Tsitsi Masiyiwa, the wife of Zimbabwe telecommunications Billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa, has praised Rwanda for its good governance and economic management.

Please read the full speach below:

Mrs. Jeannette Kagame Your Excellency, Mrs. Monica, Kay goes and Mrs. Haile Mariam, former first lady from Ethiopia. All ministers here, distinguished guests. Good evening to everyone.

It’s a real real honor and a privilege for me. The reason why I smile so much is I’m a real copycat. When I get to Rwanda, I’m taking my notes and picking up books, documents so that I can go and copy what has happened in this amazing nation.

On behalf of Higher Life Foundation, I would like to say congratulations, for 20 years of amazing impact and the remarkable achievements that we have seen in the beautiful nation of Rwanda and we are so honored to be your partners.

I just want to tell you a little story about philanthropy, collaboration, catalytic funding, and investment.

I’m a Zimbabwean and so proud to be a Zimbabwean and an African. But I always say when I come to  Rwanda, when I listen to different people speaking Kinyarwanda, I pick up so many words that are so similar to my language.

So part of me is I consider myself Rwandese as well.

In 2008, in Zimbabwe, we experienced a devastating cholera outbreak. Over 100,000 people were infected. And unfortunately, we lost 4000 people.

There were many organizations from the private sector, public sector, the NGO sector that responded and each partner did their best.

However, there was a profound difference when in 2018, we had another cholera outbreak, this time 10,000 people versus 100,000 in 2008, were affected. 4000 people died in 2008. And in 2018, 69 people lost their lives.

Similarly, many organizations responded, but the type of response was different. What was different between the two periods?

Number one, we made a long term investment. We looked at the problem and decided to take a long term view and make long term investments.

So that would eliminate cholera. Instead of going for the short term, where we rally quickly and put in money, put in resources, get people rallied to a cause, but only for a short period of time. This time we took the long term route.

Secondly, we collaborated, we understood as a foundation, that it was not possible to solve the problem alone. The problem was bigger than any organization.

Although the most effective partner to tackle the problem was the government. We understood that, as the foundation, as philanthropists, ours was to play a catalytic role in supporting what the government was doing.

We ended up by asking the government as philanthropists. What can we do? How can we play our role most effectively, to ensure that we are an effective partner and we set up a secretariat that played a role to coordinate all the different partners to ensure we are listening to one another.

We were measuring our impact in that we all remained focused on the long term goal.

We looked not for the things that we liked to do, or we enjoyed to do with our resources.

But we looked to see what was the vision that our government had and then what role could we play most effectively to support the work.

When I look at the investments that Imbuto foundation has made in the last 20 years. They’ve been so effective in understanding the overall vision of the nation of Rwanda.

20 years ago, the GDP of Rwanda was 1 million US 1.9 billion US dollars. We stand here today and Rwanda is one of the most successful countries on the continent of Africa.

Life expectancy was 49 years. In the last 20 years, 20 years have been added to the life expectancy of everyone, and maternal mortality has been significantly reduced.

Rwanda leads as a voice in educating the globe on the importance of early childhood development.

Recently, we published the Legatum Prosperity Index, which shows that out of 54 countries on the African continent, Rwanda is first in enterprise conditions, which means it provides an excellent environment for the creation and growth of businesses.

It’s number one on the continent.

Rwanda is second in investment environment. Which means it protects the money of its investors by providing the right environment and an excellent return on your investment.

Rwanda is number seven in governance, with a transparent and effective government leadership with integrity which inspires confidence in any one, whether in the private sector public sector.

It is evident from the work that Imbuto has done, that it has played a critical role in contributing to that prosperity.

Imbuto has been catalytic, in investing in education, in empowerment of young people in entrepreneurship and ensuring that the voice of the Last mile communities, the most vulnerable in our communities is heard and given the services that they require in order to thrive.

My challenge to our partners from the private sector who are here is, learn lessons from what we have learned that :

number one, yes, businesses are there to make profits, but in the past, businesses have tended to allocate money for promotion, for public relations for marketing, at the expense of understanding the vital importance of also allocating some of their resources to ensuring that institutions or foundations such as Imbuto, that reach the kind of communities that are generally neglected, or generally may be unattractive for private sector investment are reached.

I want to leave you tonight with the challenge that I would like us to look ahead.

In the next 20 years, without a shadow of doubt, Rwanda will be a first world nation.

What role are we going to play as the private sector, in philanthropy, to ensure that we put our money where our mouth is, that we ensure that we use our investments in a catalytic manner to ensure that no child is left behind, no communities left behind.

And also in partnering with an organization that I believe has been a real leader, a pioneer in ensuring that our communities are able to thrive.

With those few words. Thank you very much, Madam God bless you. 

Please watch the video above this post for more details