Perspectives Business

7 things you didn’t know about South Africa’s only black billionaire

  • Date
  • Summary / Author

Patrice Motsepe is a man who quite literally struck gold. In 1997, when the gold market was close to its lowest in the last three decades, he started buying gold mines at favorable prices and later founded the first South African black-owned mining company, African Rainbow Minerals. Today, he is one of seven South Africans in the list, and the only black man.

Crucial to his fortunes were also the black economic empowerment (BEE) policies that the country implemented upon its transition to a democracy from apartheid — the BEE laws required businesses to have a minimum 26% black ownership before a mining license would be granted — yet some criticism lingers on whether the benefits have been distributed fairly. Nevertheless, Motsepe is now a mining magnate, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, with investments and managerial positions that stretch across several companies.

Here are seven key facts about his life:

1.) His name, Patrice, is a homage to Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

— Lumumba played a crucial role in the country’s path to independence from Belgium, and was executed in 1961 following a coup that deposed his government.

2.) In 2013, Motsepe donated half his wealth to charity, a move inspired by the actions of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who have long been encouraging billionaires to distribute their wealth.

3.) He is the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, a Pretoria-based football team that’s nicknamed The Brazilians, in reference to the yellow and blue uniforms that echo those of Brazil’s national team.

4.) Motsepe is currently the 847th richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $2.2 billion.

5.) He abides to the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, meaning “I am because you are,” which expresses an idea of connectedness.

6.) He started working at an early age, during school holidays, in his father’s Spaza shop, a type of convenience store popular in South Africa.

7.) He has blue blood: he is a prince in a clan of the Tswana ethnic group, one of the largest black minorities of South Africa, where the Tswana language is also one of the eleven official idioms.