Twenty-five years ago, a dear friend in America heard about the travails I was going through in Zimbabwe in my efforts to get an operating license for my mobile business. He was a senior director of one of the largest companies in America. He wanted to see how he could help me.
"I have been speaking to some very influential friends of mine about you," he began to tell me when we met a few months later.
"I think you have the potential to become a remarkable businessman. So, here is my suggestion: Give up the pursuit of a mobile business and come into something like McDonald’s. I have spoken to people there, and they will give you a franchise for any African country of your choice. You are just what they need. They will train you and give you capital."
He then explained to me how this remarkable organization worked. He gave me a pile of books on them, which I read that weekend. I was in absolute awe of them, and I knew this opportunity could change my life forever. With passion and their organizational acumen and support, it would make me a very, very rich man.
A few days later, I called my friend and declined the opportunity. With barely enough money to feed my children, and not knowing what would happen next, I headed back to my beloved country to continue my fight.
Twenty-five years later, I ran into my old friend, now retired from his job. He looked me in the eye, with glistening tears: "I have followed your career with such pride. You achieved everything I thought you could. And you did it on your terms. Don't stop."
That was a hard, hard decision for me to take. Let me tell you this, "As long as you live in time and space," you will not be spared the need to make decisions like this one. You will not be spared some tough, tough situations. You will not be spared setbacks, and even bitter disappointments, at times.
I had a vision of what I wanted to do, and I was not going to be distracted from that vision, even by what seemed to be better opportunities.
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
I did not have a vision to make a lot of money; I had a vision to transform telecommunications in Africa. On my desk, I had a mission statement which said, "Our mission is to take telecommunications to all the peoples of Africa."
If my mission had been to make money, I would have accepted a franchise from one of the best companies in the world.
A vision is not a vision if you aren't prepared to pay a price to make it happen. Making money is not a vision, and neither can it be a mission.
Today I have another vision, and you are in it!
Stay with me, we have work to do together. It has only just begun.
To be continued…
By Strive Masiyiwa
Chairman and Founder, Econet