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Strive Masiyiwa is one of Africa’s most successful businessmen. The media and technology magnate was born in Zimbabwe and his philanthropic work is an example other African leaders are following with the objective of improving living conditions and education in their home countries.
When the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa a few years ago claiming hundreds of lives and devastating entire countries, the continent nearly came to a halt. Monetary assistance and manpower were urgently needed. Help came slow, even as the disease spread like bushfire. At the height of desperation, one man managed to successfully launch a rallying call by bringing major business players from across the continent under the same roof. The idea was to show leadership in the wake of the catastrophe with every company present pledging $1 million. Within half an hour, more than $30 million had been raised. This was followed by the launch of Africa Against Ebola campaign which enlisted the support of celebrities, including renowned athletes, politicians, singers, dancers, and Africans, in general, to raise funds for such dire medical situation. This became the biggest crowdfunding campaign to have ever been carried out in Africa.
Strive Masiyiwa was the man behind this cause. The telecommunication mogul from Zimbabwe has led a campaign to support the less fortunate across Africa. The founder and chief executive of Zimbabwe’s most successful telco Econet—which boasts 25 million customers across seven countries and generates $3 billion in annual revenue—Masiyiwa is Zimbabwe’s wealthiest man.
He has always followed the mantra of giving people a chance, in particular through education. Himself a victim of the civil war that broke in the then Rhodesia, which almost saw him take arms, the opportunity to go to school and fight with the power of words inspired him to dedicate his philanthropic efforts to education. His worry has always been that orphaned, and less privileged children who have no access to education would become child-soldiers.
Together with his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa, he has built a successful educational project dubbed Capernaum Trust, which pays the school fees of more than 40,000 underprivileged and orphaned children in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. To take a holistic approach, the program educates the children from primary school to higher institutions of learning covering their meals, education, and medical needs. He has also built libraries and resource centers to make it easier for students to access educational materials.
Beneficiaries of the program are christened History Makers, and 3,000 of them have already enrolled in various universities in South Africa, Australia, and the United States. Masiyiwa and his wife primarily use personal capital to run the trust.
Masiyiwa—an avid crusader of the Africa Rising narrative—also sits on various boards that are pushing the envelope by creating a better Africa for all. He is a key advisor to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, AGRA, an organization that works with smallholder farmers to end hunger in the continent.
His philanthropic efforts haven’t escaped the world’s attention. In 2012, America’s Morehouse College feted him with an honorary degree in recognition of his humanitarian work across the continent, which the institution said was having a huge impact on the livelihoods of the African people.
Masiyiwa’s hopes for an Africa where everyone gets a chance to pursue what they like, and with his Trust, his impact is already being felt at home and beyond. ■