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Zimbabwe’s richest man honoured in America

Strive Masiyiwa - Partnerships for Development...

Strive Masiyiwa – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

Though there is debate about Zimbabwe’s rich list, what is out in the open is that Strive Masiyiwa blows all of the business people out of the dust. Without any doubt he is the richest man in Zimbabwe and is the only one who makes Africa’s top fourty richest list. To further cement his status, Morehouse College, an all-male institution and one of America’s oldest historically black colleges, awarded Zimbabwean telecom tycoon Strive Masiyiwa an honorary doctorate in recognition for his philanthropic and humanitarian work across the African continent.

Masiyiwa, 51, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the college’s 128th commencement ceremony, which was held on May 20 at the college’s Century Campus in Atlanta, Georgia.  Masiyiwa was awarded an honorary degree alongside popular syndicated radio host Tom Joyner and American billionaire S. Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of fast food chicken restaurant chain Chick-fil-A.

Reading Masiyiwa’s citation during the conferment of the honorary degree, President of Morehouse College Dr. Robert Michael Franklin said of the Zimbabwean businessman:

“As an entrepreneur you have excelled in establishing a stellar example of principled leadership. As a visionary you have gained international prominence for opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital. You fought against the government to dismantle a monopoly paving the way for free enterprise, and you have shared your resources for philanthropic purposes. Not only do you fund one of Africa’s largest orphanages, but also you’ve played an integral in alleviating poverty that worsened during economic reform in your native country Zimbabwe.”

Two decades ago, Masiyiwa famously fought the Zimbabwean government in a five-year legal battle challenging the latter’s monopoly on wireless communications in the Southern African country. Masiyiwa subsequently became the first person in the world to be granted a mobile telecoms license by a court of law rather than the government, and he went on to build Econet Wireless, a leading Pan-African mobile telecoms company with operations across Africa, U.K and New Zealand. Through his independent holding company, T.S. Masiyiwa Holdings, Masiyiwa also owns significant interests in financial services, tourism, alternative energy and infrastructure across Africa.

His controlling stake in Econet Wireless has made him Zimbabwe’s richest man, worth at least $280 million. He ranked No. 34 on Forbes’ list of Africa’s 40 Richest, published in November 2011.  Masiyiwa is known to devote a percentage of his annual income towards philanthropy. He and his wife, Tsitsi Masiyiwa, founded and currently fund the Capernaum Trust, a Zimbabwe-registered Christian charity that sponsors scholarships and medical assistance for over 28,000 orphaned Zimbabwean children. Masiyiwa also recently pledged to sponsor 10 South African students to study at Morehouse College.

A day before the Morehouse award, Masiyiwa joined American President Barack Obama and other G-8 leaders at a meeting at Camp David to discuss the issue of food security in the African continent. Masiyiwa has been one of the most vocal advocates championing the interests of small farmers in Africa, and is currently the acting chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a non-governmental organization that works closely with small farmers towards achieving a food secure Africa.

In his commencement address to the graduating students at Morehouse College, (which you’ll find in the compelling video above), Masiyiwa gave them a key to success in business and life:

“If you really want to be a success, identify a human need and reach out to meet it…perhaps you’ll make money along the way, but I know something: If you reach out to meet the needs, you will wear the crown.”



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