Strive Masiyiwa was born in what was Southern Rhodesia
in 1961. He went to High school in Scotland
; he gained a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Cum Laude) at the University of Wales, returning to newly independent Zimbabwe in 1984, where he took a job with the state-owned telephone company. He later grew up to his own engineering company.
Strive is a committed Christian. He lives in Johanessburg
, South Africa
, with his wife, Tsitsi, and six children.
In 1994 Strive Masiyiwa sold his interest in Retrofit Engineering and through his family company TS Masiyiwa Holdings began to invest heavily in telecommunication establishing Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd, Zimbabwe's first cellular operator. His initial attempts to get the company licensed met with fierce opposition first from the ZPTC. Masiyiwa then mounted a constitutional legal battle in the courts of Zimbabwe which led to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe declaring the telephone service monopoloy unconstitutional. He also got political support from then President Robert Mugabe's deputy, Dr Joshua Nkomo who later declared that the young businessman had the right to invest in his native country. The four-year legal battle culminated in Econet Wireless being licensed to provide wireless telecommunication services in December 1997.
Through his management and leadership, Econet Wireless launched service in July 1998 beginning in Zimbabwe's capital Harare
and rapidly expanding to all the major cities within six months. It took Econet Wireless only three months to wrestle market leadership from the ZPTC's own cellular operation which had been set up two years earlier under the management support of Detecon a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom.
At the same time as the battles were raging in Zimbabwe's courts over the licensing of Econet Wireless, Strive and his team put together a consortium to bid for the international tender in the neighbouring country of Botswana which resulted in the consortium being awarded that country's first cellular license. The Botswana operation took exactly six weeks to bring into full commercial operation making it one of the fastest roll outs of a GSM network in Africa.
In September 1998 at the height of the global emerging market crisis, Strive and his team undertook a successful international IPO for the group's flagship company, Econet Wireless Holdings, making it one of only three listed telecoms stocks in Sub Saharan Africa
. It is now the largest companies by market capitalisation on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). First established in 1896, the ZSE is not only one of the oldest stock exchanges in the developing world with nearly 80 member companies, it has always been a vibrant emerging market stock exchange. Today Econet Wireless, generates revenue of more than $300 million a year, making it one of Africa's five largest telecom companies. Econet's operation includes cellular and fixed-line businesses in Zimbabwe, Burundi
. The company also owns a 3G license in New Zealand
. In New Zealand Econet will soon launch that country's third GSM network. He also owns a cellular licence in Kenya and
will soon be launching the network.
Amongst his other business leadership achievements Strive was a member of the coordinating committee which set up the Social Dimensions Fund (SDF), an initiative to alleviate the impact of poverty arising during the implementation of economic reforms in Zimbabwe. He was also a founding member of the African Latin American Institute at Punta Del Este in Uruguay in 1994. The institute promotes cultural, educational and business linkages between Southern Africa and the Mercusior region of Latin America.
Strive has served on numerous boards and trusts both in Zimbabwe and internationally. In 1995 Strive was appointed by American President Bill Clinton
to a Board Member of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund (SAEDF) which is chaired by Ambassador Andrew Young
. He is currently also a member of Thebe Investment Corporation of South Africa, an empowerment company that was set up by the Mbabatho Trust of the ANC.
Strive has won numerous business awards and recognitions. Notable of these are the following: in 1990 he was the youngest ever recipient of Zimbabwe's coveted Businessman of the Year Award; in 1998 he was named his countries Manager of the Year as well as Entrepreneur of the Year. He was recently named by Junior Chamber International (JCI) as one of the "Ten Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World" for 1999. In 2002 he was named to Time Magazine
's Global Business Influentials List. He is also known as the Bill Gates of Africa, on account of his business and entrepreneurial savvy. He is a workaholic who has bucket loads of guts and passion to achieve his goals notwithstanding anything standing in his way.
He was also the publisher of the Daily News
, Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, shut down by the government in late 2003 after its management refused to comply with new media regulations which required that media organisations be registered with a government commission.
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