The Top 10 Richest People in South Africa

Who are the 10 Richest People in South Africa?

Utilizing Investment Opportunities - Richest People in South Africa - getlion

South Africa is a country rich with opportunity and business acumen. In fact, our country has produced some of Africa’s wealthiest individuals, true pioneers that have taken advantage gaps in the market and grasped the opportunities available. In recognition of these achievements, we have compiled a list of Top 10 Richest People in South Africa, from whom there is much to be learnt. The stories of each individual should serve as inspiration for African entrepreneurs everywhere! As Richard Branson famously said, “Business Opportunities are like busses, there’s always another one coming”. Will you be the one to capitalise on the next one? There is no better time than now, and getlion is here to support you as you start, manage and grow your business empire.

The Richest People in South Africa

Nicky Openheimer Laughing - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
Image Source: Forbes

1. Nicky Oppenheimer – $7.6 Billion

Nicky Oppenheimer is the richest man in South Africa and the third richest man in Africa. Oppenheimer has a whopping net worth of $7.6-billion, according to Forbes. He is the successor of his family’s investment, the De Beers mining group, which was established in 1888 and has great control over the diamond industry. In 2012 Oppenheimer sold 40% of the company’s share to another mining group, Anglo American, for $5.1-billion in cash. Besides the mining, Oppenheimer owns a chartered flight company called Fireblade Aviation which consists of three planes and one helicopter. Fireblade Aviation contributed significantly towards making him the richest man in South Africa. Some of Oppenheimer’s other business ventures that add to his wealth consist of owning the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve and other conservation property in South Africa.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Nicky Oppenheimer:

Be Consistent

Nicky is the heir to his father’s fortune and has been able to keep the ball rolling until now. Their legacy is able to last and be transferred because they built a good business foundation and had succession plans in place.

Relationships are Key

Oppenheimer maintained the family’s business relationship with De Beer up until he retired from the company. Maintaining and building mutually beneficial business relationships is a vital part of the puzzle if you want to succeed in business.

Image Source: Forbes

2. Johann Rupert – $5.3 Billion

The sixty-year-old Johann Rupert comes in second on the list with a net worth of $5.3 Billion. He is the chairman of the Swiss luxury goods firm that goes by the name of Compagnie Financiere Richemont. Rupert is well known for brands like Vacheron Constatin and Cartier. He is also the chairman and owns a 7% stake in the diversified investment firm Remgro, as well as owning a 25% share of Reinet, an investment holding company based in Luxembourg.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Johann Rupert:

Be Fearless

On multiple occasions, Johann Rupert has been described as a fearless businessman. He is a risk-taker that has established many different kinds of businesses. Johann Rupert teaches us that you have to be a fearless businessman and should be willing to take calculated risks. Without taking the risk, you may never know what could have come from opportunities presented before you.

Don’t Put all your eggs in one basket

On multiple occasions, Johann Rupert has been described as a fearless businessman. He is a risk-taker that has established many different kinds of businesses. Johann Rupert teaches us that you have to be a fearless businessman and should be willing to take calculated risks. Without taking the risk, you may never know what could have come from opportunities presented before you.

Image Source: Forbes

3. Koos Bekker – $2.5 Billion

South African billionaire business man and chairman of media group Naspers, Jacobus Petrus “Koos” Bekker is third on the list with a net worth of $2.5 Billion. Bekker transformed a South African newspaper publisher called Naspers into a cable TV powerhouse and investor in e-commerce. Naspers now operates in 130 countries and is listed on the London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges. The company has the largest market capitalisation of any media group outside of the US and China.  Through Bekker, Naspers invested in the Chinese internet and Media firm Tencent in 2001, and owns a 31% share of the company.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Koos Bekker:

Innovate

When Bekker went to study at the Columbia University in New York, he was totally clueless at first. Although further along the line he discovered the new pay television industry there and thought of a way he could recreate the concept in Africa. He then set about studying the whole process.

