Strive Masiyiwa, Britain's First Black Billionaire, Is Working To Get COVID-19 Vaccines To Africa
Photo Credit: RODGER BOSCH/AFP

Strive Masiyiwa, Britain's First Black Billionaire, Is Working To Get COVID-19 Vaccines To Africa

Zimbabwean native and London-based businessman Strive Masiyiwa has officially been named Britain’s first Black billionaire to make the rich list. However, he has some more pressing work he’s focusing on back in his home country.

According to the Sunday Times, Masiyiwa is making efforts to resolve the world’s current health crisis by finding enough COVID-19 vaccines to serve all of Africa’s 1.3 billion-strong population.

So far, Masiyiwa — the African Union’s special envoy on the pandemic –has managed to sign a deal with Johnson & Johnson for 400 million vaccine doses. As one of Africa’s most generous humanitarians, the billionaire businessman is doing all he can to help his people.

Prior to growing his wealth in London, Masiyiwa was living in Rhodesia — now modern day Zimbabwe — with his parents before fleeing the country at age seven to escape the nation’s political unrest after Ian Smith’s government declared independence from Britain, Daily Mail reports.

Following this, he and his family moved to Zambia, where Masiyiwa attended primary school up until age 12 when he moved to the United Kingdom. Years later after attending a private secondary school in Scotland, he went on to earn an engineering degree from the University of Wales.

His degree afforded him the opportunity to work in Cambridge, England in the computer industry before later returning to Africa in 1984. Upon his return, Masiyiwa found himself working in telecoms, which would soon become the source of his billion-dollar fortune.

He set up his company Econet back in 1993 and then went on to launch a mobile phone network, despite protests from former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

After refusing to give Masiyiwa a license to operate his business, the billionaire took the controversial leader to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe. It ended up being a five-year legal battle — which almost made him go bankrupt — that ultimately gave him the green light to set up his network.

According to Daily Mail, Masiyiwa is now the proud owner of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the second-largest by market capitalization, which now operates in Africa, Europe, South America and the East Asia Pacific Rim.

After living in South Africa for several years, Masiyiwa then decided to move to London back in 2010 and has been living there ever since, all while maintaining his business endeavor in his former country.

As a prolific African philanthropist, Masiyiwa is known for his charitable efforts and giving spirit that’s been focused on helping out young people.

Daily Mail shares that Masiyiwa co-founded the Higherlife Foundation with his wife Tsitsi, which helps cover schooling fees for roughly 40,000 displaced and/or less-fortunate students in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho. He’s even provided scholarships to more than 250,000 young Africans for over 20 years through his foundation, including one that allows African students to attend Morehouse College.

In 2012, Masiyiwa, along with four other business leaders, was invited by President Barack Obama to attend the 38th G8 summit at Camp David to strategize ways to increase food production and end poverty in some parts of Africa.

Additionally, the telecom mogul was also appointed to Netflix’s board of directors last year to help the streaming giant’s expansion efforts in Africa.

Moreover, Masiyiwa’s wealth and power has been widely recognized by Fortune Magazine — who named him one of the 50 most influential business leaders in the world back in 2014 — as well as Forbes, who declared him a billionaire in 2018 with a net worth of $2.3 billion.

As of today, Masiyiwa’s fortune is valued at approximately $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.