Raised in Soweto during the height of apartheid, Patrice Motsepe’s business prospects did not look good. However, his undeniable business acumen and determination to succeed have seen him become South Africa’s first black billionaire and the first African to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge.
Born: 28 January 1962
Nationality: South African
Alma mater: University of Swaziland, University of the Witwatersrand
Occupation: Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals
Net worth: R27.72-billion
Motsepe was introduced into the world of sales and business early in his life. His father Augustine Motsepe, an ex-school teacher turned businessman, recognised an opportunity to create a spaza shop that became very popular with black mine workers. It was while working in this shop that Patrice learned the basics of business.
The spaza shop was also where a young Motsepe learned that he wanted more himself than selling odds and ends to miners. Despite the fact that his father admitted that they would sell far more when his son was behind the counter, a young Patrice became determined to become a lawyer at the tender age of eight years old.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Swaziland, Motsepe completed his LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand and went on to become the first black partner at Bowman Gilfillan, one of the top law firms in Africa.
How he made his money
A genuine rags to riches story already, instead of stopping as a vastly successful lawyer, Motsepe became a mining magnate. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which deals in gold, ferrous and base metals, and platinum. As the undisputed richest black person in South Africa, Motsepe sits on the boards of several companies, such as Harmony Gold, and owns a piece of Sanlam.
When Motsepe was starting out in the mining game, he benefitted from an extended downturn in the price of gold. South African gold groups, such as AngloGold were looking to restructure by offloading marginal mines. He purchased these low-yield assets and turned them profitable.
As a result, in 2002, he was honoured with South Africa’s Best Entrepreneur Award and in 2004 was voted 39th in SABC 3’s Greatest South African’s list. In 2012, the Sunday Times listed Motsepe as the richest man in South Africa with an estimated fortune of R20 billion. Since 2012, his fortune has grown but he has relinquished the title of richest man in South Africa.