The mobile phone tycoon grew up in the townships around Harare and came to the UK at the age of 12 after his parents saved the cash to send him to boarding school
A telecoms entrepreneur who grew up in what is now Harare, Zimbabwe, without a phone in his family home has been named Britain’s first black billionaire.
Strive Masiyiwa, who has amassed a fortune of £2bn, appears on this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, in joint 89th position.
Mr Masiyiwa, 61, has shot up the chart from number 159 in 2021 after seeing his wealth grow by an estimated £913 million over the past 12 months.
The self-made billionaire was born in 1968 in the townships near what was then known as Salisbury, Rhodesia. He lived there with his grandmother until he was seven years old, when he joined his parents in Zambia.
It was when he was 12 that Mr Masiyiwa first came to the UK, after his parents managed to get the cash together to send him to Holt School, a boys’ boarding school in Edinburgh.
“I was crying. It was bitterly cold,” Mr Masiyiwa recalled in an interview with the Sunday Times.
“They said, ‘You have to wear your kilt on Sunday.’ I looked at them and their bare legs, and thought, ‘This is it. I’m dead.’”Mr Masiyiwa went on to live in Birkenhead in Wirral, Merseyside, where he sat his A-levels, and later he attended Cardiff University, where he studied engineering.The entrepreneur launched a mobile phone network, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, in the country of his birth in 1998 and today he lives with his wife Tsitsi in a Surrey mansion.
Mr Masiyiwa appeared to attribute his success partially to his mother Edith, of whom he said: “She wanted me to try hard at everything that I do.”