News / Africa

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe Joins Club of African Philanthropists

South African businessman and billionaire Patrice Motsepe pictured on May 07, 2008.South African businessman and billionaire Patrice Motsepe pictured on May 07, 2008.
x
South African businessman and billionaire Patrice Motsepe pictured on May 07, 2008.
South African businessman and billionaire Patrice Motsepe pictured on May 07, 2008.
Anita Powell
Africa has numerous examples of economic dynasties: the relatives of well connected political and business leaders who have amassed incredible wealth in dubious ways.

But that’s not how the story has ended for everyone.

Take, for example, South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe.  Earlier this year, Motsepe who made waves when he pledged to give half of his money to his foundation that helps poor and needy South Africans.
 
By doing so, Motsepe assured his family name would be forever associated with his deeds, not just his wealth. That makes him a part of a growing club of elite African families who have it all -- and are sharing it.
 
Motsepe is South Africa’s richest black man. He made his billions through a series of shrewd investments in the mining sector and was helped by South Africa’s post-apartheid business policies that encouraged black-owned business.

Humble beginnings
 
But he came from humbler origins. He said he was inspired by his experience working as a child at his parents’ grocery store and watching his mother give free groceries to poor customers. It’s that spirit that has motivated a growing number of wealthy African businessmen and women to open their pocketbooks.
 
Another African billionaire, Sudanese telecoms magnate Mo Ibrahim, started a foundation dedicated to improving governance in Africa. South African activist Jay Naidoo sits on the Mo Ibrahim Foundation board, and says Ibrahim’s decision changed the playbook for wealthy Africans.

Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim speaks to the media at an event in London in 2008.Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim speaks to the media at an event in London in 2008.
x
Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim speaks to the media at an event in London in 2008.
Sudanese telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim speaks to the media at an event in London in 2008.
“I think that Mo Ibrahim represents a new breed of African entrepreneurs because, historically, most of the wealthiest people on our continent have really just taken their wealth and established themselves in Europe or North America," said Naidoo.

"It was obligation and a responsibility as an African to put some of that wealth back into Africa."

Ibrahim’s efforts have improved Africa’s global perception, Naidoo added.

“The evidence is there that Mo has become a billionaire through doing business in the right way, and ensuring that he never, ever paid a bribe. And it sends a really good signal to anyone wanting to do business in Africa that Africa is open for business. It is the fastest growing market globally, and that we want ethical businesspeople, both African business and international business that invests in Africa. So, Mo has set a very important example, and it’s been followed in suit by other wealthy African businessmen and women," said Naidoo.

New trend

In 1936, Lt. Col. James Donaldson started the Donaldson Trust to protest South African legislation that denied blacks the right to vote. Today, the nearly $3 million trust is involved in many community projects.
 
Elizabeth Donaldson, his great-granddaughter, sits on the board, and says she sees a trend among wealthy men and women who give up their wealth. Her great-grandfather came to South Africa as a poor orphan before striking it rich in the mining sector. His wealth is largely inaccessible to his descendants - much of it was lost over successive generations, and the rest is sunk into the trust.
 
“And I think like many men who are self made, including Patrice Motsepe, they realize that money is not something that has any value as it collects in a bank," Donaldson said. "It only has value because it can allow somebody else, who like you, started at the bottom, to get that chance. And my great-grandfather the colonel was exactly that person. He was a little boy who was denied access, because he was not from the right class. And Patrice Motsepe spent his teenage years packing his dad’s stockroom in Mamelodi. And he has learned, I think, like many of those men, that unless you give something back, it almost has no value.”

But that philanthropy has cost the Donaldson family. The family’s opposition to the apartheid regime led to police surveillance, travel restrictions and harassment. But today, Elizabeth Donaldson believes that that experience has given the family something valuable.
 
“My children, like me, will not inherit money," she said. "If they want money, they will have to go and make it. And I hope that by the time they get there, they have an incredible love of Africa and what we really stand for. Not the excess, not the corruption, not the lack of understanding of what the person next to you needs. But a real understanding of our value and our contribution and what we owe Africa as successful happy people and products of that place.”

That, she said, is worth all the money in the world.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs