Last week we discussed the life and faith of Strive Masiyiwa, the billionaire founder of Econet Wireless, Africa’s largest cellular service provider. Strive’s life is a truly impressive testament to the power of faith and love, and, as an outspoken Christian entrepreneur, there are some important things we can learn from the way he has chosen to bring his faith and business together.
PRAY, HARD AND OFTEN
In the mid-1990’s, Strive picked an accidental fight with the Zimbabwean government, headed by Robert Mugabe. Strive’s request was humble; he was looking for approval on a license to Zimbabwe’s cellular frequencies so he could start a cellular company, Econet Wireless. When his license was denied, he sued. The ensuing court battle lasted 5 years, and it was during the darkest moments of this battle that Strive was born again and turned to prayer for solace. He actively credits his success to his relationship with God, and colleagues confirm he rarely makes a decision without first praying for clarity.
One of the most impressive things about Masiyiwa’s career is that he’s almost spent more of it engaged in philanthropic pursuits than actually building his business. Within 10 years of winning his court case over the cellular rights, he was already well on his way to becoming one of the wealthiest men in Africa. He felt his work in spreading cellular technology across the continent was already a calling, but almost immediately he started branching out to offer assistance, money, and expertise to other issues troubling Africa. Over the last ten years, he’s become one of the most prolific philanthropists in the world: he’s founded the Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho; He’s a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa; He’s a member of the Giving Pledge with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett; and in 2013 he was appointed co-chair of Grow Africa, which has helped mobilize over US$15 billion in investments for African agriculture.
“The opportunity is in the problem. The moment I see a problem, I immediately begin to think about the opportunities that can be created by trying to solve it.”
– Strive Masiyiwa
IT’S NOT ALL BUSINESS
Masiyiwa has been clear from the beginning that his money, success, and career are only secondary to his role as a father, son, and husband. In one of his regular blog posts on the Econet website, he wrote these incredible words:
“I have been married for 27 years. I have never missed my wife’s birthday. My marriage is more important than my business or career.
- If my wife calls, I leave the meeting to attend to her.
- If my mother calls, I leave the meeting to attend to her.
- If my kids call, I leave the meeting to attend to them.
- If my pastor calls, I leave the meeting to attend to him.
I’m first and foremost a child of God, then a son to my mother, a husband to my wife and a dad to my children, a father to the fatherless, and a mentor to the next generation. Whatever title you give me will never be above those.”
Strive Masiyiwa has shown that faith and business can be blended together in a way that brings joy, success, and peace to the world. In what ways are you bringing your faith and business together? In what ways are you struggling?