Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chair of the Econet Group, just made the 2018 FORBES list of African billionaires as Zimbabwe’s first billionaire.
FORBES estimates Masiyiwa’s net worth at $1.7 billion, ranking him 14th among Africa’s 23 billionaires.
Econet Group owns Econet Global, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Wireless International, Econet Media, and Econet Entreprises and Liquid Telecom Group.
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Masiyiwa’s journey to building these businesses has not been without toils. FORBES notes that he “overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998”.
In essence, he was engaged in a 5-year court war with his former employer, the country’s only telecom business at the time, before being awarded a mobile telecoms license to operate the company that would later expand into a global empire.
On Masiyiwa’s wealth and assets, FORBES notes:
- He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group.
- Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa.
- His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa.
Masiyiwa is also a prolific philanthropist.
He founded the Higherlife Foundation together with his wife, Tsitsi. The foundation pays the school fees of some 40,000 orphaned or low-income students in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.
The telecoms magnate is also at the helm of the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship, which enables African students to attend the Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
Masiyiwa was named one of Time Magazine Most Influential Person in 2002. In 2014, he was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. He is a friend to many world leaders, often spearheading conferences with the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Masiyiwa one of Africa’s most influential figures and a champion for technology and young people.