Image credit: Ubuntu Hope. Soweto, South Africa.

This is how we start (Part 5)

__Ideas + no actions = ?

One of our members on this platform commented a few days ago that he thinks “ideas are overrated.” I took a little while to reflect on this comment, and then I came to the conclusion that he has a point. While there is really nearly nothing more exciting in this world than believing you have a totally original idea that no one, now or before, has ever had, the idea is only a start…

When it happens, you must apply for a patent, copyright or trademark so that others can pay you license fees for using your idea.

That’s all good, but it’s not the only thing entrepreneurship is about:

__You can still be a very successful entrepreneur, even if you are not the originator of the idea, if you are able to adopt and adapt something successfully for your own market (of course, respecting Intellectual Property. If you don’t know what that is, it’s part of your homework).

I wish I could tell you that I invented mobile phones. I didn’t, and neither did anyone who makes money from them today. When I was a student engineer at college, I remember discussing mobile phones with my professors. The first commercial systems started being available in the 1970’s in the USA.

Aliko Dangote did not invent cement, nor was he the first person in Nigeria to think about building a cement plant. What sets him apart is his entrepreneurial capacity to execute skillfully, using #People and #Process.

What is a McDonald’s? Is it not a hamburger that can be cooked in your mother’s kitchen? Yet someone took that humble burger, and turned it into a global business with a market capitalization last week of $140bn+. If McDonald’s was a country, it would be bigger than most African countries, except for Nigeria and South Africa.

How did this happen? Was the “idea” of a hamburger a new one at the time? Well, you tell me…

Now there is not a single African company today as big as McDonald’s. Or even half the size of McDonald’s. Why?! Why?!

The “hamburger” was not an original idea invented by McDonald’s. The guy who built the billion-dollar burger company was a master of #Process! And what else?

You can build a million-dollar enterprise in almost anything you can imagine. Even if it is collecting rubbish on the street, there are guys out there in the world who have used it to propel themselves to global business scale.

The idea you have, whether original or something you have read about or seen in another country, is not actually the entrepreneurship. This only begins when you take concrete steps to make it happen.

Where are you on the journey today (part 5 of this series)?

# Have you been listening and learning?

# Are your entrepreneurial eyes open to solving problems around you?

# Are you #WiredForOpportunity?

Let’s not just talk…

Let’s execute ideas!

What are the first 10 steps you must take, after you have the idea? (No prizes; it is too important).

To be continued. . .

by 17 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.

17 thoughts on “This is how we start (Part 5)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.

    Most of you know by now that you should not to share your new business ideas here on this social media platform or any other one. You also shouldn’t talk about them in public while riding in a taxi, bus or plane, or even at a bar with your friends. Your original ideas might not be executed yet, but they still have value, maybe a LOT.

    I have told you here before that talking to people about such ideas can be like putting your wallet on a bar and walking out the door and leaving it behind…

    There are rules for protecting Intellectual Property (IP) that you should be sure to know about and respect. Here is just one link to get you started:

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    Every time I start something, there is always someone who tries to convince me that they “thought about it first.” Only someone very naive thinks like that!

    “So are you the only one who thinks?”

    “It’s not about what you ‘thought’ but what you did!”

    I did not get a letter from Uber saying “Hey, you have copied us. We were first!”

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Lawal writes,

    Dr strive, the word “Process” sound like a thousand step being put up in one word.(and majority find it very difficult to break up)…unlike “People” and “Product” which are very clear on their terms.

    I have to admit Chief that #Process is the hardest job of every Entrepreneur.

    My reply,
    Yes, that is correct:
    #Process is the hardest part.
    When I was a young entrepreneur I was totally obsessed with #PROCESS.

    One of my favorite all time books was a small book by a former Microsoft executive [Larry Bossidy], entitled:


    I was also a disciple of the work of an American called Edward Deming.
    I read all his books.
    Peter Drucker was another favorite of mine.

    We have to be more conscious of the fact that #GETTING THINGS DONE!
    Is driven by a discipline around #Process!

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    During the long legal saga [which went on for 5 years] there were several attempts to break the impasse:
    One of the solutions offered was for there to be just one license in which everyone had 25% out of 4 competing groups.
    The Vice President of Zimbabwe at the time, urged me to accept the offer. I said I did not want to work with the other groups, and suggested that they be given a separate license so there were three licenses including that of the state.

    “Let’s have three operators”, I suggested.
    The following day the Vice President came back with a counter proposal:
    “They say you should all be in one license, and that you should be the one who runs it.”
    I refused outright:
    “Baba, why can’t they just let me have my own license?”
    The old man burst out laughing:
    “They know what I know!”
    “What is that Baba?” I asked innocently.
    “If there are three operators, you will not only dominate but you will eat them for breakfast! Your competitors are talkers with briefcases, and you are a roaring shumba!”
    We both laughed.

