A letter That Changed My Life!

    By Strive Masiyiwa

    If I get you to accept this, there is nothing you cannot do!

    About 30 years ago, I wrote a letter that changed my life as an entrepreneur. I had come across an article in a newspaper that said the private sector arm of the World Bank, IFC, was setting up a special fund to help what they called at the time “Small and Medium Size Businesses”—SMEs [we don’t really use that term much anymore; today we say “Entrepreneurs].

    It was there in the newspaper that we all read. But I read to DO, so I always have a pen and paper—READY TO FOLLOW UP!

    There was no email, no Internet. I decided to write a letter and waited some months for the reply. A black guy from Guyana eventually wrote back, and said he was one of the people working on this IFC [International Finance Corporation] fund. To cut a long story short: he traveled to Harare to undertake a due diligence of my little business. Together we worked on my Business Plan. He actually had the first laptop that I had ever seen! I had only a desktop!

    It must have taken six months, and at least five visits by Dr Lawrence Clarke, to help me develop an investable business plan. During those six months, I learnt more about financing structures and DEBT vs EQUITY in a business than I had known in five years.

    At the time, it was only $250,000. But the principles I learnt would apply to any amount you need.

    In the years to come, as I grew my business bigger, or went into businesses that required ever more money, I had first been put on the path of how to do it… by this highly credible professional.

    “With all your getting, first get a proper understanding of how it really works” [my paraphrase of a great Proverb].

    For me, the Bible verse: “My people perish [or fail] for lack of knowledge” has always held a particular meaning.

    I’m always asking myself: “Could it be that I simply don’t know enough about how this really works, and that lack of knowledge is working against me?”

    If the answer is yes, then I take action, without delay. I have an excellent team but I also do my own research, studying only credible analysis and global best practices. I talk to trusted experts and friends, including those who I know will tell me what I don’t want to hear, if need be.

    You must learn to discern who you can trust. What are their own interests, if any? Everyone has interests, that is fine, but make sure their interests align with your own values and visions. Not just your business survival depends on this!

    Are you asking yourself the right questions?

    Are you doing your homework based on trusted, credible and reliable sources?

    Are you making the observations that really matter?


    There will be many opportunities for you, even today, such as the one I had that day when I saw that article. Every day I write stuff for you that is just as important as that article, but you and you alone, are the one to ACT!

    Yes, today we are still very busy tackling a historic pandemic which I know has badly impacted many of you on this platform, but in your life as an entrepreneur there will always be storms of one kind or another. If you’re not already, it’s time for you to soar my eaglets!

    Image credit: Eduardo Teixera de Sousa @edtsousa – High tide, Winter storm in Porto, Portugal See Less

    Dream Hub Africa
    Dream Hub Africa
    Curating dreams within the African context and beyond one person at a time. Engineering Fundamentals and information for borderless and global leverage through transforming and impactful conversations.

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