Last Updated on July 8, 2020

Most successful African entrepreneurs in South Africa

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South Africa is known as the second biggest economy in Africa, just behind Nigeria. Just like Nigeria, South Africa has its fair share of successful African entrepreneurs. South Africa, as an attractive business destination, has some of the most exceptional entrepreneurs from Africa.

The following entrepreneurs are some of the most excellent businessmen from the Rainbow state

1. Elon Musk

Whenever Tesla is mentioned, only one name comes to mind: Elon Musk.

He is not just among the famous entrepreneurs from the Rainbow Nation, but he is currently one of the most famous and prosperous businessmen.

With a net worth of almost $23 billion, Elon Musk is now the richest of all South African entrepreneurs.

He is the successful founder of several profitable ventures like PayPal, Tesla, X.com, SpaceX, SolarCity, The Boring Company, and Neuralink.

And famously known to put every one of his money into creating SpaceX and Tesla soon after he sold off PayPal.

He is the epitome of entrepreneurial courage for risking all he had for two previously untested “business ideas.”

Is currently occupies numerous managerial positions in his companies.

Musk serves as an inspiration for young entrepreneurs.

2. Patrick Soon-Shiong

He is a businessman and a surgeon who originated from China but was born in South Africa.

Soon-Shiong had made lots of money off starting and selling off different profitable business ventures, concentrating basically in the South African healthcare segment.


As practicing medical personnel, he currently has 230 patents, with 42 of these patents been in the US, while he has 138 from other countries.

He is the current owner of Nantworks – a company that specializes in semiconductor technology.

And owns NantHealth – a company that makes use of urban infrastructure to make health data possible.

Soon-Shiong is also in charge of NantOmics and NantKwest.

Based on information from Forbes, Soon-Shiong is currently worth $6.9 billion.

He is a majority shareholder of The San Diego Union-Tribune as well as the Los Angeles Times.

3. Nicky Oppenheimer

South Africa is home to wealthy entrepreneurs, and Nicky Oppenheimer is among the wealthiest businesspeople in the rainbow nation.

He made a substantial part of his wealth by dealing with diamonds, one of the numerous valuable commodities in the Southern African country.

Just like Bill Gates, Nicky Oppenheimer is not a self-made billionaire.

A majority of his wealth came from his family.

But this is not to discredit Oppenheimer, who has headed various successful and profitable ventures.

In 1985, he became the chairman of South Africa’s De Beers Consolidated Mines.

Subsequently, he was then the chairman of the country’s De Beers Group.

He held this position from 1998 down to 2012. Nicky Oppenheimer is currently valued at $7.6 million and is a famous personality in the country.

4. Ivan Glasenberg

He is among the most successful entrepreneurs in the rainbow nation.

He is currently the CEO of Glencore.

Glencore is among the most significant commercial mining and trading companies in the world.

Ivan Glasenberg joined Glencore in 1984 and rose through the ranks to the top position.

Glasenberg joined Glencoe as a rookie.

Then after 30 years of dedication and loyalty, he was made CEO of Glencore.

This happened in 2002.

Glasenberg is estimated at $5.4 billion. Glasenberg’s net worth fluctuates with time, and it is never stable.

This is mostly because most of his wealth is tied up in stocks from Glencore, which, if this fluctuates, affects Glasenberg’s net worth.

Glasenberg, as an astute businessman, serves as a board member for both Minara Resources Limited and Xstrata.

Glasenberg oversaw the acquisition of Xstrata by Glencore.

This acquisition is known to be the most significant merger transactions.

The deal sometimes pegs the entire value of Glencore at $88 billion.

In terms of academics, Glasenberg has two different degrees.

He has an Accountancy degree and a Commerce degree from the prestigious University of Witwatersrand.

5. Johann Rupert

Johan Rupert sits among the most successful African entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Rupert, 68, is a businessman who presently acts as Richemont’s chairman.

Richemont is a Swiss luxury product company that is family-owned.

Rupert might have been a silver spoon kid; however, he is a self-made billionaire.

