Masiyiwas Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is By Launching a $100m Rural Entrepreneurship Fund


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Econet founder and executive chairman, Mr Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi, have launched a $100m Challenge Fund to support rural entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs focusing on rural areas in Zimbabwe as part of their extensive philanthropic work in Zimbabwe and across Africa.

The fund is being financed from their personal resources and will be disbursed as loans through Steward Bank, a member of the Econet group.

Mr Masiyiwa confirmed the developments in a statement issued yesterday.

“My wife and I have decided to set up a special fund of $100m over five years for ReImagine Rural in Zimbabwe. We have also challenged our friends in the philanthropy community to join us to expand it across Africa.

“The fund which is our own personal money will be disbursed as loans through Steward Bank (a member of the Econet group). The money will support projects from rural entrepreneurs or those entrepreneurs willing to focus on rural areas,” he said.

He said 1,25 percent of the fund will be set aside for Matabeleland, women are going to get minimum 50 percent while traditional businesses like stores and grinding mills will be excluded from benefiting from the fund.

The other conditions are that the minimum loan will be $1 000 while the maximum is $10 000, there is no collateral, the maximum interest is five percent, repayments will go into a revolving fund, all entrepreneurs must undergo training before accessing the loans and that there is no political lobbying for support.

Mr Masiyiwa said Steward Bank will soon set up a special team for the Masiyiwa Rural Challenge Fund.

“I want to use this initiative to challenge global donors to support mass entrepreneurship in Africa by putting my own money into what I believe. My wife is currently on a major drive to get this concept adopted by other philanthropists, so we can push into other African countries.

“This initiative does not reduce our commitment to other areas of our philanthropy efforts including education and the $60m sanitation and water initiative in Harare. We thank the Lord who empowers us,” he said.

Last month Mr Masiyiwa was appointed to the board of trustees of the National Geographic Society.

The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC.

Mr Masiyiwa’s Econet Group is a telecommunications, media and technology company with operations and investments in 29 countries.

Mr Masiyiwa currently serves on the board of Unilever, the transnational consumer goods company as well as the global advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University.

Details of how the fund will work were posted on his Facebook page and we know the following:

  • 25% must be set aside for an area of Zimbabwe called Matabeleland;
  •  Women must get minimum 50%;
  • Young people must be the focus;
  • Traditional businesses like stores and grinding mills will be excluded. We want to see a new generation of businesses, to fulfil my dream of #ReImagineRural.
  • Min: $1000, Max $10,000.
  • No collateral;
  • Maximum interest 5%;
  • Repayments will go into revolving fund;
  • All entrepreneurs must undergo training before loans;
  • No political lobbying for support

I’d want to conclude by Mr Nyatsine’s reiteration the Masiyiwas put money to their dream to transform lives in a deep and meaningful.