Half of the 10 richest South African women either inherited their wealth from their fathers or built businesses together with their husbands. A few are standalone entrepreneurs, while some are renowned corporate executives.
Wendy Ackerman, $300 Million
Wendy Ackerman’s husband, Raymond, founded Pick ‘n’ Pay, one of South Africa’s most dominant retail empires. She and her husband control the Ackerman Family Trust, the vehicle through which they own more than 40% of the retail giant. She has also served as a Non-Executive Director of the company since 2010. Pick ‘n’ Pay has outlets across Southern Africa and Australia.
Wendy Appelbaum, $200 Million
Wendy Appelbaum is the daughter of revered South African multi-millionaire insurance mogul Donald Gordon who co-founded Liberty Investors, an insurance and real estate company. She worked at Liberty before divesting her significant shareholding in the company. She used the proceeds to pursue other interests, most notably, DeMorgenzon, a wine estate in Stellenbosch. The philanthropist has donated millions of dollars to causes in education and health in South Africa.
Irene Charnley, $150 Million
Charnley burst into the limelight as a trade unionist when she was a negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. She subsequently left union politics and joined MTN as an Executive Director where she was instrumental in negotiating for a GSM license in Nigeria, MTN’s most profitable market. She earned hefty stock options which translated into more than R2 billion ($71 million) as far back as in 2006. She divested her shareholding in MTN and founded Smile Telecoms, an internet services provider active in West and East Africa. Smile Telecoms recently closed a $365 million funding round from international investors to expand its broadband network.
Elisabeth Bradley, $100 million
Elisabeth Bradley is the chairperson of Wesco Investments, an investment holding firm and Toyota South Africa, a company that has the lucrative distributorship of Toyota in South Africa. Her father, businessman Albert Wessels, had the foresight in 1961 to acquire the distribution rights of the automaker in South Africa. It has paid off handsomely for Bradley. In 2008, she sold off 25% of Toyota South Africa to Toyota Motor Corp of Japan for more than $300 million.
Judy Dlamini, $100 Million
Source: Aspen Pharmacare
Dlamini, a medical doctor by profession, is the leading shareholder in Imithi Investments (Pty) Limited, a black economic empowerment vehicle that owns more than 4% of Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest pharmaceuticals company. She is also the chairperson of a black women-owned and managed company with operations and investments in health, facilities management, tourism, fashion retail and retail property.
Sharon Wapnick, $80 Million
Sharon’s father, Alec Wapnick, founded Octodec Investments and Premium Properties, both Real Estate Investment Trust companies. In 2014, both companies merged to become Octodec. Sharon is one of the largest shareholders in the company. She also serves as a partner at TWB Attorneys, a commercial law firm in Johannesburg.
Pam Golding, $60 Million
Source: Real Estate
Pamela Golding is the founder of the Pam Golding Property Group, a real estate brokerage which she started in 1976 with one sales assistant and no capital. Five decades later, Pam Golding is one of the largest real estate agencies in Africa, closing more than $1 billion in deals in 2015 and employing a workforce of more than 3,000 professionals. Golding is the chairperson of the company while her son Andrew is CEO.
Vanessa Gounden, $45 Million
Gounden serves as the CEO of the Holgoun Group, a conglomerate she co-founded with her husband, Sivandran Gounden, in 2005. Holgoun started out in the clean energy business, but after it flopped, she and her husband set out to buy platinum prospecting rights and developed platinum mining assets through which they made their first fortune. The company now has an asset base of $250 million and interests in mining, healthcare financial services, property, media and security among other sectors. Gounden is now attempting to make her mark in high fashion. In 2011 she launched her own fashion label named Vanessa Gounden, a luxury womenswear brand that has a pop-up shop on Beauchamp Place near Harrods in London.
Bridgette Radebe, $25 Million
Radebe is one of the few females to have thrived in South Africa’s male-dominated mining industry. Mmakau mining, a Johannesburg-based junior mining company she founded, has lucrative mining assets in coal, gold, uranium and platinum. Radebe started out in the 1990s managing shafts for larger mining firms on a contract basis. She is elder sister to South Africa’s first black billionaire Patrice Motsepe.
Yolanda Cuba, $10 Million
Yolanda Cuba currently serves as Executive Director for strategy and business support for South Africa Breweries Limited, but in her former life, she was the CEO of Mvelaphanda Group, an investment company with interests in mining and natural resources. Mvelaphanda was previously listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, during which time Cuba was awarded stock options worth around $10 million.