Rich people sometimes get a bad rep for living flashy, luxury lifestyles while millions of people are starving. However, that’s simply not the case with all wealthy people. Billionaire and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa has helped hundreds of thousands of people and still managed to become the richest black man in Southern Africa.
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The London-based Zimbabwean businessman recently dethroned Patrice Motsepe as the richest black person in Southern Africa - a title Motsepe had held since 2008.
Masiyiwa‘s nett worth increased by $1.7 billion (about R26.4 billion) according to Business Insider. The 61-year-old is now estimated to be worth $3.2 billion (R49.8 billion), which is more than Patrice Motsepe‘s $2.9 billion (R43.5 billion).
Briefly News took a closer look at Masiyiwa‘s life, career and heart of gold.
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Strive Masiyiwa knows the hard and soft life
Strive Masiyiwa is inspiring for many reasons and he had to overcome several struggles to succeed, like fighting his own government in court to be awarded a licence to operate. The philantropist was born in Zimbabwe on 29 January, 1961. He is no stranger to living in poverty and spent his first few years of life in a township in Harare.
When he was seven, Masiyiwa moved with his family to Zambia. His mom was an entrepreneur and by the time he was 12, they could afford to give Masiyiwa a European education and he completed secondary school in Scotland.
In 1978, Masiyiwa returned to Zimbabwe. He initially wanted to join Robert Mugabe’s anti-government guerrilla forces, according to The Gaurdian. Masiyiwa’s life took a different turn and he ended up going back to Britain to further his education. In 1983, Masiyiwa earned a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Wales. After a short stint in the computer industry in Cambridge, England, Masiyiwa returned to Zimbabwe in 1984.
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A young Masiyiwa gets resistance from the very government he wanted to fight for
Every hero has to overcome a struggle to reach their destiny. Ironically, after Masiyiwa returned to Zimbabwe to start a business and help recover the country’s economy, he was met with resistance from Mugabe’s government.
With just $75 (R1 160), Masiyiwa started his own engineering company and quickly built it into an empire. He then founded the telecommunications company Econet Wireless, but ran into trouble when the government refused to issue a licence to him to operate, Good Governance Africa reported. Masiyiwa ended up taking the government to court and winning after a lenghty five-year trial that nearly bankrupted him.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is the second-largest company in the country today and reportedly dominates the economy. However, Masiyiwa permenantly left the country in the year 2000 to escape persecution by local authorities.
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He fled to South Africa and established The Econet Wireless Group - a new and seperate entity from the Zimbabwean company. The company has investments and operations in over 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, US, United Arab Emirates and China.
He also owns Africa's largest satellite and fibre optic business, Liquid Telecom Group, which covers more than 14 countries.
Masiyiwa stayed in Mzansi for a decade before moving to London, England. He has been living in the UK ever since and was now even dubbed ‘Britain’s first black billionaire’, according to inews.co.uk.
Strive Masiyiwa is a dollar billionaire with a heart of gold
The only thing bigger than Strive Masiyiwa’s bank account is his heart. Masiyiwa and his family have been actively part in various charity works. Briefly News previously reported that Masiyiwa is a member of the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates initiative called the Giving Pledge.
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He has also actively participated in supporting health initiatives like the fight against HIV/AIDS, EBOLA, cervical cancer, and malnutrition.
Masiyiwa and his wife were given The Points of Light award for their work with providing underprivileged children an education. Masiyiwa helped over 250 000 African children with scholarships over two decades. Forbes reported his foundation pays over 20 000 pupils’ school fees each year.
Former Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, applauded Masiyiwa and his wife’s philanthropic works in a letter.
“By founding the ‘Higherlife Foundation’, you have demonstrated your shared commitment to improving the learning opportunities of children across Africa. You should be enormously proud of your tireless work supporting hundreds of thousands of children to improve their life chances by accessing quality education and training.”
In God he trusts: Strive Masiyiwa knows where his strength comes from
The billionaire has been very vocal about his strong religious beliefs. During his most difficult times, Masiyiwa found refuge in the church… with a little nudge from his wife.
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He understood how much faith can change a situation when he was battling the court case to have his business licenced. It took a lot of effort for his wife to convince him to accompany her to church. Narrating his experience, he stated:
“It seemed as though everyone in the room except me was so happy! The young American pastor was preaching about Jesus Christ, whom I thought I had known all my life. Now I realised that I did not know Him; I only knew of Him.“
After this, he went back to the legal battle, and everything changed when he was granted the licence after five years of struggling. This experience was life-changing to him, and he has never looked back.
Strive Masiyiwa is not the richest man in Southern Africa or the richest black man in Africa
Strive Masiyiwa might have taken over the title of ’richest black man in Southern Africa’ but he isn’t the richest man in the region. Johann Rupert is currently the richest person in Southern Africa with a nett worth of $8.1 billion, which is around R126 billion.
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The titles of ‘richest black man‘ and ‘richest person on the African continent‘ go to Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote. The businessman has held the position for several years running and is currently worth a staggering $15 billion (R234bn).
More people should ’strive’ to be like Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is living proof that not all rich people are snobs. Even as his nett worth conitnues to grow, Masiyiwa continues to open his heart and wallet to those in need. Just imagine how wonderful the world would have been if more people followed in his footsteps.
The title of the richest black man in Southern Africa could not have gone to a more deserving recipient.
Source: Briefly News