Rupert is the founder of the famous South African equity, Rand Merchant Bank.

RMB is a business that Johan Rupert established in 1979.

Subsequently, RMB is a part of the South African enterprise, Rand Consolidated Investments.

At this time, Rupert pulled out of RMB to go work for the company that his dad had founded, the Rembrandt Group.

Since then, Rupert had grown in entrepreneurial domination and had headed many profitable business ventures like the South African outfit known as Remgro.

With a total net worth of $5.8 billion, Rupert is among the most successful entrepreneurs in the rainbow nation.

He currently actively manages Compagnie Financière Richemont and had been the CEO since 2010.

6. Christo Wiese

If Christo Wiese does not ring a bell, you have not been paying attention to the South African retail segment.

Christo Wiese made a name as a mere entrepreneur in this segment of the rainbow nation’s economy.

As an astute businessman, Wiese embarked on a zealous expansion tactic to grow his company.

Eventually, his efforts paid off as he grew the value of his company from 1 million Rands to a business worth several billion dollars.

With 44% in shares from Pepkor, Wiese is one of the majority shareholders in the company.

Wiese’s parents established Pepkor. In 1981, Wiese became the chairman of the company.

Brait, which is an investment company, is also owned by Christo Wiese.

One of the most remarkable deals Brait ever embarked on is in the buying of about 80% share from Virgin Active in 2015.

Virgin Active is a part of the Virgin Group.

Christo Wiese is a famous South African billionaire who acts as case studies for young entrepreneurs.

However, he almost lost his billionaire status when his net worth fell from $5.1 billion to $1.1 billion in 2018.

His net worth currently stands at just over $1 billion.

7. Koos Bekker

If you have not heard of Jacobus “Koos” Bekker from South Africa, you must have been living under a rock.

Koos Bekker is famous as one of the founding fathers of the Multichoice/MTN group.

This group was Africa’s premier pay television entertainment providers.

At present, both companies are the biggest providers of satellite television in the continent.

As ambitious as Koos was, he never stopped his business ingenuity with MTN.

He subsequently went ahead to become a significant shareholder in Naspers.

Naspers was the equity firm that had financially aided Multichoice and MTN when they first began.

With an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, Bekker is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in South Africa.

He is the current chairman of Naspers.

8. Allan William Buchanan Gray

He is one of the most successful businessmen in the country.

Allan Gray established the Allan Gray Investment Management back in 1973.

The company is the most significant individual investment company in South Africa.

Furthermore, in 1989, his entrepreneurial flair took him to begin Orbis Investment Limited, which he managed.

Due to the stake he has in both companies, he became wealthy.

Allan Bray is currently valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes.

Allan William Buchanan Gray has big eyes for investment as well as a big heart for the needy.

Among the most successful entrepreneurs in South Africa, Allan Gray has donated a large chunk of his fortune to numerous philanthropic activities.

9. Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe is an astute businessman from the rainbow nation.

Enlightened football fans famously know him as the owner of the famous South African football club – Mamelodi Sundowns.

Patrice Motsepe is a wise businessman, and he is one of the South African entrepreneurs who started with nothing.

Back in the 1990s, when South Africans came under black power, there was extensive empowerment of black people by the new government.

Around this time, Motsepe had established his first business, which he called Future Mining.

After years of business leadership and exceptional management, his company later bought six mining pits from the enterprise, AngloGold.

This deal was worth approximately $7.7 million and was a significant breakthrough for Motsepe.

Due to the successful acquisition, the company has expanded its business interests to become a dominating force in mining activities.

Now called African Rainbow Minerals, Motsepe acts as the Executive chairman.

Motsepe is the brother in law of Cyril Ramaphosa, the current South African president.

Motsepe is quite famous in his home country, especially among young entrepreneurs.

He has a total net worth of $1.8 billion.

He is the only the most successful South African entrepreneur who is a member of the Giving Pledge.

This means that he eventually gets to donate one-half of his fortune to charity.

10. Stephen Saad

Stephen Saad is one of the rainbow nation’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Saad is an unlikely person to be on the list.

