Following in the footsteps of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, South African Mining Magnate, Patrice Motsepe, is donating half of his wealth to fight poverty in his nation. In fact, Motsepe was joined via live stream by none other than Bill Gates himself. Motsepe is now hoping to give back to his community and provide long-lasting solutions to many of South Africa’s problems. Forbes estimates that Motsepe is worth some USD 2.65 billion dollars and is South Africa’s only black billionaire.
The funds will be handled by the Motsepe Foundation, and will focus on education and health with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty. Given that poverty rates in South Africa remain high and 25% of the population are unemployed, this is a much welcome news for a country suffering from high crime rates and massive inequality.
In announcing his donations, Motsepe was quick to point out that he has benefited greatly from the actions of other people and the government’s efforts to empower Black business leaders. In Motsepe’s view, his donations will help him pay back his debt to society, while helping to provide opportunities for future generations.
Motsepe made most of his fortune through affirmative action policies that were installed after the end of the Apartheid and White rule in 1994. Following the end of White domination, the government installed requirements that mining companies must be at least 26% Black African owned. Many Black South Africans would benefit from these policies, but none more so than Motsepe who stands as South Africa’s first and only Black billionaire.
Originally a lawyer by training, Motsepe quickly used South Africa’s emerging affirmative action policies to his advantage. Motsepe would make most of his fortunes through the Rainbow Mining Company, which he founded. Rainbow Mining is heavily involved in Gold, Platinum, and other minerals in resource rich South Africa.
Motsepe’s original interests in mining stem from his time working for Bowman Gilfillan, where he became the firm’s first black partner in 1994. As a business and mining law specialist, Motsepe quickly developed a deep understanding of the industry and built a personal network, that would later empower his expansion in the industry.
When gold prices dipped in 1997, Motsepe seized the opportunity to purchase several gold mines at low prices. By the turn of the millennium, Motsepe would begin to expand the size and scope of his gold operations and would also become involved in other minerals, such as platinum, coal, iron, and copper. As mineral prices rose dramatically after the turn of the century, Motsepe saw his fortunes increase considerably. His investments quickly paid off and within a few years Motsepe became South Africa’s first black billionaire.
This donation comes is part of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s efforts, through their Giving Pledge initiative, to push the world’s richest to donate large portions of their wealth. Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have pledged to donate the vast majority of their wealth to charities in stages over their life time. In the same way, Motsepe will not donate all of his funds at once, but instead slowly transfer his assets and wealth to charitable purposes, including the fight against poverty.