Top 3 Black Women CEOs in South Africa

Black excellence is what matters the most in the black community, it gives fellow blacks (young, old upcoming professionals) the hope that “black child, it is possible” to excel in their professional endeavours, make their dreams a reality, and ultimately score a C-level executive position. It is much inspiring when we see more black females becoming Chief Executive Officers and making it in their professional field(s). To motivate and inspire you, in this article, we highlight 3 South African’s top black women CEOs.

1. Khanyisile Kweyama

An accomplished businesswoman from Atteridgeville, Pretoria, Khanyisile Kweyama assumed her role as a Chief Executive Officer of Business Unit South Africa (BUSA) in January 2015. She is responsible for the organisation wherein she plays a vital role in ensuring that the business plays a constructive role in the country’s economic growth, development goals, and making sure that businesses of all sizes and sectors thrive and be competitive nationally and internationally. She was the first woman to be appointed as an executive director at Anglo America South Africa. She also serves on various boards in organisations such as Telkom South Africa, Business Leadership South Africa, and Keymix Investments.

In 2014, she was listed as the most influential woman in South Africa, and she was the first black woman in South Africa to be elected as the vice president of the South African Chamber of Mines. She holds a Postgraduate Diploma and a Masters Degree in Management from the Wits Business School, a BS Administration qualification from Fort Hare University and has also completed various executive development courses with GIBS and other institutions. She has worked closely with the ANC office in Washington DC and has gained extensive managerial experience working for various well-established organisations.

2. Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe

Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kutana Investments Group Ltd, a black women-owned Pan-African BEE investment company in South Africa that delivers significant shareholder value while contributing to the transformation of the economy and society at large. She recently occupied the CEO position at Hewlett-Packard South Africa and was previously the CEO of Alcatel South Africa, Marketing Director for Lucent Technologies South Africa, and Divisional Managing Director at Siemens Telecommunications. She serves on the boards of various organisations such as Knorr Bremse SA (Pty) Limited, Absa Group Limited, and Paracon Holdings Limited.

In 2005 she was awarded the title of Top ICT Individual of the year, and Top ICT Businesswoman in Africa; as well as being a finalist in the ICT Sector in CEO Magazine’s SA’s Most Influential Women in Business & Government. She holds an MS in medical chemistry from the Loughborough University of Technology and a BS from the University of Swaziland and has also completed a senior executive program at Havard and a managing corporate resources program from the Institute of Development Management of Swaziland.

3. Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa

Born in Dobsenville, Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa has done well for herself. In 2019, she was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for Nasper’s South African unit, making her the first black and first female CEO for the company. She is responsible for the day-to-day business activities and manages the company’s desire to make successful tech investment bets in Africa. This includes growing Nasper’s $4 billion business in South Africa. Previously she served as the Executive Chairman at Sigma Capital Pty Ltd., Chief Executive Officer for Shanduka Group (Pty) Ltd., Managing Director at Shanduka Energy (Pty) Ltd., Vice President of Fieldstone, Inc. and Head-South Africa Project Finance at Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd.

Her amazing work speaks through her accolades; in 2014 she won the Forbes Woman Africa Businesswoman of the Year Award, in 2013 she received the “Distinguished Achievement” award by the Douglass Society, and in 2012 she bagged the Leading Africa Woman in Business - Africa Investors, amongst many other achievements. She is on the board of various companies with some being Vodacom Group Limited and HTN Towers Plc. She holds an MBA from De Montfort University and an undergraduate degree from the Rutgers State University of New Jersey.

While writing this article I realised that in most companies the CEO position is occupied by males with very few women. But it is great to witness that some of the largest companies in South Africa have started with entrusting black females with this position. This shift gives hope and encourages more women to push further in their professions and strive to climb the corporate ladder or even start their businesses. If it could be achieved by a fellow black woman, then it is a possibility for you too.

More women are starting their own businesses and if you are one of those or have been contemplating about starting, better get the ball rolling now as there are business loans available for women in South Africa that can assist in making your business a success through funding.