Black Excellence: The Journey Of Billionaire Patrice Motsepe To Becoming African Football Chief

by Duke Magazine

South African billionaire, Patrice Motsepe is a reputed business mogul cutting across different enterprises with sport not an exception. He is a big investor when it comes to football and rugby. 

The billionaire is the bankroller and founder of South African football club Mamelodi Sundowns. Sundowns play in South Africa’s elite league and are onetime champions of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League. On the domestic front, they have won the South African Premiership for a record of 10 times.

Also, the billionaire is the joint major shareholder with a 37 percent stake in the Pretoria-based Bulls, currently the most successful rugby team in South Africa, according to the AFP.

In that regard, Motsepe is now set to become the first South African to lead Africa’s football governing body, CAF. The billionaire started the race with three other candidates, including current CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.

Meanwhile, incumbent Ahmad is ineligible to seek a second term, because he is serving a two-year FIFA ban over “governance issues” while all of Motsepe’s rivals have stepped down for him to be presented as the sole candidate at the next CAF Congress this Friday.

According to the AFP, the plan to have Motsepe run as the sole candidate was brokered by FIFA. He will have as his deputies Senegalese Augustin Senghor and Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya.

Motsepe, 59, was the first Black African to be listed on the Forbes list of billionaires. He is worth $3 billion on the 2021 Africa billionaire net worth, making him the ninth richest man on the continent. 

He is keen to build partnerships and sponsorship within the private sector to boost CAF. He outlined his ten-point manifesto in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late February, according to the BBC.

Motsepe is really a big gun when it comes to Africa economy, as he is South Africa’s first Black industrialist and billionaire. He once said that his inspiration for business was drawn from his grandfather and father, who were both entrepreneurs, as well as his mother, a businesswoman who ran the family business at the time.

In 2013, he also became the first African to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half his fortune to charity.

As a mining entrepreneur, Motsepe is the founder of African Rainbow Minerals Ltd (ARM), a company that mines iron ore, manganese ore and alloys, platinum group metals, copper, nickel and coal. ARM also has an investment in gold.

He has been acknowledged by Forbes as one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” in the world. Motsepe, who is also a member of the Board of Directors at insurance company Sanlam, believes that a lot of hard work, sacrifices and persistence has gotten him where he is today.

Outside the world of business, Motsepe is an expert in governance, law and compliance. He is also the founder and chair of Ubunto-Botho Investments. In a recent interview with CNN, the African billionaire stated that his first passion was entrepreneurship. “Growing up in a business environment in a family, standing behind conflicts at a young age, and I wanted to pursue my first passion which was entrepreneurship,” he said.

He said it took many years of looking at which opportunity to explore and he realized that his country did not have a history of small-scale mining. Then he decided to venture into small-scale mining.

Motsepe hold a bachelors in Law from the University of Swaziland, LLB (Wits University), Doctor of Commerce (honoris causa) (Wits University), Doctor of Commerce (honoris causa) (Stellenbosch University), Doctor of Management and Commerce (honoris causa) (Fort Hare) and Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) (University of Eswatini, formerly University of Swaziland).

He was a partner in one of the largest law firms in South Africa, Bowmans, and was also a visiting attorney in the USA with McGuireWoods.

Motsepe is a member of the International Business Council (IBC) of the World Economic Forum, which is made up of 100 of the most highly respected and influential chief executives from all industries. He is also a member of the Harvard Global Advisory Council and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). Motsepe is a recipient of numerous business and leadership awards and recognitions, including the Sunday Times Lifetime Achiever Award, 2017.

His deep enthusiasm for sports led him to own the national soccer champions and in 2009, Motsepe acquired a 37% stake in the Blue Bulls Co., South Africa’s Top Rugby Team.

As a philanthropist, the Motsepe Foundation established in 1999 has been giving back to society. The foundation’s aim is to improve the quality of life for all, including the unemployed, women, youth workers and marginalized communities in South Africa; support projects that have the potential to assist beneficiaries to become self-reliant and building non-racialism in South Africa; promote respect for diversity and encourage all races and all people of different faiths and cultures to move forward.

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