The birth of Mascom was not an easy one as you can see from Strive Masiyiwa's own words. The two weeks prior to the submission of the tender bid for Botswana, are probably the hardest I have ever worked in my life, even to this day!
We produced a 900 page bid document, using a team of 35 people. Sometimes we went for two or three days without much sleep.
There were 21 bidders who had collected documents. They were mostly big multinational companies from all over the world, including operators like Vodacom, MTN, Bharti, France Telecom.
The Botswana government had hired international consultants from Sweden to run the process for them.
Although we were facing such fierce competition, and we were unknown, I had deep faith, that we would win. I did not care who we were up against, we had to beat them!
After submitting the documents, we were advised after a few weeks, that 5 bidders had made the final short list:
- France Telecom,
- Bharti Airtel,
- Mascom Wireless.
We received a letter inviting us to Botswana to make oral presentations of our proposals.
Our European technical partners, did not at first believe we could win, but agreed to send some representatives to "show their face". They would not even pay for the cost of submitting the bid documents. I paid for it with a personal cheque... It was just $5000.
Each bidder was given a full day, to make presentations and answer questions. Our team drove to Botswana from Zimbabwe because we could not afford all the air tickets. I led the oral presentations:
There I was with my small team from Zimbabwe with one representative from our partners, who struggled with English, facing these silver haired Swedish consultants. The senior representative from our technical partner, had not even been involved in the preparations of the cell phone document, and he barely spoke throughout the rigorous presentations, and questioning that followed.
To this day, I still tear-up, just thinking about that day, 16 years ago:In the next post
, I will tell you about how that day went, as I remember it, as though it was yesterday.
Incase you missed the first post or you want to go to the next post of this 3 part series here are the linksStrive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate as Mascom in Botswana part 1Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate as Mascom in Botswana part 3More from Strive MasiyiwaHow we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 1How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 2How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 3