Zimbabwean-born billionaire Strive Masiyiwa is planning to expand his digital infrastructure and services businesses in Africa by raising $500 million. Bloomberg reports that his Cassava Technologies will tap investors such as venture capital firm C5 Capital Management for the financing plan. The company recently signed a deal to raise $50 million from C5 Capital.
Through his Cassava Technologies, the entrepreneur wants to expand his businesses from providing cybersecurity to payment services in Africa, where digital infrastructure is lacking. This is coming on the back of demand for higher-speed internet and data storage among millions of smartphone users in Africa.
Hardy Pemhiwa, chief executive officer at Cassava, told Bloomberg that his outfit wants to “really ensure that Africa has got a technology company of continental scale that can stand up among, you know, the giants. Something that Africa has never had.”
In November last year, Masiyiwa announced some assets of telecoms firm Econet would be folded into a separate entity to form Cassava, which already generates almost $1 billion of revenue a year.
“Cassava plans to use the funds to expand businesses such as the one that manages Econet’s 110,000 kilometres (68,350 miles) of fibre, cloud computing and nine data centres with another 10 coming over the next three years, said Pemhiwa. It also owns a renewable-energy unit,” Bloomberg reports.
In 2021, Masiyiwa became the first Black billionaire to break into The Sunday Times Rich List with his wealth estimated to be £1.087 billion ($1.5 billion). His entry into the list made him the richest Black in Britain.
Masiyiwa, 61, was born in Rhodesia now Zimbabwe in 1961. His family fled civil unrest in his country when he was only seven years old. The billionaire attended primary school in Zambia before moving to the UK when he was 12. While in the UK, he attended a private school in Scotland before earning an engineering degree from the University of Wales. He worked briefly in Cambridge in the computer industry before returning to Zimbabwe four years after it attained independence.
He started working in the telecom sector before establishing his own telecom firm, Econet, in 1993, after waging a five-year battle against Robert Mugabe’s administration to launch his business.
The Zimbabwean-born entrepreneur relocated to London in 2010 and has since been living in the British capital. In London, Masiyiwa lives in a £2.5million ($3 million) mansion on an exclusive private estate in Surrey, according to the Daily Mail.
He also owns properties worth millions in New York, including two adjacent apartments atop the 29-story Eldorado Towers – which were once home to stars like Michael J. Fox, Moby, and Alec Baldwin, the Daily Mail reported.
In 2020, Netflix appointed the London-based Zimbabwean to its board of directors, making him the first African and the third international media executive to join the streaming giant’s board in recent years.