Hilton Humanitarian Prize Juror; Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Wireless
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Wireless, a global telecommunications company whose activities include mobile cellular telephony, fixed networks, enterprise networks, fibre optic cables and satellite services. The Group’s companies also provide payment solutions to banks across Africa. Masiyiwa has been in business since 1986. He first came to international prominence when he fought a landmark constitutional legal battle for five years in Zimbabwe. The ruling, which led to the removal of the state monopoly in telecommunications, is generally regarded as one of the key milestones in opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital. His flagship business, South African-based Econet Wireless (www.econetwireless.com), is now a global telecommunications group with operations, investments and offices in more than 15 countries in Africa, Europe, USA, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
Masiyiwa has served on numerous boards and trusts both in Zimbabwe and internationally. In 1995 he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund. He is also a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chaired by Kofi Annan.
Masiyiwa and his wife are active humanitarians, focusing on promoting awareness of the impact of AIDS in Africa, and their foundation currently provides support for more than 40,000 orphans.
As one of the most respected African business leaders today, Masiyiwa speaks regularly at major international business gatherings and has been featured in leading international publications and television programs, among them the Economist, Newsweek, Barron’s, Financial Times and CNN. In 1990 Masiyiwa was the youngest ever recipient of Zimbabwe’s Businessman of the Year award; in 1998 he was named his country’s Manager of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year; and in 2002 he was named to Time magazine’s Global Business Influentials List.
Masiyiwa was born in what was Southern Rhodesia in 1961. He went to high school in Scotland, earned a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Cum Laude) at the University of Wales, and returned to newly independent Zimbabwe in 1984 where he took a job with the state-owned telephone company. Foreseeing the rise of cell phones, Masiyiwa founded Econet Wireless in 1994 which today serves customers throughout the world. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife, Tsitsi, and six children.