However, he is also among the elite group of the most successful South African entrepreneurs.

He had attended Durban High School.

Subsequently, he got a Commerce degree from the South Africa’s University of Natal.

Stephen Saad first showed his entrepreneurial ingenuity when he made a foray into the country’s healthcare segment in 1997.

He did this with his colleague, Gus Attridge. Saad was able to pull this off when he sold off every one of the stocks he had at Covan Zurich.

With the capital he got from selling his shares at Covan Zurich, he invested this in a new business venture known as Aspen Pharmacare.

Currently, Saad is the CEO of Aspen Pharmacare. Gus Attridge shares the CEO function with Saad.

Saad, who is now worth $1. 2 billion, has tremendously grown his stakes in becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs in South Africa.

11. Rivo Mhlari

Rivo Mhlari is a young entrepreneur in the rainbow nation but has made several entrepreneurial strides uncanny for people his age.

And is among the most successful young entrepreneurs in South Africa.

He is the co-founder of the company, Rikatec. Rivo also acts as CEO of Rikatec.

Rivo is the brainchild for a technology that applies the principle of predictive analytics to help vehicles stay on the road.

Rikatec’s technology involves an information management tool that offers instantaneous predictive maintenance information for vehicle fleets.

The device also monitors drivers’ driving habits, detects vehicular breakdown, and identifies other vehicular defects.

Rivo had at first created his Randburg-based company as a marketing consultant that organizes events and advises small businesses on adopting growth-focused strategy such as accessing business grants for African entrepreneurs.

Rivo made lots of money from his time as a marketing consultant.

He then used this money in the development of prototypes of his data analytics software.

He then went ahead to pitch this idea to over ten insurance firms and manufacturers.

Surprisingly, Rivo got rejected on every occasion.

Rivo then worked at his strategy until he was able to achieve a breakthrough.

He was finally able to reduce the operational costs in terms of fleet management successfully.

On testing, fleet managers discovered that his strategy was authentic and innovative.

Shortly after, the 24 years old whiz kid was among young African entrepreneurs Forbes 30 under the age of 30 lists in 2018.

Furthermore, IT News Africa listed Rivo as being among the top ten young technology entrepreneurs in Africa to watch out for.

12. Darlene Menzies

Darlene Menzies was the overall winner of Africa’s leading five female technology entrepreneurs hosted by the World Economic Forum.

She has lots of fintech businesses to her name, is a technology innovator.

Darlene is presently the CEO at Finfind. Finfind is an internet-based platform that helps start-ups to get access to grants.

The platform got established back in 2015 and currently has over 120,000 active users.

Finfind has helped connect over 90,000 start-ups to SME lenders. Darlene helping the young entrepreneurs realized their full potentials.

Darlene previously worked full-time at an IT outsourcing job.

She later ventured into the challenging world of business and commerce after leaving the corporate world.

Then, 16 years following her resignation from the corporate world, she became recognized by the World Economic Forum for her entrepreneurial ingenuity.

However, Darlene never discovered a straight path in the business world.

She would then begin in six different companies.

She would then get liquidated three different times.

However, soon after this period of trial, Darlene found success.

Darlene’s other businesses include SMEasy Business Software and the Development House.

Both of these technology companies were target at young entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses.

Then in 2017, she had managed to raise almost £2 million in investment.

Darlene had actively advocated on the use of business to eliminate poverty from Africa.

Darlene has a personal mantra that states that no one ever gets to live an extraordinary life using an ordinary strategy.

13. Nneile Nkholise

Nneile Nkholise is among the most successful South African female, young entrepreneurs.

Within four years, she had already established two start-ups while taking on significant roles in several non-governmental organizations.

Nneile is a trained Mechanical Engineer.

She had successfully established a biotech company known as iMed Tech in 2015.

Nneile was able to accomplish this feat based on the insights she obtained from her school research topic.

During her research, she applied 3D printing in the creation of facial prosthesis designed for those who had lost essential features of the face from cancer.

Nnelie’s company is in Johannesburg.

And the company specializes in the use of technology to develop medical designs that could help close down the gap created by a lack of prosthetic materials in South Africa.

