This is how we start (Part 4)

__Proud of some of my former cubs!

More and more often I read comments like the one I am going to share below and I just want to say — congratulations. Some of you are really no longer “cubs” anymore. During the storms, you soared like eagles, and you’re still flying. You remembered #NothingTurnsOnThis when challenges arose, and got back up into the sky. You stayed focused and did your homework. You identified gaps and created opportunities out of problems. You crunched your numbers and tidied your pitches again and again… and you didn’t take no for an answer!

You kept knocking, and when doors “started” to open, you were ready. You had prepared.

Now I know many still think it’s impossible for small and medium size businesses (SMEs) in Africa, like some of yours, to raise even $1 USD in equity capital, let alone millions. But some of you right here are proving the naysayers wrong. You’re launching up, up and away! And if you’re not in flight yet, you’re perched on the edge of the nest…

While I don’t know the specific business situation of the #person whose comment I’m sharing below, I think reading about his learning #process and #mindset is something all of you will be inspired by.

Well done to Japhat who writes:

“Strive, I wish I could buy you a tangible gift but as far as I’m concerned you can already afford anything and everything that money can buy. You taught me the most valuable of business lessons through your mere mention of Stephen Schwarzman.

A few years ago I came to learn about Stephen Schwarzman (Co-founder and Chairman of Blackstone, the largest private equity firm in the world by AUM) from one your posts. It led me to Helios Investment Partners (Africa focused private equity firm based in London) , KKR, Apollo, BlackRock, TPG, Credit Suisse, UBS, JPMorgan, Jefferies, Stifel, GV, NEA, KPCB (now called Kleiner Perkins), etc. It led me to things like M&A, IPO, Convertible Notes, Mezzanine Debt, etc. But most importantly it taught me how to RAISE CAPITAL. It taught me how to look at business opportunities through the eyes of an investor and I can safely say today that (raising) capital is the last thing on my checklist and the least of my concerns as an aspiring entrepreneur. I’ve come to learn that a sound “business plan” (not the piece of paper) will get you funded no matter what, no matter how long it takes, if you know where to look and who to talk to.

Maybe, just maybe, one day (after building a reputation for pure excellence and integrity) I’ll consider establishing an SME “investment bank” to raise capital on behalf of small and medium enterprises for a fee.

Thank you for the great lessons.”

How’s that for inspiration from one of your peers on this platform? Japhat has read these posts and also clearly did his own homework, and then it seems his entrepreneurial journey continued onward and upward… which is something you all must also do! Wow.

Now I know many others of you on this platform have your own inspiring stories, but this comment a few days ago got my attention, maybe because raising capital is really difficult to tackle when you’re a young African entrepreneur getting started or just about ready to go to the next step and grow…

Let’s talk.

If you were advising a new cub reading on this platform today (perhaps not yet in the Senior Class) what lessons would you say that he or she should focus on?

# What advice or training or network really helped you yourself get started as an entrepreneur?

# What kept you going through the rough times?

# Other than your search for funding (which we’ll talk about again), what other kinds of support as an entrepreneur have you needed that you couldn’t find anywhere?

Your answers here are important!

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 start (Part 4)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    While you all must do your own homework to find online classes, my team also likes to keep their eyes open for you. Here’s a course that starts on 20 November. It’s called “How to finance your venture.” Be sure that you all share information with each other about other courses you discover. If you’ve taken some online courses, please let people here know what you think. Part of “getting started” means helping fellow entrepreneurial travelers along the way (flight path).

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.

    Some of you in both the senior and junior classes might want to take a look at online courses offered on Wall Street Prep, a website that offers training to some of the world’s top companies, such as investment banks, private equity firms and more. If you’re interested in getting into finance, go through the site and let me know what you think. Here’s the link:

