Tsitsi Masiyiwa

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Zimbabwean philanthropist and social entrepreneur Tsitsi Masiyiwa may be well off, but she also knows what it’s like to struggle. In the early 90s her husband, businessman Strive Masiyiwa, went head-to-head with the Zimbawean government over their telecommunications monopoly, taking them to court for the right to start his own mobile phone business. A lengthy legal battle ensued, draining the Masiyiwa family of their finances. Tsitsi looked to God in their lowest moments, promising that if he set things right, she would devote her life’s work to helping others in poverty. “We went ahead and registered Capernaum Trust, a charity that we decided would give scholarships to needy children,” she tells Forbes. “It was an unpractical thing to do at the time, especially considering the fact that we had nothing. But as a Christian, you do unreasonable things.” Her faith paid off. By 1998 not only had the Zimbawean Supreme Court granted Strive his mobile operating license, but his company Econet had surpassed the government’s Zimbabwean Post & Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) business in just a few short months of operation. Tsitsi immediately began hosting parties for and spending time with orphans around the country, but soon realized there was more work to be done. Along with her husband she founded Higherlife Foundation, which has grown to be the biggest scholarship program in Africa, sending thousands of children to study at the best Universities worldwide. Higherlife has also provided aid to specific relief efforts like the HIV/AIDS pandemic and Zimbabwe’s Cholera outbreak of 2008.

In addition to education Tsitsi has a love of technology. It led her to co-founding Muzinda Hub for youth with the same love. Muzinda Hub boasts more than a thousand coders, making it the fastest growing tech hub in Sub Saharan Africa. Still, Tsitsi finds ways to do more. She considers it her responsibility not just to give back, but to inspire others to do the same. “Look around Africa, you’ll see that new millionaires are springing up everyday,” she told Nsehe. “It is good to create wealth, but along with wealth-creation must come a deep sense of responsibility. Africa’s rich need to collectively deploy their resources for the good of the people around them.”