Meet Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, Naspers' first black female CEO in over 100 years

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa is Naspers' first black female CEO (iol)
  • Naspers was founded on May 12, 1915. It was created by a white South African politician and soldier named. B. M. Hertzog.
  • 104 years later, it has grown from a Dutch-language newspaper to a media and e-commerce company with its first black and female CEO.
  • Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa, the new CEO, makes history by becoming one of the few people of colour to run a top 40-listed company on the JSE. 

Naspers finally has a woman at the helm after being in business for 104 years.

This new chief executive is named Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa. She is the first black and female CEO at one of Africa's most profitable companies.

She is now in charge of the day-to-day business activities of the media and e-commerce group in South Africa.

The 48-year-old CEO is also responsible for its recently formed Naspers Foundry and Naspers Labs. These initiatives are aimed at boosting the local technology sector and developing the skills of the country's unemployed youth.

Commenting on her new role, she said, "I am thrilled to be joining Naspers at such a pivotal time for the group and for South Africa, and look forward to adding value to the group in realising its strategy in South Africa."

Who is Mahanyele-Dabengwa?

Bloomberg reports that she holds a Bachelor's Degree from Rutgers University, U.S. and a Master of Business Administration from De Montfort University, UK. 

Prior to her current role, Mahanyele-Dabengwa was the Executive Chairperson at a privately held, majority-black owned investment group called Sigma Capital, which is based in South Africa.

Her previous roles include the CEO of Shanduka Energy between September 2010 and June 2015, Deputy Chairman and Board Member on the Pan African Resources PLC board. 

She is also a current Board Member of the Discovery Insure Ltd and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

Explaining the decision to appoint her as the new CEO, Naspers' CEO Bob van Dijk said, "Her significant investor and board experience across varied sectors makes Phuthi the perfect match for this important role at Naspers."

"Phuthi is qualified, and brings in some good experience, plus she brings some gender and racial equality into the mix," Ron Klipin, a senior analyst at Cratos Capital added. "You need a person who can also take your South African portfolio forward and grow it, change the landscape even further."

Owen Nkomo, CEO of Inkunzi Wealth, shared her excitement at having a female leader at a major African company. In her words, "It's terrible because there are a lot of skilled women who can lead listed companies. The industry needs to change, the sector needs to change, so I applaud the guys that hired Mahanyele-Dabengwa to run Naspers in SA."

Sharing her faith in Mahanyele-Dabengwa's abilities, Nkomo added, "She is very smart and she will adapt to the environment that she is being put into. She has worked closely with the current president, so in terms of access may be to the right networks if that business does require access, I believe she will bring that into the company."

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