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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid