7 things you probably didn't know about Econet Wireless CEO Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is famed for being the CEO of telecom company Econet Wireless, however the business mogul also has business interests that span from New Zealand, across the African continent, and even to America’s East and West Coasts. Alongside his immense fortune, Strive has accrued an almost unrivalled set of honours, from business awards to chairs on politically influential boards. In the past he has faced great debt and even the indignation of Robert Mugabe’s government, but through sheer determination he has prevailed.
1) Christian Values
Many people will be aware that Strive’s approach to business is strongly rooted in Christian teachings – especially for his “zero tolerance of corruption” message. However, few people outside of the African continent know that his mobile telephony company, Econet Wireless, enables its users to subscribe to a daily scripture SMS message.
2) The Best of British
Although he was born in Zimbabwe, Masiyiwa was sent to boarding school in Edinburgh and then went on to successfully complete an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Wales.
3) Youthful advantage
In 1990, in recognition to his hard-fought advances in the telecoms industry, Strive was recognised as Zimbabwe’s Businessman of the Year, when he was 29 years old.
4) Taking on the Mugabe Government
In a bid to improve mobile telephony in his home country, he battled with Zimbabwe’s state monopoly in court and, after many years of legal wrangling, won the freedom to set up his now very successful mobile company Econet Wireless under license.
5) State Harassment
In the early 1990’s, the Masiyiwa family were subjected to a house search by Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and police – the excuse: they were looking for weapons.
6) The Philanthropist
Alongside providing numerous scholarships at various universities around the world, Strive, along with his wife Tsitsi, pay for orphan’s high school fees through their charity Capernaum Trust. The charity operates in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi, and Lesotho, reaching roughly 40,000 orphans.
7) Unofficially Exiled?
It is widely rumoured that Masiyiwa has not returned to his native Zimbabwe, where his telecoms company continues to be successful, for well over a decade. It has been suggested that due to his financial ties to the Daily News, a paper shut down by the administration in 2003. He has always maintained that his move to South Africa in 2000 is simply because the country provides a better platform for global expansion.
RELATED: Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Wireless Global has a stake in Liquid Telecom, who are currently investing millions to help Africans access superfast broadband:
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.