Masiyiwa says he is oftentimes shocked when even the media who should know better, feed into the incorrect public narrative that he owns Econet when in actual fact he does not even have 50% shareholding
Telecomm mogul Strive Masiyiwa says contrary to public sentiment, he does not actually own Econet, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile telephony operator.The billionaire Econet Wireless founder and Executive Chairperson says he is just one of the tens of thousands of investors in Econet, a publicly listed tech giant.
”I have never personally held more than 50%, since Econet was listed. So I actually don’t own the company. I’m simply the largest single shareholder,” writes Masiyiwa on his widely followed Facebook page.Masiyiwa adds that even though Econet employs over 5,000 people, he has never met 98% of them, including some very senior managers at the company.
Masiyiwa says he is oftentimes shocked when even the media who should know better, feed into the incorrect public narrative that he owns Econet when in actual fact he does not even have 50% shareholding.“(But) you will still find even media people saying of a public listed entity ‘the Strive Masiyiwa-owned business’. And some will even ask me to intervene on things I have no idea about, and should not be expected to know.
“They never shook away the BigMan idea developed when they were young,” he says, adding that this was not unique to Zimbabwe, but common across Africa.“Many of us simply struggle to see institutions and corporate structures, and only see a person.When I was a child there were two types of African business people: a “BigMan” was someone who had started with a small shop in the village, and then expanded it into a supermarket (usually in the nearest big town).
As I got older the BigMan had ventured into operating buses and Keke (kombi, matatu).“Strive, if you want to make money one day, you must go into the WhiteMan’s business”, my uncle counseled me at the age of 14. “The WhiteMan makes money from mining and farming, using our natural resources.
”“When I started my career, new areas of entrepreneurship had opened up. We could now get government tenders as long as our own kinsmen were in control. It was a simple compact: Vote our own guys in and they will help us get to the feeding trough!“Moving Africa forward requires us to dramatically change our mindset both as entrepreneurs, and also in popular culture that shapes how our people perceive entrepreneurs. Our teachers must be challenged to show our kids what is true entrepreneurship. Our policymakers must be focused on developing policies that encourage entrepreneurship in every sphere of our economy.
“In entrepreneurship, there is no such thing as “value addition”. That is an outdated concept. We need to replace that expression with “innovation and entrepreneurship”.Masiyiwa is a Forbes global influencer and uses his huge Facebook followership of over 3.9 million fans to project his pan African business ideas. He also regularly mentors young enterpreneurs and is Zimbabwe’s first billionaire in US dollar terms