Strive Masiyiwa (born 29 January 1961) is a Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international Telecommunications, Media and Technology group Econet Wireless and Econet Media (Kwesé) .
Masiyiwa is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. As a Panel Member, he facilitates coalition building to leverage and broker knowledge and convenes decision-makers to influence policy for lasting change in Africa.
He has won numerous accolades and gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy, and is considered one of Africa's most generous humanitarians. Masiyiwa has used his wealth to provide scholarships to over 100,000 young Africans over the past 20 years through his family foundation. He supports over 40,000 orphans with educational initiatives, as well as sponsoring students at universities in America, The United Kingdom, and China.Over the last few years, Masiyiwa has devoted his time to mentoring the next generation of African entrepreneurs on Facebook. Facebook has identified his platform as having the most engaged following of any business leader in the world.
Masiyiwa also funds initiatives in public health and agriculture across the African continent.
Strive Masiyiwa was born in Zimbabwe on 29 January 1961. He attended primary school in Zambia before completing his secondary education in Scotland. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wales.
Masiyiwa's international board appointments include The Rockefeller Foundation, US Council on Foreign Relations International Advisory Board, the Asia Society, the Africa Progress Panel (APP), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), The Micronutrient Initiative of Canada Grow Africa, The African Union's (AU) EBOLA Fund, Morehouse College Board, and The Pan African Strategic Institute.
Masiyiwa also sits on two United Nations Advisory Panel and is the only African member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience
Strive Masiyiwa returned to his native Zimbabwe in 1984 after a 17-year absence. After working briefly as a telecoms engineer for the state-owned telephone company, he quit his job and set up his own company with the equivalent of US$75. In five years, he had emerged as one of the country's leading industrialists, having built a large electrical engineering business The emergence of mobile cellular telephony led him to diversify into telecoms, but he soon ran into major problems when the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe refused to give him a license to operate his business, known as Econet Wireless.
Masiyiwa appealed to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, on the basis that the refusal constituted a violation of "freedom of expression". The Zimbabwean court, then one of the most respected on the continent, ruled in his favour after a five-year legal battle, which took him to the brink of bankruptcy. The ruling, which led to the removal of the state monopoly in telecommunications, is regarded as one of the key milestones in opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital. The company's first cellphone subscriber was connected to the new network in 1998.
Masiyiwa listed Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in July 1998 on the local stock exchange as a gesture of thanks to reward the thousands of ordinary people who supported him during his long legal battles against the Zimbabwean government. Today, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has gone on to become a major business that dominates the Zimbabwe economy. It is currently the second-largest company in Zimbabwe by market capitalisation.
In March 2000, Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe, never to return to the country, and moved first to South Africa, where he founded The Econet Wireless Group, a new and completely separate organisation to the listed Zimbabwean entity.
His main interest remained in telecoms. Some of the key businesses that he established with partners included Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Global, Mascom Wireless Botswana, Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), Econet Satellite Services, Lesotho Telecom, Econet Wireless Burundi, Rwanda Telecom, Econet Wireless South Africa, Solarway, and Transaction Processing Systems (TPS). He also has interests in mobile operations in New Zealand, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic. The company he created is known to have operations and investments, in more than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, US, Latin America, and New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, and China.
After more than ten years in South Africa, Masiyiwa moved to London; however, he still retains significant business interests in South Africa.
There are no reliable estimates of Masiyiwa's wealth because the vast majority of his business investments are held in private businesses. The only publicly known information is that of his listed business in Zimbabwe, the country he left 15 years ago. Based on this, Forbes Magazine estimates put Masiyiwa's personal wealth at US$1.7 billion.