Last week in our Today's Profiles of Entrepreneurship in Africa we talked about Aliko Dangote . Today our discussion takes us all of the way to Johannesburg, South Africa to learn about a woman named Gloria Serobe. Before we get into today's discussion let me say that even in today's international business landscape if you take a look at most large corporations-you might notice that the majority of key positions are held by men. In some emerging markets this might be even more pronounced. However, it has been so wonderful for me to watch as societies worldwide have begun to recognize the strength of gender diversity.
Today, as I mentioned, we are discussing the distinguished career of South Africa's Gloria Serobe. Her march to lead women's economic freedom in South Africa began at her birth place- Cape Town, South Africa. She was born to a large family where there were nine other siblings in her household. Maybe just as notable was the fact that there were many merchants and business people in her family. At an early age her family introduced her to a determination and perseverance that would carry her on unto her current achievements. She was one of a handful of girls to attend St. Johns boy's school in Umtata, Transkei- in fact she was one of the first to do so. From there she went on to earn her undergraduate business degree from University of Transkei and her exemplary work earned her the recognition of the US Fulbright program. Her Fulbright Scholarship award took her to Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she attained her MBA. After her formal education Serobe became an accountant for Exxon. She was soon able to take the experience gained from her accounting job and springboard her career into investment and merchant banking with Standard Corporate & Merchant Bank. By this time Ms. Serobe had the skills that it took to become an executive and she and two colleagues co-founded an investment organization called Wiphold. Additionally, she became an executive director for Transnet, a South African government owned conglomerate.
The company that Ms Serobe co-founded is unique in two ways: 1. ) that its purpose is to empower women through investment and 2.) that it's secondary focus is to take the stock market to South Africa's black population. From the looks of it, I'd say that they are a gigantic success. They represent 300, 000 women investors and over 50% of the stock owners are black. They invest primarily in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange or as it is called in South African parlance the JSE. However, their crowning achievement is a large transaction that Serobe helped them to negotiate with Old Mutual Insurance Group( a London based insurance group which writes roughly 30% of the insurance policies written in South Africa) a deal worth 7.2 Billion Rand( or approximately $990,085,392.00 in today's US Dollars). This is a stock purchase deal, financed via vendor financing which would create roughly 500,000 women and black South African shareholders in the company. This secures Gloria Serobe's spot as a mover and shaker not only just within South Africa's business climate, but also amongst business leaders worldwide.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006