This is how we begin (Part 2)

__Never stop listening and learning. 

Last week I mentioned a favorite quote: “If you want to truly succeed, identify a human need, and reach out to solve it.” As an entrepreneur, let me add this: Don’t simply focus only on what you yourself see as the need; also do your homework to understand the problem from many different angles. You do this by never stopping the process of listening and learning from others, including customers and other credible experts who you respect.

As you all know, sometimes #people will share advice or ideas that you don’t agree with, or even that you don’t really want to hear at all. However, sometimes what you hear in that case can actually be the most helpful to your thinking, even if you still don’t agree with them!

__Listening and learning are a never-ending part of the entrepreneurial #process.

Now I’m leaving Singapore shortly and I have a lot to write you about (I have been reading your comments), but today let me first go ahead and finish the story I started in my last post. You will remember I was talking about Uber and Lyft, the two multibillion dollar App-based ride-hailing companies, one which was inspired by a (visionary) entrepreneurial tourist who got an idea whilst watching busy traffic in a certain African city…

Not long ago, I started talking to some of our innovative team about these two amazing businesses. As usual, they had some ideas:

“Mr Masiyiwa, this works exactly like our mobile money. In fact, the coding structure is very similar. The revenue model is exactly the same,” said one of our innovators.

“In our mobile money business, like EcoCash, our entrepreneur is the guy who owns the shop (and the money) — the EcoCash agent. We source customers using our platform, we create the exchange mechanism, and we are paid a commission,” he continued.

“70% of the money we get goes to the mobile money agent (entrepreneur) who provides the money.”

Uber does exactly the same thing: The vehicle is like a mobile money agent’s “shop”. The driver is like our own mobile money “agent”.

Uber sources customers for the entrepreneur and gets a commission. They use a highly sophisticated platform which the customer accesses using an App. Uber gives about 60% of the money to the driver.

“We could build this platform quite easily because we have the people at EcoCash.”

“Let’s set up a project to develop our own transport platform,” I finally ordered.

The project team was to look at all platforms that have sprung up around the world, and study their different models.

We chose a team leader.

Soon he came back with different ideas, and also suggestions for us to buy into some startups that had sprung up in Africa.

One of those startups is a company based in Nigeria called KariGo. They focus on delivery services of packages for large companies in Nigeria. We bought into them, and gave them capital. Now they are planning a pan African expansion.

Meanwhile development began in earnest.

Our own App was finally ready!

“I want to see innovations that are not on any other platform,” I began.

“We have added a lot of special features to take on competition which could include Uber, too.”

My team was beaming with excitement.

“What shall we call it?” I asked.

“We have come up with a name: ‘VAYA’ which means ‘Let’s go!’ in Ndebele.”

“I like that!”

“Website?”

“Almost ready.”

“Launch site?”

“Harare, Zimbabwe. Econet Group has 5,000 employees in that city alone. We can test the platform through them before going to customers.”

“Good idea. But I want it across Africa within a year,” I said.

“We are on it. We hope to launch in a new country every month.”

“Launch date?”

“25th October 2018!”

__This is how we start!

Congratulations to our growing Vaya team which is already recruiting drivers in Zimbabwe by the hundreds (growing to the thousands in the next three months), and will be expanding into several other African countries as soon as early December.

__If you have a small van, car, motor bike or even bicycle and would like to get started as an entrepreneur, why not join this new industry? You can find out more at https://www.vayaafrica.com/

So many of the things I taught you are here… I want you to draw up a list of 5x entrepreneurial lessons from this post.

To be continued. . .

by 21 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.

21 thoughts on “This is how we begin (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    The Revenue Model of any business is something you must always study carefully. Few people appreciate that in a mobile money service like EcoCash we give 60-70% of the fees on each transaction to the Agent. Can you give me two reasons for this?

    Reply
  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    As I have written here before, online courses are a huge new opportunity for learners from all generations across Africa and the world. Whilst I am not endorsing this particular course that my team found (don’t know yet of anyone who has taken this one), I am encouraging you to keep your eyes open and take a look at the syllabus and see what you think. Tell us of other courses you know about, too.