Nnelie got some funds to start her business soon after winning the country’s SAB Foundation award for social innovation.

This resulted in Nnelie to be among Forbes’s Africa’s 30 young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 for young tech entrepreneurs in 2018.

She then became the director at the Rhulani Mokwena Foundation.

The foundation is surprisingly on football. It aims to improve the level of South Africa’s coaching method to help achieve its sustainable development goals.

Nnelie is a Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance fellow, which is a network of approximately 250 African entrepreneurs.

Nnelie, who is 30 now, is no longer at iMed Tech.

She currently manages 3DIMO, a company she founded in 2018.

3DIMO is a sports technology company that improves the detection of injury and prevents this by using specific athlete orthopedic biomechanics data.

14. Vusi Thembekwayo

Vusi Thembekwayo occupies a position as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in South Africa due to her entrepreneurial exploits.

He has, within the last 17 years traveling throughout the world, speaking publicly about entrepreneurship.

Vusi claims to be the most in-demand business speaker from Africa.

Apart from coaching other people in business, he has been able to achieve lots of feats as both business leaders and entrepreneurs.

At 25, Vusi operated a £22 million department in a £930 million enterprise.

Later, Vusi became one of the youngest business directors in one of the listed companies in South Africa.

Vusi is currently the board of several companies.

He is now the CEO of the IC Knowledge Bureau and My Growth Fund, which acts in helping businesses to create great leaders, working cultures, and strategies.

Vusi acts as a motivation and help to young entrepreneurs.

Vusi says he knows how to find a lasting solution to the many economic issues plaguing Africa.

He operates the mission, aiming to change the continent’s narrative by initiating a challenge towards the current approach and mind-set.

Vusi aims to bring economic freedom to the continent through this initiative.

15. Louw Barnardt

Louw is one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Many small businesses with tight budgets tend to develop cold feet when it comes to bringing in a chief financial officer.

Seeing that there is a problem that needs to be solved, Louw Barnardt created Outsourced CFO.

The firm got established to offer financial planning and advice that will aid SMEs in sensibly scaling up their operations.

The firm provides finance professionals and chartered accountants as consultants.

They work for a certain amount of time every week with the tech and innovation partners of Outsourced CFO.

Furthermore, Louw acts as CEO at a property business in Cape Town.

He also founded the venture capital company called Glenheim.

And went on the win South Africa’s Entrepreneur of the Year contest in 2018.

Sanlam and Business Partners had acted as sponsors of the contest.

Louw had emerged winner of the emerging entrepreneur award category two years ago.

Then also in 2015, Louw was named among the Top 35 Under 35 chartered accountants.

This feat was awarded to Louw by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA), the award show organizers.

16. Basetsana Kumalo

Basetsana Kumalo is a surprise entry on this list because she has stunned the world and South Africa once more.

This time, it is on the business stage.

She had won the Miss South African contest back in 1994.

She then went on to become the runner-up in the World contest of the same competition.

Now Basetsana Kumalo focuses on serving her beauty on the entrepreneurial stage.

So far, she has done well for herself, creating a business career that most people would only dream of.


Soon after becoming a co-shareholder of South Africa’s Tswelopele Productions, Basetsana had become one of South Africa’s youngest black female movie directors.

In 1995, her company was later added to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Basetsana remains the executive chairwoman at Tswelopele Productions.

She had also advanced to be among the board members of many other companies whose core business functions involve travel management, property development, coal, and diamond mining.

Basetsana, as a beauty icon, never forgot about her early passion for fashion and beauty. She had established her brand called Bassie.

This brand deals in clothing, cosmetics, and eyewear accessories.

Her fashion items are in over 250 premium stores within the sub-Saharan African region.

Basetsana, now 45, is the present president of South Africa’s Business Women Association.

She has emerged as the winner for many awards due to the position she played in the development of the economy of the southern African nation.


These are the names that made it to the list of well-known South African entrepreneurs.

They are all individuals at the helm of their respective industries with decades of experience and a global footprint in business.

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