Identifying and Taking Opportunities

According to Koos, predicting the future is very difficult (we agree). Koos went from trying to predict the future to taking action. As he grew older in both his age and life experience, he learnt to continuously scan the world to grab new opportunities that arise.

Image Source: Forbes

4. Patrice Motsepe – $2 Billion

Patrice Motsepe is the fourth richest man in the country and the richest black man in South Africa. He is the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which has interests in gold, platinum, ferrous metals and base metals. Motsepe became a billionaire in 2008 and was recognised as the first black African on the Forbes list. Apart from earning a fortune from his thriving mining business, Motsepe is a part of several company boards, including being the non-executive chairman of Harmony Gold – the 12th largest gold mining company in the world, and the deputy chairman of a well-known finance firm, Sanlam.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Patrice Motsepe:

Take the Opportunity

Patrice saw a rare opportunity in mining, and he took it. Today, his wealth can be traced back to that same opportunity he took. As a business owner you always need to look out for new opportunities and act on them fast, as you never know which one will be your big break.

Partnership is the way

One of the biggest business strategies Patrice used to scale his business was building partnerships. Motsepe ventures into profitable business partnerships and is still maintaining them to this day. If you find an establishment that can positively impact your business, do not hesitate to reach out to them and discuss ways you can collaborate.

Allan Gray - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
Image Source: Forbes

5. Allan Gray – $1.8 Billion

Former student of Rhodes University, Allan Gray is a business magnate, who is responsible for founding Allan Gray Investment Management. As much as Gray is in business to make profits, he also runs a non-profit organisation; Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and the Allan Gray Charitable Trust.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Allan Gray:

Go Big or Go home

Allan Gray had an immense passion for investment management. When he initially founded his company it mostly focused on investment counselling, later growing to include institutional clients. Gray then went on to set up Orbis Investment Management in 1989 in London to focus on investing in international markets. By 2015 Orbis was managing over $30 Billion in assets.

Giving back

Allan founded the Allan Gray Foundation in 2007 with a $130 million endowment to fund scholarships and bursaries for talented South African high school students. This was the largest recorded donation to a charity in South Africa at the time. In 2016 Gray donated his entire stake in his company to the Allan and Gill Gray Charitable Trust to be exclusively used for philanthropic purposes.

Michiel Le Roux Smiling - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
Image Source: Forbes

6. Michiel Le Roux – $1.4 Billion

Le Roux founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and worked as the CEO until 2004 and thereafter became the chairman of the board from 2007 to 2016. Since then, Le Roux has remained a board member and owns about 11% of the bank’s share. Capitec Bank trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and targets the emerging middle class South African.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Michiel Le Roux:

Minimise Hierarchies

In an interview with Forbes, Le Roux stated how everyone worked in love without a clear distinction between the boss and the employee. “At Capitec, they take simple seriously. No suits, the CEO’s office is the same size as everybody else’s, no personalized parking spots, the guard at the gate calls him Michiel, while the receptionist freely jokes about his sense of style – or lack thereof”.

Understanding Your Market

Capitec Bank revamped the South African Banking industry even at a time when the industry was extremely tense. Although the big banks in South Africa provided a wide array of products to a large market, they were not really suited to service the low-income segment. There was a gap in the banking market that needed filling. Capitec entered the market by bringing in a better, less expensive service which targeted the rural areas first where the big banks didn’t even see a market.

Stephen Saad Smiling - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
Image Source: Forbes

7. Stephen Saad – $1.2 Billion

Stephen Bradley Saad is the Chief Executive and founder of Aspen Pharmacare. Saad never thought the small business he started in his flat from Durban would make him a billionaire. Today Aspen Pharmacare has 26 manufacturing facilities and is the largest producer of generic medicine in the continent. He became a millionaire at age 29 when he sold his share in Covan Zurich for $3million.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Stephen Saad:

We all have to start somewhere

Nobody thought Stephen Saad would be one of the richest people in South Africa when he started his ‘small business’ in his 3-bedroom house in Durban. That same ‘small business’ now has branches in over 150 countries in the world. It all starts with a business idea; the business idea you call small could catapult your business into the next big thing.

