wildlife? Are you the one working in this area? Let me know, I want to invest or help you find investors!

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    Sometimes the success of others can not only intimidate you, it might even induce in you bitterness, anger, or even envy. This is particularly so, if you are a faithless person. Someone of faith uses the success of others as a platform of expectation from God.

    The problem with bitterness, anger, or envy is that you [yourself] become a victim not the person to whom your vitriol may be directed.

    It eats you like canker. Your mind soon loses the capacity to learn and absorb anything.

    Worse you lose the capacity to see good.

    Even if an angel of God were to stand in front of you, you would not see him.

    What motivates someone to hate or rail against someone they have never met or seen in their life?

    If you know someone like that, stay away from them. You might catch their disease.

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Godfrey writes,

    Oh! Dr Strive, you are such an inspiration. You always challenge us to think beyond our own needs. I did the same, while I was in cape town doing some work there, I met this young man at Radisson Blu Hotel who served us so well during our stay there. Long story short, I vulontereed to mentor him. He is now my student and he and I speak on monthly basis thorough whatsapp or email. Entrepreneurship is not about making money only but also helping others to realise their potential. Thank you sir.

    My reply,
    You are amazing!
    Well done. I call you “Brother Godfrey” today.

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Precious writes,

    Atiku Abubakar and fela DUROTOYE this is a great competitive advantage this election.

    #ANewNigeria I stand for

    My reply,
    The problem with your approach is that you choose the wrong platform.
    When others are talking about their business and social entrepreneurship ideas, you come with politics. There are so many lively newspaper platforms where you could go and discuss your political preferences.
    Please go there and engage in wonderful democratic discourse with your opponents.

    I take the task of reading your comments so carefully. I’m looking for ways to help you advance in your career, or business venture, including social enterprises.
    We also ban anyone we find tries to misuse our platform for other ends.
    We won’t ban you this time, but please don’t let it happen again.
    I love Nigeria and follow its politics closely. I even know both presidential candidates personally.
    But this is not the platform for political discourse.

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Cyril writes,

    Sir, following you for the past years have been a great exposure. I have so many businesses i had gambled with after loosing my job, it was tough cos i started with as little capital as $50. Right now, am doing a recycling business in a village near a city of Port-Harcourt in Nigeria. I have zeal in being the blessing to mankind and also to improve lives in the rural area and i also have zeal in agro business expecially in eggs production it has been my dream to own a place where i can site this busness. This made me to be patient with my petty recycling business, from which after 4yrs i purchase a piece of land of about 480sqm in a rural area from the proceeds of my recycling business.
    Am left with securing of the boundary of the land with bricks, setting up of cages for birds and purchasing of birds. It took me 4years to get to where I’m now, i have not gotten any fund or support to start up my egg production business. I wish you can invest in my egg production, which shall create more jobs in for the people living in the rural area. I have all the relevant document of the landed property.

    My reply,
    How can I not help you!
    Get a passport, and we will organize for you to go and get training for your chicken business.
    Someone will be in touch.

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Richwake writes,

    Did you say Ikeja in Lagos? There’s no rural area but cheap, clean and safe will surely be appreciated. However I’m considering that for my village home in Ibadan. The last time I went to inspect I had to drive back (65km) to town to sleep because my Grandparent’s roof was leaking and couldn’t find a comfortable place to pass the night. Oyo in my village might be good; there’s free land for

    My reply,
    Did you go back and repair your grandparents leaking roof?

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Shola writes,

    Sir, I’m equipped with a particular project idea. It’s very hard to execute with little. I actually ran a business and failed in the process due to corruption and change in institutional policies. I’m hungrily looking for ways to get back. No cash. But I’ve been willing to sell of my house to raise cash. Buyers are not forthcoming. Looking for partners so that we can start from somewhere like you advised. I’m actually looking up to owning an Africa educational game changer mobile App. At least to commence with a website which could serve as a prototype and ease the marketing process then move to the next step. This is a project that will serve over 21 million of primary school pupils in Nigeria alone. Could anyone donate a free service web design out of Strive Masiyiwa love or could you assist to get someone either as an investor or a partner. God bless you sir.

    My reply,
    I commend your efforts, but still it is just an “idea”, a “dream”.
    I’m also glad that no one has bought your house, because you are likely to lose that money, and end up with no where to stay.
    Why?
    You must learn to start small, even with just $50, and demonstrate you can “scale”.

    In business you must not look for others to “donate” to you. It suggests you don’t want to pay for services rendered to you by others.
    In business we cannot pay for something, we try to negotiate terms. We never ask for donations.

    Reply
  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    Donors and investors are not the same, and you confuse them at your country’s peril!

    I have seen many African policymakers pitch for investors when what they are really looking for are donors!

