Strive Masiyiwa chronicles how he took over Lesotho and describes it as A Kingdom In The Mountains. Lesotho is a remarkable country:
It is a small African country nestled in the majestic Drakensburg Mountains of Southern Africa. Uniquely, it is one of only three countries in the world, completely surrounded by another country; South Africa. And yet it is a fiercely independent and proud country, with its own constitutional king, who is greatly loved by his people. The moment, I arrived there for the first time, I fell in love with the people, and I said to my companion: "I could live here for ever."
In 2000, the then government of Lesotho, hired Price Waterhouse, the global financial advisory firm, and asked them to sell their public telephone company, known as Telecom Lesotho, in a public tendering process. The presence of Price Waterhouse, as advisors to the process gave bidders a lot of confidence, including ourselves. We knew it was going to be a tough, but transparent process, similar to what we had faced in Botswana. With two operations, under our belt; Zimbabwe, and Botswana, I was ready for a new adventure.
Although Lesotho was a small country, with less than 2.5m, this would be quite a challenging venture, if we won:
-Telecom Lesotho, was essentially bankrupt, and barely operating. Some of its facilities had been vandalised following a recent attempted coup.
- we were required to buy 70%, of the company leaving the government with 30%.
- the company did not have a cell phone operation, however we would be given a new license. Only problem was that one of best operators, in Africa (Vodacom), had already been in the market for 5 years, when we arrived!
We had other challenges to overcome, before submitting a bid:
- we did not qualify, even to participate, because although we had cell phone operations, in Botswana, and Zimbabwe, we had no experience in fixed line, telecommunications, and it was a pre-qualification requirement.
- then there was the small matter of money; each bidder had to provide bank letters, to show they had the money, needed to buy the company, and recapitalize it, over five years.
We bought a copy of the bid documents, and I sat down with my team. We studied every single line, making copious notes. We discussed every day, from morning to night. Personally, I meditated, and prayed, even as I studied. Often going for long walks, with the documents, in my hand.In the next post,
I will show you how we emerged with a powerful strategy that stunned our competitors, and gave us victory.
To continue this 3 part series here are the linksHow we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 2How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 3More from Strive MasiyiwaStrive 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 2Strive Masiyiwa : How we got the license to operate as Mascom in Botswana part 3