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Ezekiel Guti steals show at Cassava listing

Econet Wireless (Econet) founder Strive Masiyiwa has always attributed his entrepreneurial success to faith and divine intervention, but only last year did he reveal how clergyman Ezekiel Guti was closely involved in his personal journey.

Apostle Ezekiel Guti
Apostle Ezekiel Guti

Writing on his Facebook wall in October 2017, the billionaire told of how one day he received a message that Guti wanted to see him alone, this was before he ever incorporated Econet.

“I had never met him even though I knew who he was! I was not even a member of his assembly. The meeting was in secret…He knew all about my plight and the persecution I was enduring because of my stance. Then he prayed for me and told me not to give up. And with that I left. Victory was still several years away, but without that moment I probably would have given up,” Masiyiwa said.

Back then, Masiyiwa was struggling to get a telecommunications licence for his business.

“We met alone. It will still be many, many years before I’m ready (if ever) to tell people what he said to me. My life changed forever!,” he added.

It was then not surprising when Guti — the founder of Zaoga, one of the biggest churches in the world — rang the bell, together with his wife Eunor, to signal the listing of Econet spin off, Cassava Smartech (Cassava) on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

The 95-year-old preacher was supposed to be the clergy man for the event but his stature made him the de facto guest of honour and bell bearer at the historic event.

Before ringing the bell, Guti had made a rousing prayer of blessing for the financial technology company, asking the heavens for the company to grow “deep roots” and branch out far.

The iconic evangelist’s curious appearance at the event has been linked by some to the run that Cassava’s stock went on to have in its opening day of trading on the local bourse.

The technology group’s shares closed trading on Tuesday at $1,49, 240 percent higher than its initial listing price of $0,44. The counter also became the most valuable on the local market with a market capitalisation of $3,8 billion.

In splitting Econet’s listing into two separate listed companies, the value of the combined shares has gone up from $3,2 billion to $7,6 billion in less than three months.

This has achieved the stated objective of Masiyiwa, who said it was designed to “unlock” the value of the business.

Several international research analysts had already predicted that Cassava would command high valuations because of the nature of its businesses.

African Alliance, a Kenya-based market research firm predicted that Cassava would trade over $3,2 billion, in a research paper published last week, while a new report by Investec Bank of South Africa, valued the company at almost $6 billion.

Cassava Smartech is essentially a technology platforms business that uses the mobile network to deliver services in almost every sector of the economy including financial services, health, agriculture, media, transport and logistics and education.

The most popular services are EcoCash, and EcoSure, which have become mainstays of financial services (Fintechs).

Both Investec and African Alliance pointed out in their reports that Cassava should be seen as one of the most successful Fintech platforms primarily because of EcoCash and EcoSure.

Its banking unit Steward Bank is not a traditional bank, as its revenues are driven by the embedded role it provides in supporting EcoCash. It has more customers than all the banks put together.

The biggest push by Cassava at the moment is in transport and logistics, where its Vaya brand is set to be Zimbabwe’s own “Uber”. Daily News

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