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Naspers, the most valuable company in Africa, has appointed a new chief executive for its South African unit and made history in the process. Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, 48, takes on the role and becomes the company’s first female and first black chief executive.
Her appointment follows a long streak of male CEOs leading the 104-year old company. As CEO for the South Africa unit, Mahanyele-Dabengwa will lead its daily business activities and also manage the company’s long-held desire to make successful tech investment bets in Africa.
Whilst many have never heard of Naspers the investment company has proven itself to be one of the savviest tech investors in the world. In 2001, Naspers paid $32 million for a 46.5% stake in Tencent, which was a relatively unknown Chinese start-up providing an instant messaging service. Fast forward to today, where its current stake of just over 30% in Tencent now one of China's largest Tech companies, is worth roughly $116 billion.
Ms Mahanyele-Dabengwa have a tough taskin replicating such an investment but is now tasked with leading Naspers’ drive for major African tech startup wins with a $314 million fund announced last October. She will also oversee Naspers Labs, a social impact and skills acquisition initiative for South Africa’s unemployed youth. Mahanyele-Dabengwa will report to Bob van Dijk, Group CEO of Naspers.
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