    This one is called “New Technologies for Business Leaders.” It’s not designed for IT experts but rather for high-level business people (and entrepreneurs) like some of you, interested in knowing more about new disruptive technologies such as Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and more. https://www.coursera.org/learn/new-technologies-business-leaders

    Reply
  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    As I have said before in discussing the #SharedEconomy Business Model:

    “In Africa we do not have enough of anything, so we must use whatever we have as efficiently as possible.”

    Take the example of motor vehicles. There are many small businesses and even individuals that have vehicles and drivers that are idle 90% of the time. Using platforms like Vaya, and Uber they can register those vehicles and generate revenue for themselves when the vehicles are not in use. It also makes it possible for others to use the vehicles.

    Reply
  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Emmanuel writes,

    Unfortunately, it only favors urban dwellers. I once contacted urber, and they said, it’s for only city dwellers… Very sad I must say.

    My reply,
    I can see you are new to this platform!
    This is a platform where we train entrepreneurs. No entrepreneur would sympathize with your observation!
    Why?
    Please help Emmanuel somebody.
    Keep it short and don’t criticize him. We want him to solve this problem and become rich!

    Reply
  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Reflection:
    As I have said before in discussing the #SharedEconomy Business Model:

    “In Africa we do not have enough of anything, so we must use whatever we have as efficiently as possible.”

    Take the example of motor vehicles. There are many small businesses and even individuals that have vehicles and drivers that are idle 90% of the time. Using platforms like Vaya, and Uber they can register those vehicles and generate revenue for themselves when the vehicles are not in use. It also makes it possible for others to use the vehicles.

    Reply
  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Emmanuel writes,

    Unfortunately, it only favors urban dwellers. I once contacted urber, and they said, it’s for only city dwellers… Very sad I must say.

    My reply,
    I can see you are new to this platform!
    This is a platform where we train entrepreneurs. No entrepreneur would sympathize with your observation!
    Why?
    Please help Emmanuel somebody.
    Keep it short and don’t criticize him. We want him to solve this problem and become rich!

    Reply
  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Diane-Wilma writes,

    Great Dr. Strive. I just completed a month internship at the Lyft Head Quarters in San Francisco and I must say they have multiple amazing teams. I was amazed! Not only are they focused on the app, but the entire ride sharing process and ways to help their drivers earn more. The ideas are simple, but the impact is great!
    I am returning to my country Cameroon, with a changed mindset.
    I look forward to seeing VAYA grow and hopefully using it. And why not possibly joining the team, to contribute some ideas.
    Best

    My reply,
    Our people would like to hear from you!
    Someone is already trying to reach out to you.

    Reply
  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Diane-Wilma writes,

    Great Dr. Strive. I just completed a month internship at the Lyft Head Quarters in San Francisco and I must say they have multiple amazing teams. I was amazed! Not only are they focused on the app, but the entire ride sharing process and ways to help their drivers earn more. The ideas are simple, but the impact is great!
    I am returning to my country Cameroon, with a changed mindset.
    I look forward to seeing VAYA grow and hopefully using it. And why not possibly joining the team, to contribute some ideas.
    Best

    My reply,
    Our people would like to hear from you!
    Someone is already trying to reach out to you.

    Reply
  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ivy writes,

    I had the opportunity to use Vaya while in Zimbabwe for the experiential learning opportunity you sponsored.

    Though successful, you and your team are still actively on the lookout for opportunities to solve real problems in society.

    You inspire me, Sir.

    My reply,
    Vaya is now fully commercial in Zimbabwe. It is growing so fast they can barely cope with the demand for driver/partners.
    Ghana your country is amongst the next group of countries where it will soon be launched. We need lots of driver/partners.
    We look forward to your support.

