Strive Masiyiwa Explains How He Started Helping Kids
13 October 2021
Strive Masiyiwa

By Business Reporter | Below is a transcript of Econet Wireless boss Strive Masiyiwa as he spoke on how he began the charity work of sending orphans to school.

To never apply for a job, but to do things quite differently when you did start to work and then dedicate so much of your time to helping others in a variety of ways that we’ve heard about today how did that thought process work?

Well, I was 26 and 58 now, so it’s kind of … I worked for a government telephone company and I just realised this didn’t work for me, it’s terrible inefficiency so I had an option so I leave the country and go abroad; or do I stay in try and do something in my country has just; I come from Zimbabwe and my country had just got its independence of a lot of excitement around and I thought well I why not be an entrepreneur so I went and started a small business. I really didn’t know much of what I was doing but I survived. And then a couple of years later probably about 4, 5 years, I ran a company with about 700 people, and I realised that something was going on cause a lot of young people that worked for me were dying of something that was then quite mysterious which was HIV AIDS. And it broke out into a major pandemic where we were burying sometimes 10-15 employees a week and … but the big challenge that my wife and I realised at the time was a lot of these young construction workers and engineers were leaving young families sometimes 5-years old some just starting school, so we came up with this idea that …. why don’t we just keep them in school? So we started going to the schools and they will pay for the school fees; we’ll pay for renting; so my wife took it on as a full-time job… she quit her job; and that kind of mushroomed and then you know, overtime and we came to a hundred of these kids that we’re looking after now, and I think we should start from stop doing it from your salary, the next thing then we got a thousand now, so we just kept supporting the kids and one time at the worst the height of the …support program we were supporting about 40,000 kids a year keeping them in school. We just sort of grew on from there, and as they get older… been some 20 odd years now 25 I think, as they got older they had other demands because we were like their parents; we kept them in school they come and they say no, I’ve got great grades and I think I should go to university.

We said sure, you know, so as we as a company got better, we never went looking for money outside our group, and as we gone better at it, we developed more programs, and became more engaged with education and we started sending some really smart kids around the world to top universities. So this year we have 350 in the United States, and, so wherever we are operate, we engage in education and that sort of became something that became a mission for us.