Strive Masiyiwa describes how he took over Lesotho A Kingdom In The Mountains and this the third part in the series. Image Caption: Econet Telecom Lesotho Executives, delivering the first "dividend cheque", to the Lesotho government.Build Relationships That Will Help You, When It Matters Most.
By the time, we entered the Lesotho bidding process, we had demonstrated in Botswana and Zimbabwe that given the opportunity, we had the competence, to build a cell phone network and to operate a successful business.
We had also given business to equipment suppliers from all over the world, who knew we could be trusted:
we had paid them on time, and we had worked well with them. Many of them, were now able to give us credit on equipment supply. I had also stuck to the same suppliers, as I do even to this day. Early in my business career, I had learnt about the importance of developing, "circles of trusts", with other businesses. If you are new to this platform, go back and read the series of posts, I did a few months ago: Circle of Trust. I once again put this principle to dramatic use:
I went to one of our key international suppliers, (a global giant), and asked for a meeting with the Group Finance Director, based in Europe, an elderly gentleman. I was accompanied by the country manager of the supplier, who had flown with me from South Africa.
We went to lunch and I said to the Finance Director of this giant company, "I need your advise. I have this amazing opportunity to be a partner with Eskom, and Mauritius Telecom, but I have no money to pay for my share."
Then I added, softly: "I know you cannot lend me the money, but I just wanted to know, if you know someone who can?"
He looked at me intently as I spoke. Then he asked, "how well are you doing, in your business?"
I had come well prepared, I also knew I would be meeting a no-nonsense finance "guru". So I handed him, our financials, complete with letters from our auditors. I had also prepared reference letters, from everyone who did business with me. I also made sure he got them, well in advance of the meeting.
"Very impressive", he said.
Then he began to ask me questions, about our businesses, and my understanding of our operating environment. I was relaxed as I replied.
After a while, he looked again, at me, and smiled:
"You are right to say, that we are not able to lend you any money, because we are not a bank. In these short years, you have demonstrated to us that you are honest, and you are also competent, at what you do...... Your success is our success; we want you to grow. ....
I know a friend at a bank, I will talk to him, to see you."
A few hours later, I left the country, as quietly as I had come. I called my Pastor, and shared the good news.
Back in Lesotho, we blew away the competition: no contest.
Incase you missed the first 2 posts in this 3 part series here are the linksHow we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 1How we took over Lesotho a kingdom in the mountains Part 2More 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