    Reply
  10. Tinashe Mapfinya

    Thank you Doctor you inspired me to be somebody whom like thought l would never be. .My The Lord Almighty bless you abundantly

    Reply
  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Answer to Afterthought 1.

    The partnership between EcoCash [mobile money service] and the Agents works like this:

    #EcoCash owns the customer who wishes to send or receive money.

    #The Agent owns the premises [location] and also the “cash”.

    The two agents involved in each transaction are using their own money.

    EcoCash gives them access to the customer. The Agent makes a commission on the transaction, and also gets potential business [from other products sold in the store]

    Our agents generally increase their revenue as much as 5x because of being an agent.

    Reply
  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Reflection:

    EcoCash our mobile money service has been one of the most successful services of its kind anywhere in the world. Both the Minister of Finance, and the the Central Bank Governor have spoken often about how helpful it has been to the economy. It has helped make Zimbabwe the most cashless country in the world. It has won numerous international awards.

    It is the backbone of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which is set to be listed in the next few weeks, creating extraordinary value for shareholders, investors and pensioners.

    EcoCash almost never happened!

    Soon after we submitted our proposal to set up the service, a minister in the government [who had nothing to do with financial sector or even telecoms] worked with a banker to prepare a dossier in which they made the most vicious and malicious false allegations I have ever seen. They circulated it in the highest echelons of government, army, security agencies, including to the head of state.

    At the same time the minister and his banker friend submitted their own personal proposal to the central bank and pressed them to stop our proposal.

    This was corruption in plain sight!

    The Central Bank Governor and his staff, to their credit, stood their ground and supported us, despite the pressure from such powerful individuals.

    By God’s amazing grace, a few people in the system, including generals, saw through it, and gave us support.
    Our senior executives were invited to make direct presentations, and even President Mugabe agreed there was nothing wrong with what we were proposing.

    A few years later the banker was found guilty of raping a minor at gun point and is now in prison.
    The minister was part of the group purged from government last year. I really welcomed the departure of such a corrupt individual, even though I have never met him in my life.

    Reply
  13. Tochukwu Egbosi

    Dear Sir,
    I have just started following your write-ups and they are truly amazing. I would like to keep up with all the information from you and I was wondering by chance if there are mentorships directly or indirectly.
    I am also keen on the question you asked regarding a previous comment …. No entrepreneur would sympathize with your observation!
    Why?
    I’ll attempt to answer – could it be that entrepreneurs must seek out opportunities always and the issue raised is in itself a good opportunity for business?

    Reply
  14. Reco Davis

    Dr. Strive, a quick question for you… I am looking to connect Black American athletes and entertainers with African endorsement partners. The hope is that this will help to expand some African businesses, introduce to the US market, and increase Pan-African/diasporic business ties. I’m just not sure where to start. In your opinion, what companies would be a good fit for this? Thank you.

    Reply
  15. Chukwudi Isaac

    Good day Dr. Strive, I have been following your posts for a while and I must truly say you are an inspiration and I really hope to meet you one day but I have 2 questions for now Sir. What is the most important thing in starting up a business? Secondly, how can you position your business strategically in a market to reach local people that are in rural areas and have limited or no idea as to how to use a smartphone?

    Reply
  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Zes writes,

    I like your answer Sir, having a bag of ideas by yourself fearing competition from ground its like the story of that servant in bible, who took his amount and put it underground aiming to return as it is to the master. We must believe and trust ourselves in our business

    My reply,
    I like the way you put this!
    Thank you for teaching me.
    “I hid my idea because I was afraid someone would steal it from me.”
    Entrepreneurship always demands that you take the leap of faith, having taken all reasonable caution.

    Reply
  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Obi writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa I will like to partner with you people in nigeria especially in cities that are not yet covered by uber and others,at least we can whitelist your apps and sites on our hotspots around ,so that more users can access them even without internet connection

    My reply,
    Vaya Africa is coming to Nigeria very soon. We are already planning a major recruitment drive for Driver/Partners.
    Our group has some really smart people in Nigeria. I love them.

    Reply

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