As South Africa celebrates a generation of freedom, Anglo American acknowledges its deep roots in the country and looks ahead to its contribution in the next 25 years and beyond. Over the next five weeks experience 25 Reasons to Believe with City Press as we explore the economy, job creation, enterprise development, health, land reform, sustainability, technology and – most important of all – communities.
Earlier this year, Anglo American’s diamond business, De Beers Group, celebrated the successful conclusion of the first phase of its Enterprise Development Project for Diamond Beneficiators. Launched in 2016, the project aims to facilitate the growth and transformation of the diamond cutting and polishing industry in South Africa, with a holistic approach that seeks to optimise interventions in all aspects of the diamond pipeline.
‘Living in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, I’d always assumed that I would have a future in the textile industry. My world was turned upside down when, as a jobseeker, I was continuously unsuccessful in finding employment in my desired field.
“A door finally opened when an advertisement caught my eye. It was a poster advertising a job at a well-known diamond cutting and polishing factory. The word ‘diamond’ stood out for me. I fell in love with the word.
“I was offered a position – I didn’t know it would turn out to be the helping hand I needed to support my family, as well as the start of a journey that would change my life.
“My mind-set to succeed motivated me to accumulate my savings throughout my years working in the factory until, eventually, I had enough to buy my first stone from a subsidiary of De Beers. My subsequent relationship with the dealer grew to a point where they trusted me enough to supply me with rough diamonds on credit. These were the gems I needed to take the next step in my diamond journey.
“Fast forward a decade and I was finally the founder and CEO of my very own diamond cutting and polishing company. My dream had turned into a reality.”
‘My love for diamonds started when, as a young bride, I received a dowry. I wanted to spend part of it on a diamond, so I contacted the De Beers head office. They were a little nonplussed that I hadn’t gone directly to a store, but I was adamant my diamond had to come from De Beers. After pestering them for a few weeks, I was given the name of a dealer from whom I could buy a De Beers diamond.
“My visit to the dealer changed my life. Over the years, he became my mentor and my very good friend. At our first meeting, we came to an agreement that I would sell some of his stones for a small profit while learning about the nuances of the diamond trade. Initially, it was just a hobby, but, when my children had grown up, I decided to turn it into a career.
“I completed the course offered by the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Trading School and also qualified as a GIA graduate. It was a beautiful time in my life.”
Mosibudi ‘Jo’ Mathole
‘My career began in stockbroking and investment banking, but I have always been fascinated by diamonds and the diamond industry, which, traditionally, has been dominated by men. I believed women could play a part in turning around some of the more negative perceptions of the industry by starting a legitimate business that was properly run and licensed.
“I went on a diamond sorting and valuation course and received my licence in 2006. I also travelled through Africa to learn more about the industry, and teamed up with an Indian company to help them set up a South Africa-based diamond cutting works. My partner Khomotso Ramodipa and I started Kwame Diamonds in 2010.
“The main barrier in the beginning was finance. When I approached a financial institution for help, they laughed at me. Also, this is a close-knit industry, so you need someone to vouch for you, and to develop contacts and alliances.
“Initially, when I started engaging with De Beers, all I wanted was for it to supply us with diamonds. It turned out that the company was interested in helping to grow and transform the local diamond sector, and that’s how we landed up on its enterprise development programme.
“I am eternally grateful to De Beers. It’s not always easy to find someone who has faith in you.”