BY ADEOLU ADESANYA
This is a personal piece, I had written to myself almost a year ago now, and I just decided to share it today. Hope you like it.
It’s interesting how little I know about some people, but I still choose to be inspired by them. All my life, I have loved to read about business people, most especially how they made they their money, and how they got their ‘big break’. Some how, some how, I’m continually spurred on by this, my drive is sharpened and I know without a doubt success is easily achievable, if all these people were able to do it.
I just got to know of this humble man called Strive Masiyiwa. I had heard of him before, many times even, but never took time to find out slight details about him. But here I am at a Christian Conference a celebration of financial partners, which I am also privileged to be part of, and this man has been adjudged the top partner. WHO IS HE? I thought to myself, (I can comfortably list 90% of known wealthy people in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole). There and then, with my smartphone, I “googled” him, result: he owns Econet. That was all I needed and I was inspired (because he is a devout billionaire Christian, and giving towards the spread of the gospel).
But how come do we know so little about some people (celebrities, business men, e.t.c), and with those little details, still choose to be inspired by them?
Is it possible that, sometimes we might just choose to know a little but still be compelled to be inspired by them?
But seeing it from another angle, nobody cares until you’ve made it, and making it young is very sweet, I tell you. And that’s another thing I have picked from Strive Masiyiwa, he started his career as an engineer working with the government and after 4 years as an employee, at the age of 27 he decided to set up his own electrical contracting firm named Retrofit Engineering, because he was frustrated with the government bureaucracy.
His big break came when he recognized the great potential for wireless telephones in sub-Saharan Africa back in the 1990s. Strive Masiyiwa first approached ZPTC (his previous government employers) about forming a mobile telephone network in Zimbabwe. The company wasn’t interested, however, saying that cell phones had no future in the country.
NOTE TO SELF: This is a common trend, in almost all the stories I have read, there always is one person, advising against a great business idea. And most times, this discouragement comes from people very close to us.
He desired to go it alone, there were loads of challenges, he founded the mobile phone company Econet in 1993, but the network didn’t go live until 1998, because of objections from the Zimbabwe government, a good 5 year battle. But needless to say it was all worth it at the end of the day.
His company Econet has presence in over 15 countries, including New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The company has now also diversified into satellite communications, fixed-line telephone services, and Internet service. Strive Masiyiwa exemplified vision and persistence, and these are trait that I know are required for success.
The young man who started out as a government employee at 23, and decided to go private at 27, now he serves as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, as a jury of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and on the board of Southern African Enterprise Development Fund. And along with Richard Branson, he is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room.
These are the details I have chosen to know about Strive Masiyiwa. Thinking about it now, I really don’t care about how much I know, I just want to be inspired. In the news last week, I read of the famous Motivational/Financial Education Expert Robert Kiyosaki the writer of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ filled for bankruptcy for one of his companies. But the guy still inspires me.