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The fact that something is not in the headlines does not mean, it no longer happening!
    Take the Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. We are still out there fighting. I spoke to Dr K [CEO of Higher Life Foundation] today, who is coordinating our own participation. He told me that although there are no more fatalities, the infections are now down to about 11 a day, much less than over 200 when the emergency started.
    54 confirmed deaths is just not acceptable.
    Dr K, and his team actually report to my wife, and this type of work is her full time job.
    We will stay the course on this for may be the next two years or more.
    We want to make sure Cholera never returns.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    I will never forget the day I was flying somewhere and read a long magazine article about the work of Bill and Melinda Gates in fighting disease in Africa, and around the world.
    It was my first time to read about their work.
    I was so moved, I decided to pray for this amazing couple right there, with tears in my eyes:
    “Lord thank you for giving us Bill and Melinda Gates.. thank you for giving them so much..” I began.
    “I know they don’t have to do this, and indeed there are many that have surplus money and yet do nothing…”

    One of my favorite bible verses is 2 Corinthians 9:8 in the Amplified Translation.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to scale a business these days, if you have #Product, #People, #Process.
    Two weeks ago we launched Vaya Lift in Zimbabwe. It is now national and has over 8500 Driver/Partners.
    They need so many drivers/Partners they cannot cope!

    Recruitment and roll out teams have already started work in Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, Burundi, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda. All these will start early in the new year!
    We need 250,000 driver/ partners!

    Learn the scale #Process of SharedEconomy businesses models.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    You will recall I told you about how the CEO of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe began a program to clean up several townships as part of his effort to stop the spread of Cholera.
    He recruited almost 1000 volunteers [mostly young people], and gave them trucks and equipment. They have cleared and destroyed rubbish that had accumulated in these areas for years.
    A few days ago, he told that they have finished clearing in the “epi-Centers” where the disease broke out.

    “What are you going to do with all those young people?” I asked him.
    The entrepreneur in me, kicked in:
    “Why don’t we organize them into small community ventures?”
    “We can give them impact investment funds and loans. They can continue to do the work once we are gone.”

    We now have people working to help them set up their own “Sanitation and Refuse Collection mini Companies”!

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Mc Coezar writes,

    Dr Strive Masiyiwa are all the recruitment and rollout teams current stuff at Vaya Lift or the recruitment process is agent based?

    My reply,
    In each country we already have an office. We have sales and marketing people and field personal.
    We also have agents on the ground.
    Each driver must be carefully vetted, and checks done on criminal record.
    Then we inspect the car.
    Each car is fitted with a special tracking device by our Technites.
    The driver is a self contained “entrepreneur” and business partner.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to scale a business these days, if you have #Product, #People, #Process.
    Two weeks ago we launched Vaya Lift in Zimbabwe. It is now national and has over 8500 Driver/Partners.
    They need so many drivers/Partners they cannot cope!

    Recruitment and roll out teams have already started work in Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, Burundi, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda. All these will start early in the new year!
    We need 250,000 driver/ partners!

    Learn the scale #Process of SharedEconomy businesses models.

  9. Stephen Kamugasa

    I would advise any young cub reading contributions on this blog thus:

    1) First thing you must do is to invest in yourself. By investing in yourself I meaning, if you have the opportunity for an education, pursue it with one mind; that is, until you complete all that is required of you to graduate. For a good education is an investment for life, no one can take it away from you; it’s really worth it.
    2) The second piece of advice follows on to the above, namely, the friendships you make along your journey of acquiring an education will stand you in good stead for life. They are the basis of your network. I speak as one who is both a barrister and a holder of an MBA. The friendships I formed along my education journey are the basis of my network; they are my reference points in my ever growing circle of friends and contacts. This holds true both in professional life and in an entrepreneurial role.
    3) A credible vision which was and still is bigger than me is what kept me going when times were tough. My vision was organic and has changed over time – culminating in my present vision: My aim in life is to inspire others to turn challenges into coherent and meaningful solutions – focusing on humanity, leadership and citizenship.
    4) In addition to a simple but clear vision, I have found that finding a soulmate is the best support you can ever hope for. A combination of a soulmate who is prepared to stand with you through thick and thin, and a great vision will help you overcome many obstacles – both human and material (including funding).
    Finally, and as a bonus, please attend to your spiritual needs; for man does not live by bread alone…

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Lawal writes,

    Dr Strive i need inform that the Government of Nigeria have ultimately decided to bring regulations which will support the success of mobile money in the country after previous failure of MPESA…
    This is goodnews as I’ve always been intrigued whenever mobile money is being mentioned by my friends in East Africa.

