By Nomusa Garikai- “Masiyiwa challenges entrepreneurs to solve problems in their communities” screamed the headline. When you are rich, Strive Masiyiwa, is filthy rich and so when he speaks even the rich and powerful sit-up and listen. I did, but then only to be disappointed.
“At the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020, I was told that one of the biggest problems was testing for the virus,” revealed Masiyiwa, in the article.
“African countries had no access to test kits and masks (used in hospitals). We have probably already forgotten how hard it was to get them. But it was not that long ago that African governments were paying crazy prices for these things. Corruption erupted across the continent, as unscrupulous thieves moved in to take advantage. Some ministers and civil servants even joined in!
“I was asked by President Cyril Ramaphosa to solve the problem.”
Masiyiwa went on to describe how he and three other Africans went to build Africa Medical Supplies Platform, “within 6 weeks”; an eCommerce platform on which many African countries (was later expanded to include some countries in the Caribbean) pooled their orders to take advantage of bulk order and African Export Import Bank (AfriEximbank) facilitated the payments.
Well done Strive! Well done everybody!
“Not every problem out there is screaming for a political solution. Leaders need to trust those with the right skills to step forward and help them,” concluded Masiyiwa.
“Now here is something that might surprise you: Today, the AMSP is the largest eCommerce platform in Africa by volume of products sold and by value.
“This should inspire you to go out and solve problems in your community, particularly those you complain about.”
Frankly, I for one, and the overwhelming majority of ordinary Africans, the impoverished and powerless povo; are not not inspired, not in the least!
Mr Masiyiwa it is hard enough to be a successful entrepreneur even in a country like the UK, Japan South Korea as many a citizen from the said nation will readily testify because everyone else wants the same thing – success.
In the above-named countries the entrepreneur gets a leg-up; it is relative easier raise the working capital from the Bank or own resources, the country’s stable and booming economy creates many opportunities for all, etc.
In Zimbabwe and many other African countries, the entrepreneur does not get any help from anyone or anywhere. Decades of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption have left many countries with a few ruling elite and their cronies who are filthy rich. Their appetite for looting and good life is insatiable and like all looters their criminal waste of human and material resources knows no bounds.
Africa has become synonymous with such dichotomous contradiction as a nation being the breadbasket a whole region during colonial days finding itself total dependent of important food aid or face starvation after independence.
The overwhelming majority of ordinary African are wallowing in abject poverty; they do not dream of becoming an entrepreneur because they have no money, no education. They are hoping to get a job, God knows there are no employment opportunities given the economic meltdown due to decades of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and rank lawlessness earning the country the pariah state label and forcing would-be investors to shy.
An entrepreneur in UK is like a salmon fish in a salmon fish-farm; there is competition for food with the fish of all sizes but there is enough for all.
In Africa most people are poor, are the kapenta fish in a pool that is shrinking fast by the day. They share the pool with catfish and crocodile and these have been joined by the herons, marabou stock, etc.; all have kapenta fish on their menu!
The way out of the trap of poverty and hopelessness for millions of Africans is for them to find a job; they are not dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur. Anyone serious about ending poverty in Africa must therefore address the root cause of poverty – the curse of rigged elections that have allowed corrupt and incompetent leaders to remain in office.
“If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!
They would ask me to advise them,
Like a Solomon the Wise.
‘If you please, Reb Tevye…’
‘Pardon me, Reb Tevye…’
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes!
And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong.
When you’re rich, they think you really know!”
Chaim Topol: Fiddler on roof
Well, Topol was right, the rich can be arrogant and patronising! Mr Strive Masiyiwa you can biddy biddy bum with Africa’s Godfathers of corruption and tyrannical oppression all day every day.
We must address the problem of rigged elections and bad governance because it is the root cause of why millions are wallowing in abject poverty and their ticket out of poverty. Mnangagwa and his cronies’ insatiable greed for power and wealth are the reason millions are poor and their future is grime and will remain so until we end dictatorship.
At the heart of Zimbabwe’s economic and political nightmare is rigged elections and bad governance to suggest that the country can somehow get out of this mess and even thrive with a strong entrepreneurial spirit is a damn lie!