Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate in Botswana as Mascom part 3

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Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate in Botswana as Mascom part 3. Image Caption : Yes this is me, with President Masire of Botswana, on the day we launched Mascom. I had a lot more hair in those days, as you can see! It was a notable day, because that is the day President Masire retired from office. Our launch ceremony consisted of a phone call between the outgoing President, and the incoming President (Festus Mogae, now also retired).

What do you "see?"
The Audacity of Faith. (Last Part).

It was time for the questions, from the Swedish advisors to the Botswana government:
"You say that you expect to achieve 120,000 customers, which is 10% of the Botswana population, within 5 years?
That is not possible. This kind of growth has not been seen anywhere; how can it be?''
"Those are our projections, sir", I replied calmly.
They stared at me.
I stared back.

"Can you show us where you get your numbers from?"
"Yes, I am happy to discuss our research of this market. Please go to page xxx, and we can go through our numbers with you."
"We have seen your research. It is very well done, but we are finding it difficult to believe that there will be that level of demand."
For hours, we discussed the assumptions, until we had a stalemate.
One of the advisors, in total frustration said, "none of the other bidders have this kind of optimist projections. You are twice the best estimates from the others."

"We believe these numbers are real." I replied.
They kept thumbing through our meticulous figures, looking to find a fault.
"There must be a mistake, surely?" One of them said quietly.
"No sir. There is no mistake. Those numbers are real. People will take up service."
"They are highly experienced operators, how can you say, they are wrong."
"I don't know their numbers. I only know ours, and I know that we can get service to that many people."
"What is it, you are seeing that others cannot see?" One of them asked.
We left Botswana as the Vodacom team arrived for their presentation. They had arrived in a private jet, and were beaming with confidence.

As I boarded the small propeller plane that moved between Gaborone and Johannesburg, I realised I had lost my voice, from all the talking at the presentations. I was also shaking with exhaustion from several sleepless nights.
Four months later we were summoned back to Botswana. We were told the results would be announced on the radio:
Mascom Wireless had won the tender, for Botswana's first cell phone operation. A second license was to be issued to France Telecom, now known as Orange, as the runner up.

A dream I had held for nearly 10 years had become reality: I could finally set up our first cell phone network. I knelt down and thanked God, even as tears poured down my face.
"What do you see?"

This is the most important question that an entrepreneur must answer.
I remember watching Steve Jobs, launching the iPad, and I wondered:
"What do you see?"
I listened to Jeff Bezos, talk about the Kindle and I wondered:
"What do you see?"
I listened to Jack Ma, and I wondered:
"What do you see?"
Then, I thought about you, and I wondered:
"What do you see?"
The End.

Incase you missed the first two posts of this 3 part series here are the links

Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate as Mascom in Botswana part 1

Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate as Mascom in Botswana part 2

More from Strive Masiyiwa

How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 1

How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 2

How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 3

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