    You know I rejected the single license solution, and had to wait two years for a court ruling. Meanwhile my competitors were given two years head start.
    I was not bothered because I had mastered the “3Ps”:
    #Products: it was wave upon wave of new products and services.
    #People: smart young men and women,
    We built an efficient management system.

    It took us just two months to eclipse our competitors.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Adebimpe writes,

    There is a proverb in my indigenous Yoruba language and am going to be translating it.The sky is so big enough for various birds to fly without them colliding on each other.It just depends on your smartness,God grace factor,perseverance e.t.c.Bravo sir!!!very apt

    My reply,
    I love Yoruba proverbs!

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Hlanganiso writes,

    I know this is a long shot and the odds of you replying back to this email are slim, but here goes anyway.

    I am a Zimbabwean born entrepreneur, currently studying at the University of Sussex for my bachelor’s degree. whilst in my first year at uni I started a social enterprise aimed at tackling the energy issue faced in Zimbabwe, where 67% are living without electricity. initially the project started of a student run society where we converted old washing machine motors into small scale vertical wind turbines capable of producing 200w of electricity, before pivoting to last mile distribution of pico solar grids. Within the last year, we’ve made incredible traction! we’ve moved into our first office in brighton completed one research trip and an implementation trip and are currently going through a seed funding round for our next commercial pilot scheme in June 2019. (have a look at our website for more info )

    My reply,
    This is amazing!
    I really believe that every entrepreneurial student should start a business or social enterprise as you have done.
    Soon getting even a job will require a person to be interviewed for entrepreneurship.
    It is still critical that you try and complete your education because it will be very helpful for you, even when you come to run this business.
    I have studied your website and I’m impressed. You are on the right path.
    This is a crowded field which is in need of the next big breakthrough and I hope it will come from your team.
    Sustainability is every thing.
    Years ago I set up Solarway, which became the largest supplier of solar lanterns and similar products, in Africa. I later sold it.
    Now I’m working on really big systems through our company DPA Africa, and also on community systems through Ugesi Solar.
    I’m sure they will be more than happy to invite you to intern during your vacations, and see what ideas you can get from them.
    My team will connect you to them.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    “Whose report will you believe”?

    —Ron Kenoly [Gospel singer]

    Whenever I read or hear something about anyone or anything, the first thing I do is to check the source and it’s integrity. I also want to make sure I have the information from more than one source of impeccable integrity.

    The truth, any truth, must be tested against a minimum of two impeccable sources of unimpeachable integrity.

    It is almost impossible for you to consume something totally fake and fabricated, if you follow this time honored biblical principle.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Congratulations to Cassava Zimbabwe!

    Yesterday the shareholders of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly [90%] to separate the Technology business from the Telcoms business.
    The technology business, known as Cassava Zimbabwe will now list [independently ] on the Stock Exchange on 11th December. From that day anyone from anywhere in the world can buy and sell shares in the company.

    There were some incredible entrepreneurial lessons in this for everyone on this platform, and that is why I asked you to follow it.

    Remember my objective:
    “Econet Zimbabwe is a like a big haulage truck, which is carrying a hidden Ferrari [Cassava]. I want to reveal the Ferrari, and get it valued as a Ferrari and not as a haulage truck.”
    We call this “unlocking value”.
    Before we announced the plan Econet Wireless alone was worth $3.2bn.

    If the two separated companies [Econet Wireless + Cassava] are worth more than that [after the two are listed] then we have unlocked value.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Thembisile writes,

    #Chief, are you already in South Africa for this huge event… #GlobalCitizen …

    My reply,
    Sadly not.
    I just landed in London from New York, and I’m now headed to Berlin.
    At this time of year I have a lot of commitments on global boards.
    It is good to be a global citizen like you!

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Shout out Adereni!


    Good morning Dr strive masiyawa

    Trust you are doing great sir

    I have a good news to share with you this morning sir

    My social enterprise HelpMum was one of the 4 winners for the Google impact challenge in Nigeria

    We would be receiving 250,000 dollars grants to increase our impact across Nigeria

    This is the link to the new sir

    This reminder me of how you said you raised 250,000 dollars at a young age and you were picked up my security agent in your country, the day I read I prophesy that for my social enterprise and it happened earlier than I expected

    Thank you so much for your constant encouragement sir and you would be plead by the impact we would create with this grant we just got from Google sir

    GOD BLESS YOU AS Always sir

  11. Young1

    Mr Masiyiwa – hoping you can help. As a young Zimbabwean that has left his country to attend college in America, and is now looking for ways to help the people back home – do you know of anyone back in Zimbabwe focusing on charitable initiatives. I’m passionate about making a difference but looking for direction. Would appreciate if you could share details of any projects/people/companies that are looking to go against the status-quo and shape the Zimbabwe of tomorrow.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *