Strive Masiyiwa chronicles how he took over Lesotho and in this second part of the series he says "Let The Battle Begin".
I drove to Lesotho, from Johannesburg South Africa, where I had recently moved with my family. I travelled in the country, incognito, with a small team. We studied the country, the people. We asked questions, and wrote notes. Then we went back. We did it again and again.
We bought books about the history of the country, and studied its economy and business environment. We spied on the target company and connected with local business people.
Then my team, began to work on the bid documents, as we had done on Botswana. I hired as consultants, the best fixed line experts that I knew, in Africa.
I focused my attention on dealing with the two issues, that we needed to overcome. We needed partners who could provide two things:
- technical expertise in fixed line business.
I also needed to find money for our own shares, otherwise, I would be doing all this for someone else!
I knew I had to find what I have often, described, as an "insight"; I had to "see" something that was not immediately obvious:
In my reading of what was happening in the industry, I came across an article, that said the British Electrical Power utility was planning to split its "signalling operations", and turn them, into an independent telephone company. As an engineer, I understood, exactly what it meant:
I approached the signalling division of Africa's largest power company: ESKOM of South Africa.
They were already aware of this possibility, but were focused on South Africa.
Having them, as a partner, would bring a lot of technical know how, but not public telephony experience, and we would not qualify.
I said to them, if you get experience in Lesotho, you can then, build a much bigger business in South Africa. They saw, the strategy. And agreed to work with us, if we could persuade a fixed line operator, to come on board, in a three way partnership.
Eskom, had money, lots of money, and would be the majority shareholder: I did not mind, because that is business.
As with Botswana, I approached a lot of operators around the world, but because Lesotho, is poor compared to Botswana, most were simply not interested. Eventually I persuaded Mauritius Telecom, to be our fixed line, technical partner. The Mauritians, did not want to invest significant money, but were happy to join the "consortium":
We were almost ready to roll. Only I did not have money to pay for our own shares, and I was not going to beg my partners. I never ask my partners to fund me, in a venture. To understand, how I raised the money, you must go back and read the posts, that I did on building, a "circle of trust".I will give the details, in part 3
Incase you missed the first post on this 3 part series here is the linkHow we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 1
To view the next post in this series here is the linkHow 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