Dr. Strive Masiyiwa, philanthropist and founder of Econet Group is one man I cherish in the business realm. I admire his passion for spurring young upstarts to do business the right way and with a global view. Dr. Strive needs no introduction especially to his ever growing community Facebook disciples.
In an interview with THE FOCUS, Dr. Strive spoke about the responsibilities of business leaders. Following are 3 relevant lessons I believe the Nigerian business owner will do well to heed.
1) DON’T GET RUBBED OFF YOUR GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
As business owners with operations in Nigeria, we sometimes get sucked in by the Nigerian narrative. We see the map of Nigeria where we ought to see the map of the world. We are comfortable and at our very best when we play Nigerian. Being Nigerian becomes our balm of Gilead ( or is it Nigeria now). Instead of taking responsibility for our actions and inactions with a view to making adjustments, we plead Nigerian. We forget that we aren’t the only ones plagued with challenges and difficulties. This isn’t spite in anyway on our contextual and unique issues. However, it’s a call to embrace the myriad of barriers we may have and still go ahead to build great businesses that affect the very fabric of world existence.
Dr. Strive’s words about Econet drives this point home:
“We are very much an African company with a global perspective, much like Apple is an American company with a global outlook. We look at the opportunities globally, but we have very specific knowledge of the African continent and we take advantage of that.” Dr. Strive Masiyiwa.
Take advantage of your Nigerian roots and keep your global perspective whilst doing so. Selah.
2) WHERE IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
These days, business is the new fashion. Flash the word entrepreneur and your peers seek your coronation the very next minute. This piece isn’t meant to massage your ego. That you own a business isn’t a news item. Customers don’t become your cheerleaders unless you give them a solution or product to cheer about. Help them and then they can care about your CEO tag. Deal? A business with a guiding philosophy is a sure bet. It’s a cardinal sin to start a business because it’s the trendy thing to do. You can but you shouldn’t.
“As an entrepreneur, my philosophy has always been about reaching out to meet the needs of people. What do people need and how can we respond to those needs? From there, everything takes care of itself.”- Dr. Strive Masiyiwa.
When Dr. Strive entered the telecommunications industry in 1993, the vast majority of the African population (70percent) had never heard a telephone ring. In 2016, 70 percent of Africans now own a phone including my neighbor’ six year old. As a business owner, your philosophy can birth a revolution. Your philosophy stems from your acknowledgement of personal and public pain points. Actively seeking to make these pain areas a lot better for yourself and others is the very sperm that births change.
You don’t have to go to space in search of a philosophy, start from your space. I ask again; where is your philosophy?
3) INNOVATE OR DIE
“Consequently, you will see companies come from Africa that will be world champions thanks to a practical approach to innovation”- Dr. Strive Masiyiwa.
Did I hear an amen?
Having an overarching business paradigm empowers you to innovate. There are no make-ups, it’s just you, your business and your God. It can be hard but that’s cool. No one promised it would be easy. It’s your mission to turn that nagging problem into a solution. That’s an ORDER not a plea! If there is one thing Nigeria doesn’t lack it’s headache (problems). What is scarce is panadol( solutions), pun intended. Where many businesses get stuck is that they keep selling panadol to the market when the market doesn’t have headaches any longer. Your brief in this case is to find out a solution to their sore throats instead or whatever ailments they now have. This you should undertake in line with your philosophy.
“In Africa, a company such as ours often has to innovate out of necessity. As we do things from scratch, we have managed to leapfrog traditional technologies”-Dr. Strive Masiyiwa.
A bonus lesson for you:
4) PROVIDE DIVIDEND FOR THE YOUNG ONES
I don’t mean in terms of stocks or bonds, I mean in INSPIRATION. It’s safe to call me an Econet boy as my mum was once a beneficiary of the early Econet days. Whilst Dr. Strive doesn’t know me-yet , I know he made certain business decisions with me in mind. What about you? Do you have the young ones in mind? This dividend mindset helps you stay steadfastly on the path of integrity.
I close with the words of Dr. Strive, passionately believing that your business (es) will make a world of difference in Nigeria and outside its shores.
“I believe that, as a business leader, I must dedicate as much time as I can to showing young people the way because there aren’t a lot of successful African business leaders for them to look up to-yet.”- Dr. Strive Masiyiwa.
I’d be glad to read your thoughts and comments in the comment section below