Business has Ups and Downs

It is common knowledge that businesses have ups and downs. Every business owner must be prepared for the downs and have a good system in place for any form of future risks. In the case of Stephen Saad, he experienced business downfall in 2019 and it could have ended up very badly for him if he did not have any other investments but that was not the case as he was prepared and had a good system in place.

Christoffel Wiese Smiling - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
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8. Christoffel Wiese – $1.1 Billion

Surprisingly, Wiese has accumulated the bigger percentage of his wealth from the retail sector by offering South Africans bargain prices. He owns 18% of publicly-traded Shoprite holdings, which has supermarkets and furniture in 15 countries across Africa. In addition to that, Wiese also owns more than 1200 corporate outlets under different names. He owns various properties including a private game reserve in the Kalahari Desert and the Lourensford Estate.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Christoffel Wiese:

See Problems as Opportunities

When Christoffel went to Zambia in the 1990s to open up a clothing store, he found out that clothing was being sold on pavements by hawkers. There were no clothes shop in the country, and a Pep store colleague that went with him said “You know, we can’t come and open shops here because people prefer to buy their clothes from hawkers”, but Wiese went ahead and open the store and it became successful just like the other stores across the continent.

Follow your Passion

Wiese knew that he had a burning passion for nothing other than business and he pursued his passion quite early on. The best part about investing in your passion is that you will be able to record great success in that area – this is evident in Christoffel’s business success.

Jannie Mouton Smiling - Richest People in South Africa - getlion
Image Source: Forbes

9. Jannie Mouton – $1.06 Billion

Mouton started his business journey quite young and he co-founded a stockbroking firm with his friends, Senekal and Kitshoff. Unfortunately, on 3rd August 1995, Mouton walked in to the company as a managing partner but walked out of the company without a job. He got fired. Today Mouton is a prominent investor and a chartered accountant. He is the chairperson and founder of the PSG Group, one of the most successful investing companies in the country. The company is well known for dealing in private equity, financial services, education and agriculture.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Jannie Mouton:

Failure is not Final

Mouton was fired from his job, but that did not stop him from achieving success. In Jannie’s own words “It was a tremendous shock for me. I was 48 years old and didn’t expect anything like that. I lost my company, I lost my friends and I lost my confidence. It was a defining moment of my life”. Despite all this, Mouton picked himself up and started again from scratch.

Have a Good Mentor

After losing his job, Jannie start reading books written by his mentor, Warren Buffet, an investment guru and US billionaire. Jannie didn’t stop there, he studied Buffet’s style of running businesses. Thereafter in November 1995, Jannie bought 51% of a listed recruitment company, PAG for R3.5million. Studying the ways of someone that is already at the level you dream to be is one of the fastest ways to achieve your goals.

Lauritz Dipenaar Smiling - Richest People in South Africa -getlion
Image Source: Forbes

10. Lauritz Dippenaar – $700 Million

Dippenaar is a South African self-made millionaire. Apart from being a chartered accountant, businessman, investor and banker. He collaborated with GT Ferreira and together, they co-founded FirstRand Limited; one of the high street banks of South Africa. He is also well-known for his philanthropic activities and runs a scholarship programme through his endowments.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Lauritz Dippenaar:

The Value of Investing

The true value of investing in profitable ventures cannot be over-emphasised. Starting your own business is always a great idea, but investing in other profitable businesses can help you achieve your long-term goal of wealth.

Communication is Key

One of the most important success aspects of running any business in any industry is Good communication skills. This will help investors and prospective clients to trust your brand and will also spur them to invest in your business.

We hope this list of successful pioneers rekindled that entrepreneur fire inside of you: If Stephen Saad could land himself on this Top 10 Richest People in South Africa list from his 3-bedroom house in Durban, then why can’t you? We encourage you to follow in Stephen Saad’s footsteps – start, manage and grow your business with getlion. Our app is designed to assist entrepreneurs and start-ups on their path to business growth and success. Our goal is to see your name on this list.