    Now MTN Nigeria is going for the license in 2019 but I strongly believe in Ecocash to create more of the business opportunities.

    Do Rush down here! and accept this info as my little THANK YOU GIFT.

    My reply,
    If I did not know that I would have to retire from my job.
    If you are in a particular type of business there are always some things that it is mandatory for you to know—preferably even the first to know!
    Nigeria is an important market and we track such things incredibly closely, and we even have full time being on the ground, whose job relies of knowing such things.

    Nevertheless I really I appreciate your thinking of me!

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Cassava Listing Update:
    One more week to go!
    Next Thursday (29th) the shareholders of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe will gather for a meeting [Extraordinary General Meeting—EGM] to vote on the splitting of Cassava from the telecoms group. If they approve, it will be listed separately on the exchange as an independent company.
    Since the publication of the “Circular” advising the shareholders, there have been daily activities by management. This includes visiting large shareholders on roadshows in SA and London.
    Many shareholders have already voted in advance by sending in their ballots which we call proxies.
    On Tuesday, which was the deadline set by the rules of the exchange, Econet went “ex parte” which means it stopped including Cassava in its trading. This meant from that day you could only buy shares in the telecoms business without Cassava.
    As an entrepreneur, this is an opportunity to observe and learn a lot of things that you will need to know one day, if you have the vision to build a big company.
    1+ 2=3
    When Econet and Cassava were together they were worth [1+2=3]
    Our expectation is that when we split them and they trade separately they will be worth more than the whole:
    We will only know after 11th December, if we were right!

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Michael writes,

    I want to buy sir. Trust you will do your best to make it available for all.

    My reply,
    Michael, for the person who knows what they are doing, shares in a public listed African company are available to all. There is nothing more I need to do for you to access, because they are there!

    It would take me less than two hours to buy shares of a company in almost any African country with a Stock Exchange. It would be even quicker if I were buying in New York or Shanghai!
    It’s not rocket science, as millions of ordinary people do it every day.

    I want you to get to a place in your understanding where you can buy shares as easily as buying a packet of sugar in a shop.

    What you really need is Knowledge. Go for the knowledge of money and wealth.

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Mugikuyu writes,

    hi sir i have been very keen on every lesson and japhat is a motivation to me as well in this classes.
    well my take on the questions you put out is other than raising funding as an entrepreneur the biggest challenge i personally had was to believe in myself, i knew my product MIGHT work but i kept questioning why me like why would i emerge at the top despite everyone else who has a good idea and much resources than i do.
    i eventually started reading your posts and asking God for guidance and i realized that even if i tried and failed i wouldn’t have to live with the regret of never trying at all….so i sold all my house properties and i moved back into my mothers house and i used the money i had to invest on building an APP idea i had. i thought of reaching out to get funding then i realized no one will ever fund an idea at all and so i went all in alone and i put in all the work needed and 6 months ago i launched the App and i have been working on it day and night and God has really been faithful its now a company with more than 15 employees and growing steadily..i am yet to approach investors for funding because i have been obsessed with the idea of starting small but thinking big!! My point was “i got here with no funding at all, i am even starting to believe if anyone is asking for funding to fund their idea they are not Entrepreneurs at all.
    no one should fund you to go risk their money on your own ideas,a proper business plan with alittle proof to it will always do the magic.

    My reply,
    When your App is ready, I will ask my team to sit down with you, so that we can do a full write up on it.
    In the new year, I will ask the Cassava leadership team to host you for two weeks so that you can consult them about anything. Don’t worry they will be strictly forbidden from taking over your project. If you decide to invite us to invest, we will consider taking a small stake if it is within our own strategic interest area.
    I want your project to happen!
    I’m proud of you and all those who have taken this leap of faith.

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Emmanuel writes,

    Thanks this great step.
    Can the team setting up this volunteers extend their mentorship hand to others like me here in Nigerian?
    I run an industrial cleaning firm and will really appreciate their support.

    My reply,
    The team in Zimbabwe was not set up to provide mentor ship, but to help STOP spread of Cholera following an outbreak that has killed over 50 people.
    The volunteers were young people [mostly unemployed] who were helping with a campaign of awareness, as well as cleaning up areas where the disease outbreak started.
    We are simply trying to find a way to help these young people now that the work is coming to an end.

