2017 Famous African Business Leaders

In no particular order, meet the leaders who are famous for making dramatic impact in business in Africa in 2017.

Marius Kloppers, CEO, BHP Billiton

Nationality: South African

Marius Kloppers CEO, BHP Billiton, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Marius Kloppers CEO, BHP Billiton, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Kloppers, 50, is the head of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company. Born in South Africa, Kloppers studied chemical engineering at the University of Pretoria. He earned his MBA at INSEAD and completed his Doctorate at MIT. He worked at Sasol (SSL), Mintek and McKinsey & Co, before joining global resources giant BHP Billiton in 1993. Kloppers became C.E.O in 2007. A few weeks after taking the reins of the company, Kloppers launched an audacious takeover bid for rival mining giant Rio Tinto. The deal fell through, but Kloppers has performed remarkably well nevertheless: Last year, the company posted a $22.5 billion profit. BHP extracts resources like aluminum, coal, nickel, iron ore, oil, gas, copper and uranium from mines and facilities on 6 continents.

Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group

Nationality: Nigerian

Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Africa’s richest man is also one of its most influential business leaders. The Nigerian-born commodities tycoon is founder and president of the Dangote group, West Africa’s largest industrial conglomerate, with manufacturing interests in sugar, flour and cement across West, East and South Africa. His listed Dangote Cement accounts for more than a quarter of the total market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He is looking to list the company on the London Stock Exchange next year. Last year, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan conferred the tycoon with the national award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, (GCON), the country’s second highest national honor.

Brian Joffe, CEO, Bidvest Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Nationality: South African

Brian Joffe, CEO, Bidvest Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Brian Joffe, CEO, Bidvest Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Meet the man who created the Bidvest Group – Africa’s closest comparison to General Electric. Joffe, 65, founded Bidvest in 1988 with a $1 million cash-shell, and built the group into one of Africa’s largest conglomerates.  Today, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed $7.2 billion (market cap) international services, distribution and trading company operates on four continents and employs over 100,000 people.  The company’s key assets include Bidvest Freight, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest privately held freight management business; Bidvest Automotive, a leading South African motor vehicle retailer; a thriving financial services division and the world’s largest food service outfit outside North America. Joffe, a trained chartered accountant, is chief executive of the company.

Jacko Maree, CEO, Standard Bank Group

Nationality: South African

Jacko Maree, CEO, Standard Bank Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Jacko Maree, CEO, Standard Bank Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Jacko Maree, 53, a former Rhodes scholar, is the CEO of the Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest financial services conglomerate. The $23 billion (market cap) behemoth operates in 33 different countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Russia, Argentina and Jersey. Maree is also chairman of The Banking Association (S.A.) and is a former director of the International Monetary Conference. He has been South Africa’s most trusted CEO at least 3 times.

Cyril Ramaphosa, Executive Chairman, Shanduka Group

Nationality: South African

Cyril Ramaphosa, Executive Chairman, Shanduka Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Cyril Ramaphosa, Executive Chairman, Shanduka Group, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

Ramaphosa, 59, is one of South Africa’s most powerful figures in business and politics. His first taste of power was in the 1980s as a trade union leader in South Africa when he founded the National Union of Mineworkers to improve the rights of black African workers. In the early 90s, he got elected as secretary-general of the country’s leading political party, the African National Congress (ANC) and played a key role in negotiating with the National Party during the country’s transition to democracy. He became a member of the country’s parliament in 1994 but resigned three years later to build a career in business. Today, his privately held and highly influential investment holding company, Shanduka Group, owns substantial stakes in South African mining giant Assore, Standard Bank, Coca Cola Shanduka (a joint venture with Coca Cola), insurance, telecom and extensive real estate holdings. Last year, he acquired the South African operations of American fast food giant, McDonald’s. Ramaphosa, a very senior member of the ANC, is often mentioned as a possible future president.

Raymond Ackerman, Founder, Pick n Pay

Nationality: South African

Raymond Ackerman, Founder, Pick n Pay, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders
Raymond Ackerman, Founder, Pick n Pay, One of 2017 Famous African Business Leaders

In 1966, at the age of 35, Raymond Ackerman got fired from his post as a Managing Director at South African food retailer, Checkers.  He used his severance pay to acquire 4 retail outlets in Cape Town which traded under the name Pick n Pay. Under Ackerman’s management, Pick n Pay grew to 794 stores around Southern Africa, Mauritius and Australia. Current Market Cap: $1.2 billion. Ackerman stepped down as Executive Chairman in 2010, handing over the reins to his son, Gareth. Dedicated philanthropist: Through his Ackerman Family Educational Trust, he supports about 60 students through university.

About Nathaniel Moikabi

I’m a writer at Thrive Global, CEO of Moikabi Investments and tech officer of Frederick Holdings. Follow me on Facebook @NathanielMoikabiOfficial

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