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NMMU Honorary Doctorate recipient - Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, calls on graduates to create jobs

APRIL 6, 2017
NMMU Honorary Doctorate recipient - Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, calls on graduates to create jobs

One of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) honorary doctorate recipients on Wednesday urged graduates to leave the institution not looking to find jobs, but to create them.

Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa, who along with globally acclaimed educational entrepreneur, Fred Swaniker, and former Public Service and Administration minster, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, were lauded for their immense contribution to leadership, entrepreneurship and social and economic transformation.

Addressing graduates in the Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences in the morning, Masiyiwa – who began his telecommunications business with just $75 – spoke to the need for university leavers to create jobs.

“It is indeed true that I started business with only the equivalent of $75. In a few weeks, you will begin the journey that I started in an institution not dissimilar to your own. As hopeful graduates going into the job market, you will be aware that it is an extraordinary time because we have extraordinary challenges,” he said.

“Perhaps it was a little easy for me with a fresh university engineering degree, as it will be for many of you, but still you will be going out into the job market. But where do the jobs come from?”

Emphasising and repeating this question, Masiyiwa said Port Elizabeth boasted an “extraordinary pool of the most talented, skilled artisans and technicians than anywhere on the African continent”.

“It is a place where some of the most amazing companies come and set up manufacturing capability,” he said.

“Where will we get the jobs, not only for our finest graduates, but for many others who will not get to university?

“They must come from you. You must leave today thinking about creating jobs, and not finding them. Your charge, your call is to go and create jobs. Whether it is with $75 or R75, we need an entrepreneurial revolution on this continent because it is the entrepreneurs that must go out and create jobs.”

NMMU endeavours to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in all its students, who are studying or graduating at a time of sluggish economic growth and increasing unemployment in South Africa.

Masiyiwa, based in London, encouraged students to become like some of the best of the continent’s entrepreneurs.

“The other day I was speaking to African bankers and they asked how to become more supportive of entrepreneurs. I asked them: if Elon Musk walked into your branch, would you recognise him or does he have to go to Silicone Valley?

“He is a South African and an African, and one of the greatest entrepreneurs. We have lots of Elon Musks. Ladies and gentlemen, the hall is full of Musks. They are right here. This is where the jobs will come from.”

Masiyiwa is a devout philanthropist, who cofounded the Higher Life Foundation, a charity that provides scholarships and meals to destitute orphans in Zimbabwe, with his wife Tsitsi.

He has, through this foundation, provided scholarships to more than 250 000 young Africans over the last two decades. Every year, he supports more than 40 000 orphans in educational initiatives, as well as sponsoring students at universities in America, the United Kingdom, and China.