    I have visited your website for your business. It is really well done and very professional. Others can learn a lot from you.
    Keep it up.

  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Rakel writes,

    Talking of conditions..I learned that from you..beginning from where i am..been reaching out to my community..type 2 diabetes is non communicable but is becoming a threat.been conducting free medical camps with my friends..and with this we reach many and give health talks on healthy living..good diet..we had one early this month..we are conducting another one next month.we also encourage them to run small scale businesses.. Its working..

    My reply,
    This is a phenomenal initiative, and one which should be carried out in every African country!
    Diabetes is a major challenge in Africa and India. People are going blind, and losing limbs, whilst hundreds of thousands die every year.

    You are helping to save thousands of lives.

    The key to helping people with type 2 Diabetes is to get them to appreciate that the term “sugar” diabetes is a misnomer. What they need to reduce drastically from their diets is starch [carbohydrates], things like rice, maize meal, Cassava, bread, pizza, and alcohol. These things become sugar in the blood stream. They should never, ever drink fizzy drinks like Coke.

    Well done!
    I think we should do a bigger write up your work.

  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ra Icon asks,

    Sir, I’m still asking this question for the second time. Are you building these new technologies with reusable software properties or you are building them from the ground up considering the speed at which you are able to launch them?

    My reply,
    A modern business must be an innovation machine. Every single person working there must be developing new products and new innovations around existing products and services.
    When I sit down with any of our people, one of my key questions is:
    “Update me on your innovations pipeline.”
    If there are no new products and services coming through, we are dead as a business!

  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Jerry Masungo wrote last week:
    “Ideas are overrated, what matters is process”:
    In a way he was right.
    The “idea” part of a new venture is actually a very small part of setting up a successful business venture. Everyone can think, but not everyone can build a successful business.
    I did not invent cell phones, and I was not the first person to get a telecoms license in Africa. There are dozens of people who got licenses to do all sorts of lucrative business ventures, and still ended up broke.
    Aliko did not invent cement, but he is a clinical [laser focused] executor of his ventures.
    When you get an idea, even if it is not original, the key is execution [#People, and #Processes].

    Experienced investors are not going to be impressed simply because you have an idea, they want to know that you can execute that idea into a money spinning venture. That is the tough part.

  18. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #ShoutOut Adereni Everyone!

    Strive Masiyiwa Good Evening sir

    I’m pleased to share with you sir that my social enterprise-HelpMum won the start-up category for the UN start-up and scale up for SDG at the United Nations Headquarter in Geneva,Switzerland last week among 12 social entrepreneurs across the world

    We got some funding(5,000 dollars) that would help us reach more pregnant women in rural and remote areas in Nigeria ,so that they can have the best possible care during delivery

    This is link to the above story

    I would also love to inform othat we were also among the 12 finalist for the Google impact challenge in Nigeria (sponsored by and with this we are in the race for the people choice award (which we would get 250,000 dollars for our work if we emerge as the winner )

    Voting for this closes tomorrow sir ,I would appreciate if you can help us share with your network and friends

    As this would make us reach out to 100,000 pregnant women with our HelpMum Clean birth with a solar lamp in remote and underserved areas in Nigeria,if we win

    This is the link to vote sir

    Thank you sir for your support,help and your constant words of encouragement to young entrepreneurs like me that anything is possible to achieve if you believe and work toward it

    God bless you sir

  19. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Justin writes,

    Wen i checked the stocks on Monday the EWZ share price had closed above $2.40 then on Tuesday it took a dive to close $1.65. My first thot twas investors reacting to the unbundling of value – selling their stocks. It took me the whole day to understand wat was happening on EWZ’s share price. Sir am learning its my first time to witness (unbundling of value) i do pray it will be a success.

    My reply,
    I’m glad you now understand what happened.
    For those of you who didn’t understand:
    Tuesday is the day Econet separated Cassava from its trading price.
    The price of $2.40 per share included Cassava. The new price of $1.65 is now only the telecoms company [it has since risen to $1.90].
    When Cassava starts trading on 11 December it will have its own price.
    We will only know on that date what is the value of Cassava. Will it be a Ferrari that was hiding inside a big truck?


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