    A donor, whether they are a government or rich billionaire philanthropist, is someone trying to help your country.
    Unfortunately, you cannot build a country on donations!

    An investor is someone who invests capital, and expects a return of the capital plus all profits earned by that capital. They don’t want that return to get stuck, because you have no foreign exchange [since they brought in foreign exchange as investment].

    Almost all investors have an option:
    They can stay at home and invest domestically, or they can go to another country where they feel they can invest safely. One of the big challenges at the moment is that the US economy is performing so well, that it’s really attractive to stay at home, and they have the biggest global investor base!

    Every single country in the world [including the US, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Britain, France] need and are looking for investors.
    Getting serious investors into a country is really tough because of the competition from other countries, including even other African countries.

    There are some African countries that are remarkably good at securing investment. I won’t mention them because some immature people will get all emotional because their country is left out.

    Here in Singapore, where I’m attending an invitation only global investment forum, all the giants from government and business are here.

    My friend Aliko Dangote is here and we are going to do something together later in the week. Unfortunately we are not able to stream it on Facebook Live.

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Update from Bloomberg Singapore Summit:
    One of the highlights of the event [for me personally] was a lunch time session, when four African business leaders led a discussion on “why Invest in Africa”.
    -Mr Aliko Dangote,
    -Mrs Folorunso Alakija [she is the wealthiest woman in Africa]
    -Mr Jim Ovia [founder of Zenith Bank]
    -Mr Strive Masiyiwa

    The meeting was packed out, and included some of the biggest global investors.
    This “peer to peer” discussion is what modern investors like, because they are listening to people who have risked their own money.

    Reply
  12. Milton

    Thank you, I have always been a follower and i believe the eight-percent of the person i have become in the past 3 years is the one you created.

    It is most important to always see something good in everything, that’s a faith-based fact. Growing in a continent like Africa specifically Zimbabwe as a country where we believed investing in education only to get employed by some prospering and high salary paying company has landed us into a greatly learned but unemployed society ever to exist in the whole world. Well with my entrepreneurial eye and a God moved heart i visualize a Vocational Skill Training Center in a remote town of Mvurwi, Mashonaland Central which is surrounded by deprived former farm workers. At least for a start I intent to transform lives of the people of this area through addressing adverse issues that range from food insecurity, poverty, lack of education for the children, unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse; and unhealthy sexual. These issues can easily be addressed by occupying their hands and making people self-employable through skills like tailoring/sewing, electric wiring and fittings, hair dressing and beauty, catering, carpentry and joinery etc.

    Personally, we have a family farm in that area where we do maize farming and we have been able to employ people of about 100 and now at least they are now able to feed their families, pay for school fees, just enjoying their existence. The first time we landed into our designated farm there was lesser of life for these people but God made it possible that these lives be transformed. But I still feel we are not doing enough therefore a Vocational Skillls Training Center will do more life transformation impact and for a start in January 2019 i intend to start a free two month tailoring skills training enrolling at least 8-15 people (16-22 aged school drop-outs) . For a fair distribution the students will be chosen from different former farm workers’ villages that surround the Mvurwi remote town using the same town again as the place of exercise as it is the central point for them. A local tailor will be employed for the coaching exercise. Once the beneficiaries are done and certified, it is my wish that we can venture into the designs and sewing of clothes business for sale to earn ourselves income. So is the vision on all other vocational skills to be conducted by my intended Vocational Skills Training Center, its meant to be an income-generation activity however for a start i am appealing for well wisher donations as the beneficiaries have no money to pay for that service now, i understand seeking donations wont be easy but however it will be easier for me to do than how hard the lives of these people are, so i choose to carry their cross as i live.

    I have worked on the project proposal that i have been sending around appealing for donations. To begin with, my family vowed to support the project with all there is since they have since been working hard in changing the lives of the people through our farm employment and other random assistance they granted. In this initial sewing training, my family will be paying rentals of the room we are hiring for class conducts. Other donations will cover up the purchase of sewing machines and cloth, payment of the trainer and other associated costs.

    Strategically in the near future investors will be the driving force as there will be a lot of income generating activities leveraged by the skilled the beneficiary would have generated. The sewing training will however act as a pilot program for the Vocational Skills Training Center Roll-out. I believe in your philosophy which is a concept that drives humanity and only a few in this world will see things in the way you do Sir, only God made it possible. it will be a better world if we live for other.

    Thank you, God bless

    Reply
  13. Wallace

    Hope this find you in good spirit
    So today a friend of mine just notified me of a certain comment you made on the entrepreneur tourist, which coincides with an idea/dream I once shared with him, so I don’t know I you are still helping out that is in terms advice or as you said help with investors for I believe this idea I have is mind blowing, Thank you for the platform Mr sir be blessed

    Reply

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