100 World Class South Africans: Patrice Motsepe

2013-09-25 12:00

Pioneers & originals

They started with big ideas and a bold vision, but these brave innovators did more than survive – they went where no South African had been before.

Some achievements are vaunted, others less so.

It can also be quiet, this business of trailblazing.

Patrice Motsepe is remarkable for two reasons.

He was Africa’s first black billionaire (worth around $2.9 billion, says Forbes).

Second, he has pledged to give half of it away.

Patrice’s father sold traditional beer to miners in Soweto.

Now Motsepe owns some of those mines.

At first, his attempts to buy small-scale mining operations in 1989 from Gencor and Anglo American did not succeed.

His rise started in earnest in 1994 when he became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan, specialising in mining and business law.

Motsepe’s business nous and good timing paid off – he founded Future Mining that same year, predecessor of African Rainbow Minerals, where he is currently executive chairman.

He is also non-executive chairman of Harmony Gold (12th largest gold-mining company in the world); deputy chairman of Sanlam; and is a board member of several companies.

His announcement in January that he will donate roughly half his fortune to charity – through the Motsepe Foundation – has been described as a milestone in SA history, at a time when the World Economic Forum sees inequality as one of the top global risks.

Churchill said: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’

Patrice Motsepe has made an impressive living, and an even better life.

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