BY STAFF REPORTER
Zimbabwean telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa has called on young African business owners –whom he calls “digital, liberated young entrepreneurs” – to lead a wealth-creation and entrepreneurial revolution on the continent.
Masiyiwa said young people must learn from the exploits of the world’s new breed of billionaires, who made their money while they were still young.
“I remember a time when the richest man in the world was always an old man; a very old man,” he wrote on his Facebook platform.
“Before Bill Gates, the richest men in the world were like Howard Hughes (a reclusive old man who made things like aeroplanes and ran oil fields).
“There were powerful men like Tiny Rowland, who made politicians quake in their boots and paid bribes to get what they wanted.”
Masiyiwa said no one expected young people to get to the top, because it was understood that getting to the top was a lifetime toil, which required political power, and access to scarce resources.
“Then came Bill Gates, Steve Job, Larry Ellison,” the Econet Wireless founder said.
“These were basically ‘kids’ at the time, working in garages with digital technologies. They were innovative inventors.
“These guys toppled the old men from the top; they replaced privilege and power as the only way to get to the top.”
Masiyiwa added: “The kids that came after them were even younger, like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.
“These guys were multi-billionaires before they were even 25 years old.
“For a while it was a uniquely American phenomenon, but China also unleashed its young people. And they too have gone on to build extraordinary companies.
“Strangely, Europe has never been able to do it, and you don’t find young companies at the top throughout Europe, and old men (and women sometimes) still dominate with wealth built generationally.”
The business tycoon said going digital could be the magic bullet for African youths aspiring to be billionaires.
“Unless young people go digital (and it is applicable in every field), they will not break the grip of the older generation, which our future needs them to do,” Masiyiwa wrote.
“They have to be natives of the concept that innovation makes money. It’s the only way to play this game.”