ECONET founder and Zimbabwean philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa has been named by Bloomberg among the top 50 individuals that have changed the world for the better in 2020.
The annual Bloomberg 50 recognises people who are doing notable things and the 2020 list is made up of individuals who set the bar high in business, entertainment, finance, politics, and science and technology whose accomplishments merit acknowledgment.
Labelling Masiyiwa as Zimbabwe’s “messenger of hope”, Bloomberg noted how the businessman’s Higher Life Foundation paid $10 million in cash and other assistance to more than 1 700 health-care workers to urge them not to strike over erosion of wages.
“Masiyiwa, a billionaire who’s originally from outside of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, paid monthly stipends from ZW$5,000 to ZW$10,000 ($62 to $124) to health-care workers to stay on the job.
“When Covid-19 hit, he offered an additional ZW$500 a day for anyone hospitalized by the virus and $ZW50,000 for permanent disability or death. His program ran through July, and since its expiration some workers have gone back on strike,” Bloomberg said.
“Masiyiwa, whose telecommunications company operates in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, has had his run-ins with Zimbabwe’s government, which he sees as pursuing policies detrimental to his wireless business. More than 90% of the country’s commerce is conducted via mobile-money transactions because of cash shortages.
“The government accuses Econet, which dominates the industry, of fueling black-market currency trading and money laundering, accusations the company denies.
“Masiyiwa sees his donations as giving back to his home country, even though he lives in self-imposed exile, mostly in Johannesburg and London,” said Bloomberg.
Other global icons for 2020 who made the list include Aurora James who got retailers to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and Tim Bray who quit his executive job at Amazon.com to protest the firing of workers who’d raised concerns about Covid-19.
The list also has the president of Taiwan who kept the pandemic under control, and when Australian wildfires raged, comedian Celeste Barber who raised millions in relief.
Furthermore, the top 50 list includes Nigerian founders of the Feminist Coalition for their fundraising for the SARS protests later this year.
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford also makes the list. According to Bloomberg, “his Twitter campaign helped shame the U.K. government into providing free school meals to more than 1.5 million children from low-wage families”. – Zimbabwe Voice ■