Nigerian Ezinne Uko and Kenyan Peter Wachira — winners of the $200 000 Strive Masiyiwa-sponsored Kwese Inc #GoGettaz entrepreneurship competition — are in Harare, along with 10 of the competition’s finalists, on a two-week internship programme.
The visit is the culmination of the young African entrepreneurs’ competition, one of the biggest to be staged on the continent, which was organized and funded by Econet’s Group Chairman and founder, Mr Strive Masiyiwa, via his Facebook blog, which boasts 3 million followers.
The winners’ selection took place in Nairobi earlier in the year, at a grand finale in the Kenyan capital, where the winning entrants made it out of a pool of close to 5 000 entries.
Yesterday the group, consisting of budding startup owners from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe, met Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ)’s top executives, led by CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni, for a firsthand opportunity to listen, learn and ask important questions on how to build and sustain a successful business.
“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is part of the Econet global group founded by Mr Masiyiwa, and our biggest asset is our people and ideas” Mr Mboweni said as he went through the company’s vision, mission, values and its successful TMT (telecom, media and technology) business operating model.
He said Econet’s culture of innovation had, over the years, enabled it to identify opportunities in the midst of challenges and constraints.
Mr Mboweni urged the young entrepreneurs to emulate the GoGettaz competition sponsor Mr Masiyiwa, who started out with nothing but a clear vision and strong belief.
“Mr Masiyiwa started out with nothing except a clear and compelling vision of what he wanted to achieve.
“Thereafter, his job was to build a good team and provide strong leadership by consistently communicating and selling the vision to the team, so they could work the vision into reality,” Mr Mboweni said.
Econet Wireless, the largest TMT company in Zimbabwe, this year celebrates its 20th anniversary since it started operations in 1998.
Mr Mboweni told the young entrepreneurs that what set Econet apart was a culture of performance and disciplined execution.
“Once the vision is clear, we take responsibility of the execution and hold each other accountable to the agreed goals and outcomes,” he said.
Speaking at the same meeting, EWZ Chief Operating Officer Mr Fayaz King took the young entrepreneurs through the operational details of how the business works, concluding by saying a business was always as good as its people.
“The same applies to you, as you start out and build your businesses: Be sure to hire the right people who believe in your vision, and who have a good attitude because, at the end of the day, what stands between and your success is you and your attitude,” said Mr King.
He reminded the group of one of Mr Masiyiwa’s mantras; that in business you never pursue the money “but rather you look for problems, or the opportunities to fix people’s problems, and the money will follow”.
“It has been about understanding and anticipating the needs of the customers and working to provide convenient solutions to those problems, and thereby simplify the customer’s life”, he said.
The GoGettaz, whose name is derived from ‘Go Getters’ – a reference to the courage and audacity of the entrepreneurial spirit – clearly cherished the time they spend with the EWZ leadership ahead of their two-week internship programme.
Mr Masiyiwa, who organised the programme, has over the years used his Facebook blog and popular town hall meetings across African capitals, to share knowledge and use his vast business experience to mentor young African entrepreneurs on the continent.
Listed by Forbes Magazine as one of Africa’s billionaires, and Zimbabwe’s first, Mr Masiyiwa is the founder of the Econet Group, which has interests in telecoms, broadband, media, fintech and related fields across the continent and beyond.