Next Chapter: How I Entered Into The Cell Phone Business (Part 2)

AS SEEN ON Dr Strive’s FB Page


It took me more than a year of research and study to finally have a business plan. I then approached the best investment banker in the country, at the time. His name was Dr Nkosana Moyo, and he was CEO of Standard Chartered Merchant Bank Zimbabwe.

I called my new business, “Enhanced Communications Network”. Dr Moyo read my business plan and his key comment was ” can I suggest a name change? I think you should call it, ECONET. This is a great project, we are happy to fund it. I have put together a team to work on it. I also have the support of our head office in London”.

Since we would need access to special radio frequencies, we would have to approach my former employers the public telephone operator, They were not only a monopoly they were also the regulator!

We decided that it would be best to propose that they form a joint venture with me. They could have 51%, and I would have 49%. I would also raise all the funding and manage the business. The bank wrote the letter on my behalf, to show them that this was a serious proposal.

What happened next must surely rank, amongst the greatest follies in the world of business: They could have owned the Econet Wireless Group, but Instead they declared war on me!

They told us that mobile telephony was a passing fad which would never succeed. And that they were too busy, with more important things!

I immediately, suggested that since they were not interested. Could they please allocate me the necessary frequencies, so that I could proceed to offer the service, to the public. This time, they read me the “Riot Act”; reminding me that they have a monopoly over everything telecoms.

I refused to go away: ” How can you have a monopoly over something you do not want to do?” I asked. They responded by threatening me with prosecution, if I so much as tried!

One of the bankers in Dr. Nkosana Moyo’s office, was a lawyer, by the name of Ian Donovan. As we sat in their offices, studying the latest reply, he pulled out the Telecommunications Act, and began to take me through it.
“…these guys are wrong about this Act. If I were you, I would approach the court and obtain a declaratory order, saying you have a right to proceed”.

“Is it really, that simple?” I asked.
“Let’s go for it!” I finally declared.

The bank said they could not get involved in a legal battle, but wished me well. And this is how the most celebrated legal battle, in the history of telecommunications in Africa began. It was to take five painful years.

To be continued…

Afterthought 1

You should know by now that continuous reading, and study is part of my approach to everything I do:
“Good leaders are readers. They are always current, on best practice, in their industry and their field.”
The other day, I was going through my librar
y of books, and I noticed something very interesting:
1. Most of my books, are on entrepreneurship and business issues.
2. Most of my business books, are on management related issues.
3. I do not borrow books; I buy them. You are not serious about an issue until you pay something for it (Prov 23:23).

Try always to know the “best practice”. Always ask yourself:
“What is the current, and best practice in this area”? Things are always changing, and what was a good approach, a few years ago, may have been superseded. This is particularly so, in management, and business leadership. If you do not do this, you and your organisation will become inefficient and uncompetitive.

Afterthought 2

Something spiritual:
As I went through those difficult years, The Lord put this passage of scripture( below) on my heart, and I often shared on it. I knew that I would prevail, but most important for you today, I also knew that my testimony would one d
Whatever it is you are going through, keep the “faith”; hold on to your values, and your integrity.
In the next few weeks, as I share this part of my journey, I will show you how I came to get the prevailing faith, which is key to everything.

Luke 22:31-32
Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain,
But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.

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