Bridgette Radebe kissing Graca Machel When it comes to big money, men still call the shots in Africa – just like in the rest of the world. While there is no single African lady today who can lay claim to a $1 billion fortune, there are about 2 or 3 African women who possess legit nine-figure fortunes. Here are nine African women, all worth at least $50 million:
Isabel Dos Santos Nationality: Angola
The eldest daughter of Angola’s President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel dos Santos got her start in business at age 24 by using her father’s influence to corner lucrative state contracts. Keeps close ties with Portugal. Kento Holding, a Maltese-registered investment firm she fully owns, holds a 10% stake in Zon Multimedia, a Portuguese media conglomerate. She acquired the stake for 164 million Euros in 2010. Also owns major stakes in Portuguese banks Banco Espírito Santo and Banco Português de Investimento, and in Energias de Portugal, which generates and distributes electricity.
Bridgette Radebe Nationality: South Africa
The elder sister to South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, Bridgette Radebe started out as a contract miner in the 80s, managing shafts and procuring for the larger mining houses. Went on to found Mmakau mining, an immensely successful mining firm with assets in platinum, gold, uranium, coal, chrome, exploration and mining interests. Also serves as president of the South African Mining Development Association. Married to South Africa’s Justice Minister, Jeff Radebe.
Irene Charnley Nationality: South Africa
Former trade unionist made first mark as a shrewd negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. Went on to take up a job as an Executive Director at MTN, Africa’s largest telecoms group, where she led the company’s successful foray into several African countries. Was instrumental in negotiating for and acquiring one of four GSM licenses in Nigeria. She also helped MTN secure the second GSM license in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In return, was rewarded with huge chunk of MTN stock valued at over US$150 million. Left MTN in 2007 under controversial circumstances. Now serves as CEO of Smile Telecoms, a low-cost telecommunications operator based in Mauritius.
Pam Golding Nationality: South Africa
Source: Real Estate
One of South Africa’s most well known real estate icons, she founded Pam Golding Properties in 1976 with no start-up capital and a sales assistant. The company is now one of South Africa’s largest independent property trading companies. 2010 turnover: US$1.7 billion (11 billion rand). Has retired from active management; still remains chairperson. Now devotes energy to philanthropy.
Wendy Appelbaum Nationality: South Africa
The only daughter of former South African billionaire Donald Gordon, Wendy was a director at Liberty Investors, the previously listed holding company of the Liberty Group – the insurance and real estate concern her father founded. Sold off her stakes; became cash rich. Together with husband, Hylton Appelbaum, purchased DeMorgenzon, a wine estate in Stellenbosch. Has donated US$23 million (R150 million) to create the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs), and the Donald Gordon Medical Center. Wendy chairs the South African Women’s Professional Golfers’ Association.
Elisabeth Bradley Nationality: South Africa
Elisabeth Bradley’s father Albert Wessels brought Toyota (TM) to South Africa in 1961. In 2008, Wesco Investments, a South African holding company which she controls, sold off its 25% stake in Toyota South-Africa to Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan for US$320 million (R2.1 billion). She walked away with at least US$150 million (R1 billion). Bradley has served on the boards of blue chip companies such as Standard Bank Group, Hilton Hotel and Roseback Inn.
Mamphela Ramphele Nationality: South Africa
The one-time man
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